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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 9, 2012
I picked Daniel Gross's book Better, Stronger, Faster off the shelf, flipped a few pages, and started reading about the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) that was passed by Congress in 2008. I thought Daniel Gross did a good job writing about how that played out. A good summary of the facts. Reasonable analysis. So I got the book and brought it home to read from start to end.

My favorable first impressions fizzled. Daniel Gross writes fairly well, but in a style that channels Tom Friedman. It's a style that has never appealed to me--the author tells a story to capture your interest, and then draws conclusions and ideas from the story to build on his or her argument. Evidence by anecdote (often a personal one). Ignoring the admonition that the plural of anecdote is not data, the author can justify just about anything in this way. And that is what Daniel Gross does.

Some of what Daniel Gross says is shocking. Not that what he says is particularly important. But I had to wonder how he could believe some of these things. One example: on page 206 he talks about the 250,000 men of the Civilian Conservation Corps working in the summer of 1933. "They planted 3 billion trees, build eight hundred state parks, and saved the nation's topsoil." That's ridiculous. They didn't save the nation's topsoil. But Daniel Gross says things like that all the time.

Some of what Daniel Gross says is inane. He tells about his trips to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He tells about his family's trip to Hawaii. He tells about his travels to various places around the world. Not that one cannot improve one's perspective by travel. But for me, the tales of travel were too much. One example: Daniel Gross has to tell us about the party Google sponsored at Davos (which he has attended ever since Google started throwing it in 2005), and how he thought David Gergen made a fool of himself with his dancing. So? No need to name drop. It cheapens your ideas. But Daniel Gross does it, a lot.

Some of what Daniel Gross says is partisan. He summarizes what he thinks should be policy by trotting out the usual Democratic issues, from books by Bill Clinton and Tom Friedman. Of course, that Democratic agenda "that gets heads nodding in assent at events hosted by Washington think tanks" would save the country, but they will never happen because of "the general unwillingness of the current Republican party to engage in large-scale, forward-looking legislation that doesn't involve massive tax cuts for the rich."

In short, I didn't like this book. Not because I am a Republican. (I'm not.) But because I think there's little thought here. There's promise in what Daniel Gross chooses to write about. Unfortunately, the promise is not kept. The book never goes anywhere.

That said, this book is much, much better than the partisan diatribes by people like Ann Coulter and Al Franken. Daniel Gross does much better than they do. Still, I can't recommend the book. Frankly, I wish I had just thumbed through it and then put it back down.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2012
There's a good history of TARP and private corporate history of 2008 especially Citi.

Gross misses the primary factors in American decline over the past half century, particularly the burden on American labor that renders our products uncompetitive no matter much the dollar is devalued. He ignores our permanently negative trade balance and decline in the dollar which is a better indicator than anything Gross analyzes. He ignores the Green anti energy and anti nuclear lobbies. He observes but minimizes migration of jobs to Asia. He ignores the long term drag on the economy of consumer and student debt. He denigrates 'declinism' by writers such as Peter Schiff, Naill Ferguson, Kenneth Rogoff, George Wills and (strangely) Joseph Stiglitz. Actually, reading any of the above will convince the reader of the feebleness of Gross's analysis. He uses really stupid metaphors for the economy, including the muscles of Tim Tebow and the 6 million dollar man.

Gross seems to take comfort in the idea that others are currently doing worse than we are, for example France Spain and Greece and Japan, where there are 100 suicides a day. He describes anecdotal success stories of Big Belly Solar trash compactors, EnerNOC, Boeing exports to Qatar and others. However, projection to the American economy doesn't work as there are two failures for every success. Ironically, he cites banking improvement, including JP Morgan Chase before the latest debacle.

FDI is a two edged sword. Foreigners see opportunity, but it exposes current account deficits.
Chinese and Canadian purchases imply loss of earnings for US corporations and economy. Gross cites increasing exports while failing to cite imports, which are increasing faster. His logic appears to be something like 1-2=1. He cleverly cites iNports rather than an analysis of imports.

Gross is hopeful of energy Independence via domestic oil and coal sources especially with fracking. He fails to cite the massive Green lobby opposition to fracking with, at best, huge litigation costs and slowdown of potential benefits. He points to North Dakota as developing jobs, largely due to new sources of oil via fracking. Good luck getting Californians and NYers to move. He fails to observe the powerful Green lobby opposition to fracking that will slow growth. Clever malapropisms like 'reshoring' and 'insourcing' and 'inports' won't change the migration of jobs out of the USA.

