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After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead Hardcover – January 24, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 193 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Blinder, a corporate executive and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, sets out to tell the American people what happened during the financial crisis of 2007–09. He explains the events that are still reverberating in the U.S. and globally and will challenge public policy for years. With public policy as his focus, he considers how we got into that mess and how we got out—to the extent we have gotten out. The author considers the future—what have we learned both economically and politically, and will we handle future crises better? What vulnerabilities do we still have? What future problems have we accidently created? Finally, Blinder offers a host of recommendations, which include his Ten Financial Commandments, including Thou Shalt Remember That People Forget (people forget when the good times roll) and Thou Shalt Not Rely on Self-Regulation (Self-regulation in financial markets is an oxymoron). This excellent book in understandable language offers valuable insight and important ideas for a wide range of library patrons. --Mary Whaley

Review

The Wall Street Journal:
"[Blinder] is a master storyteller... [After the Music Stopped] is one of the best books yet about the financial crisis."

Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times:
"Highly readable... Mr. Blinder draws on the work of many... reporters in his account. But if large portions of After the Music Stopped feel familiar, the book nonetheless benefits from its wide-angle perspective, as well as from its vantage point in time, now that it's possible to assess the fallout of decisions that were being made on the run by White House and Treasury officials under extraordinary pressures. It also benefits from Mr. Blinder's clear-eyed prose and nimble gifts as an explainer — gifts that sometimes approach those of Bill Clinton, when it comes to making complicated economic issues and policies understandable to the lay reader. Direct and concise, Mr. Blinder tells it as he sees it."

Financial Times:
"Blinder's book deserves its likely place near the top of reading lists about the crisis. It is the best comprehensive history of the episode... A riveting tale."

The New Republic:
"For a reader wondering how we got here, and why the people in charge have seemed, often, to be so chary of stringing up the culprits, or tearing down the system, Blinder's book - not least because his fair-minded approach and pragmatic mindset evokes that of America's current regulators - gives us an invaluable insight."

USA Today:
"What does all the knowledge mean to generalist readers? A lot, actually. Blinder is no defender of his economist colleagues or other former and current insiders who caused so much damage - or, at minimum, failed to see the collapse on the horizon. He writes clearly - as well as lots of journalists. That combination makes the book a worthy addition to the literature."

Seattle Times:
“If you want to get between the covers with your favorite econ nerd this season, I recommend Alan Blinder’s After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response and the Work Ahead. Written by the former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, this deserves a place among the top reads on the Great Panic and its aftermath.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"A prodigiously detailed yet generally accessible investigation of the roots of the meltdown, its multiple and continuing reverberations in the United States and globally, and the short-term fixes and long-term remedies required to treat, and then heal, the patient."

President William J. Clinton:
"If you want to understand every aspect of our economic crisis—how we got into it, how we escaped a depression, why we haven't fully recovered, and what we have to do now—read this book. It's a masterpiece—simple, straightforward and wise."

Paul A. Volcker:
"True to his scholarly roots and informed by his practical insights, Alan Blinder has produced in After the Music Stopped both a comprehensive and, mirabile dictu, engagingly readable analysis of the great financial crisis. Whether or not one agrees with every particular judgment, the force of the argument is clear: here we are, four years later, still short of reforms that are needed."

Bob Woodward:
"Alan Blinder is one of the world's best informed and most balanced, sensible economists. His credentials include years as a senior adviser in the Clinton White House, then as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and as regular op-ed contributor to the Wall Street Journal. After the Music Stopped is the best account available of what really happened in the 2008 financial crisis, why and what it now means for the future."

Mohamed A. El-Erian:
"Of all the books that I have read on the topic—and I have read quite a few—After the Music Stopped provides the most authoritative account of the why, how and what of the global financial crisis. This highly readable analysis takes you brilliantly through the construction of America's fragile house of financial cards, its sudden and dramatic collapse and, as important, the difficult reconstruction and rehabilitation work that must still be done. Whether you are interested in current affairs or in history, read this book if you want an expert and well-written analysis of how economics and politics interacted to create one big mess, not just for America but also for the global economy."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1St Edition edition (January 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594205302
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594205309
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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An economist who speaks English! This is a rare person, one who can connect with the rest of us and give us an insider's but big picture perspective. Michael Lewis and Alan Blinder are two sides of the same coin. They enlighten and entertain on finance. Blinder is the scholar but don't hold that against him; it's what makes this a must read.

This book explains what really happened to us and why in the financial crisis. All of us know the crisis. Many can discuss it at the "cocktail party, shaking of the head" level of discourse, but few us can discuss the "why-did-they-do-it" or know what lies ahead for us next time. We think it too complicated or too much inside baseball to take the time to figure it out.

Blinder has done this work for us in an entertaining yet scholarly way that we can believe. It's not 24-hour news cycle hype nor a dumbed down HBO movie script.

The narrative is an easy read through a difficult subject. It is better and more entertaining than for example Michael Lewis's "Big Short" (though Lewis is a Princetonian as well and probably took a course from Blinder) in part because Blinder takes us on a journey through the origins and responses to the ENTIRE financial crisis. Along the way, he asks the questions we would ask and then answers them in a down to earth prose.

Before writing this review, I looked at the expert reviews. The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and even the Cleveland Plain Dealer described this book as the "best" account of what happened and why. While everyone has opinion on some aspect of the account, there is a consensus that Blinder presents the information in the best possible way for the rest of us and offers the most comprehensive discussion.
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Format: Hardcover
We still haven't recovered from the recent financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession. Numerous books have been written about these events. Why another one? Blinder brings both great credibility (Princeton Professor of Economics, former Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board) and a new focus on the 'why' rather than the 'what' of the crisis and response. His intent is to provide the 'big picture,' instead of detailing who said what to whom when.

Blinder's 'supershort version' is that the U.S. financial system had grown far too complex and fragile for its own good, and had far too little regulation for the public good. It then experienced a perfect storm during 2007-09 that started with the bursting of the housing bubble, then followed by a 'bond bubble' implosion that was probably more devastating. The stock market also collapsed, turning many 401(k)s into '201(k)s.'

Blinder tells us that all modern economies rely on credit-granting mechanism to nourish the rest of the system, the U.S. more than most. What had been far too much credit turned into vastly too little. Congress then expanded the social safety net and enacted large-scale fiscal stimulus programs, the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates to the floor, created incredible amounts of liquidity, and took over AIG insurance. The result, per Blinder, was a modestly happy ending; however, he gives our macroeconomic performance post-Fall 2008 an F.

Why? Total jobs losses were just under 8.8 million, over a period during which we should have added about 3.1 million more, created a cumulative job deficit of about 12 million by 2/2010. Then the job deficit rose even higher in 2010-11 as job creation fell short of the 125,000/month required to keep up with population growth.
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Format: Hardcover
The current financial and economic crisis that began in 2008 and that, in my opinion, hasn't seen its last down leg will be written about for decades to come, and so no single book should be regarded as the final word. Such a complex, devastating, and multifaceted event is probably too complicated for one person to understand, and so a variety of viewpoints should be sought out. While I'm no expert on the whole matter, either as regards theoretical issues impacting the event or empirical evidence supporting one or another theory, I have read a few books about the crisis and can at least say that I've reached a point where I can identify what makes sense and what doesn't (at least to me). Alan Blinder's book is probably one of the better books I've read by what I consider establishment economists (those who work at a major university, have had extensive high-level experience in government, or basically support a Keynesian approach to economics). I confess that, despite my best attempts to approach all books without prior judgment, I expected to like the book a lot less than I did.

To his credit, Blinder is critical of virtually all the major culprits, though he is rather soft in his criticisms of the Federal Reserve (the Fed)and the federal government. He tends to minimize the role that the Fed had in creating the crisis in the first place. This is not surprising for a former high-ranking Fed official. In addition, he seems to relegate moral hazard to a secondary or even tertiary cause or factor in the crisis, whereas I think it plays a primary role, not just because of the recent bailouts but because of the message that has been conveyed for several decades by the Fed that the big banks and their profits will always be safe.
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