We retain a lead in innovation, but have lost the capacity to benefit from it for economic growth. Chinese companies now buy American innovation as it turns profitable. We have been doomed since about 1965. Our government will continue to print money as the easy way out of trouble until the bubble bursts with bankruptcy or worse. 'Doom and gloomers', like Schiff, generally predict that the American economy is becoming unglued and bad times are coming as our government continues to overspend and devalue the dollar, with no end in sight. Their arguments are much more cogent than anything in this book. Gross' wishful thinking is patriotic, but not very convincing. The conclusion is full of if onlys, starting with if only we could put our financial house in order. What on earth makes him think that such a thing is likely or even possible? After reading this book, I am more convinced than ever of the opposite. The 'doom and gloomers' are the ones who have it right.
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on October 3, 2014
Popular press book about some of the challenges facing the american & Global economy. However the books does make good points. The US economy can still create new brand names.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2012
I am avid follower of Tech Ticker and its new avatar The Daily Ticker on Yahoo Finance, on which Daniel Gross time and again went against the grain and committed blasphemy of being optimistic and at times bullish about America and he was right more than any other pundit out there. The book clearly makes a case for how US has adapted to the new realities and how there are opportunities for US in the conventional manufacturing and other unconventional ways. How American brand power has redefined consumption around the planet and the assets the US corporations have that are envy of the world. It is unique aggregation of tales and short-stories that cover various angles and makes a case against the "Decline".

In one word this is an uplifting book. No, it does not tell you that we should think only positive and that every thing is hunky dory about US, but lays out the case very well with tinge of American exceptional-ism. But there are ways that US is and will be able to keep it competitive advantage and does not unlike some books list the Republican talking points.

The book has some interesting facts about TARP/Bailout and how those men who have thanklessly done the job of keeping the system together need our tip of the hat instead of vilification that is in vogue.

Two thumbs up.
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15 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2012
Daniel Gross has an engaging writing style that pulls a reader in, and almost forces you to become a true believer. This happens because he is an honest author - I never believed for a minute that he hyped his evidence or intentionally glossed over facts to make a political point. Readers can spot this kind of duplicity in a nanosecond. I searched the text for self serving posturing and it isn't there.

Having said all of this, I just wish his evidence was sounder, better able to withstand scrutiny. For example, this country has a public sector and a private sector, and it is a fact that, after 9/11, the public sector of the U.S. economy never recovered. The private sector did recover, only to be thrown into decline once again by the factors Mr. Gross documents so well. We are, for all intents and purposes, flying on one economic engine and the truth is the U.S. economy will need both economic engines before it can recover fully from the depths of the 2008 debacle. It can't be done on faith alone, if it could we would be in great shape because Mr. Gross' faith is of the type that moves mountains. Another economic problem is the growing concentration of wealth and regretably, this never arises as a concern for Mr. Gross.

Then too, there seems to be something more fundamental afoot when a man like bond vigilante Bill Gross makes a call to dump, instead of hold, U.S. debt. Does the writer Gross call the investor Gross "a declinist"? Bill Gross doesn't dump U.S. bonds to make a fashion statement. So what's going on here - I'd love the writer Gross to weigh in on this argument, but he doesn't.

The writing is solid, the faith in America's regenerative powers legendary, and with a commitment to even more voracious research, this is an author with a future.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2012
I was attracted by the title of this book, but was quickly turned off by Gross' very clearly stated liberal bias, and his juvenile, snarky insults to fiscal conservatives. A few examples:

- His short list of bad American presidents is Chester Arthur (!), Nixon, and Bush. Wow, really? Carter the economy destroyer doesn't make that list? No, because Gross makes it very clear over and over that Democrats can do no wrong.

- Obama and dems favor investment in infrastructure, while "Republicans have generally opposed these efforts, in large part because Obama supports them" - again, wow! Snarky! "I guess Republicans couldn't possibly have better reasons than that, because anything Dems want to do must be perfect.

- "...the general unwillingness of the current Republican party to engage in large-scale, forward-looking legislation that doesn't involve massive tax cuts for the rich." Stunning! All fiscal conservative thinking dismissed as not forward thinking, and summed up ridiculously as being about getting massive tax cuts for the rich. It couldn't possibly be about, say, not getting into massive debt, or spending like drunken sailors, or adding trillions to the deficit, as Gross' idol Obama is doing.

Of course there is not a word against the current administration, or the economy crushing effect of an ever burgeoning government and government debt.

Gross' liberal bias and insulting condescension toward the fiscal conservatives that make up half the country reduce his credibility to zero. A real econonist looks for the good and the bad without partisanship; Gross sees everything through the lens of his politics. How can you believe anything he says? The book reads like a pre-election screed in favor of Obama (and the timing of its release makes this very probable). I'm extremely glad I didn't buy this but only borrowed it from the library. I can't return it fast enough.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2013
This book has information about the recession that I forgot or did not know. This helps to understand what happened during that time better. Interesting reading.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
the book was an easy read with ample support for his conclusions, as an optimist I thorough enjoyed the book
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2013
The first 135-140 pages are worth the price. A great reminder what America is. The rest goes to the dark side and is worthless.
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2012
Better, Stronger, Faster is a book for today. It is a great read and easy to comprehend. It is well worth the price and is works well on the Kindle. It is a great antidote against the doom and gloom on both sides of the aisle. I haven't finisihed the book yet and I will update this review when I am finished reading the book. If you are thinking about buying this book, do it. You can't go wrong.
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