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Bust: Greece, the Euro and the Sovereign Debt Crisis Hardcover – December 13, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Lynn’s book is fast-paced, entertaining and perceptive about the causes of the crisis. He explains how Greece cheated its way into the eurozone in 2001 by supplying the European Union authorities with data that understated the Greek budget deficit by an average of 2.1 percentage points in every year from 1997."
—Financial Times

‘…Lynn blends financial history, politics and current affairs to tell the story of government deceit, unfettered spending, and cheap borrowing.’
—Finance & Management Faculty, October 2010.

‘The more interesting the book, the less likely you are to put it down, and I just wanted to read from beginning to end.’
—Fool.co.uk, MoneyTalk, December 2010.

‘…thrilling account of the Greek financial crisis…lively, engaging, and thought provoking…Bust, reminds us just how interconnected the world really is.’
—Hereisthecity.com, December 2010.

‘…fast-paced, entertaining and perceptive.’ (FT.com, January 2011).

From the Inside Flap

Athens, Greece—May Day 2010. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) were putting together the final details of a $100 billion euro rescue package for the country. The Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, had agreed to a savage package of "austerity measures" involving cuts in public spending and lower salaries and pensions. Outside, riot police were deployed as protestors gathered to fight the austerity program. A country with a history of revolution and dictatorship hovered on the brink of collapse—with the world's financial markets watching to see if the deal cobbled together would be enough to both calm the markets and rescue the Greek economy, and with it the euro, from oblivion.

In Bust: Greece, the Euro, and the Sovereign Debt Crisis, leading market commentator Matthew Lynn blends financial history, politics, and current affairs to tell the story of how one nation rode the wave of economic prosperity and brought a continent, a currency, and, potentially, the global financial system to its knees.

Bust is a story of government deceit, unfettered spending, and cheap borrowing: a tale of financial folly to rank alongside the greatest in history. It charts Greece's rise, and spectacular fall from grace, but it also explores the global repercussions of a financial disaster that has only just begun. It explains how the Greek debt crisis spread like wildfire through the rest of Europe, hitting Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Spain, and ultimately provoking a crisis that brought the euro to the edge of collapse. And it argues that the Greek crisis is just the start of a decade of financial turmoil that will eventually force the break up of the euro, and a massive retrenchment in the living standards of all the developed economies.

Written in a lively and entertaining style, Bust: Greece, the Euro, and the Sovereign Debt Crisis is an engaging and informative account of a country gone wrong and a must-read for anyone interested in world events and global economics.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomberg Press; 1 edition (December 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047097611X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470976111
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Matthew Lynn (London, UK) is an experienced financial writer and commentator. He is a business and economics commentator for Bloomberg Television, columnist for Bloomberg News, as well as Money Week in the UK, and associate editor and columnist for the Spectator magazine in London. Before that, he worked for The Sunday Times in London for ten years as a business writer and columnist. Under the slightly different name, Matt Lynn, he is also the author of the 'Death Force' series of military thrillers published by Hodder Headline.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A.I. 8706 on April 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is pretty remarkable. It starts with a correct premise: the global economic meltdown of the last 3 years was fundamentally about debt. It also ends with a correct conclusion: the Euro is a terrible idea. But everything in between is largely wrong on the macroeconomics. It's a classic example of a journalist taking raw data, analyzing it wrongly, and coming to a conclusion that plays well to a lay audience, but which is fundamentally misleading. While there are too many problems to list (I'll put aside the abundance of typos; was there no copy editor...?), I'll focus on two big ones in this review.

First, Lynn introduces Mundell's idea of Optimal Currency Areas to make a case for why the Euro is a bad idea. It's the right theory, but a horrific misapplication. Yes, the core European economies (Germany, France, et al.) are fundamentally different from the peripheral European economies (Greece, Spain, et al.), but no more different than, say, New York's and Mississippi's economies. So why is the US an optimal currency area while Europe isn't? The answer is a simple one, which Lynn ignores. It has everything to do with language and labor mobility. In the US, if California's economy is in deep recession while Arizona's, or even Florida's, is booming, people can relocate without much problem. Since everyone speaks the same language and the culture is essentially still the same, the transition is fairly seamless. The implication of that is that the central bank can focus on stabilizing broad aggregates-- even if one region's economy is struggling while the US as a whole is overheated, the Fed can still confidently raise interest rates and know that people will relocate from the depressed area to the one where jobs are in abundance, thereby stabilizing the national economy.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By sweiss on December 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Great, interesting read that involves; Sarkozy, Merkel, Geithner, etc.. in an enthralling story of the ECB and the European Union. I recommend the book based on that.

but his thesis (I guess I'll call it that) is that the Euro is doomed. I don't see that.

Regardless, if your interested in the subject buy the book and enjoy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James Stam on June 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Great book overall. Good recap of how we got here.

However, no mention is made of the efforts made by New democracy government to cut Geeece's debt in early 90s, as if it was not possible that a Greek gvt. could try to be responsible. The Mitsotakis (who is never mentioned once in the book, see index) gvt. was defeated after 3 years in power with massive demonstrations against any cuts to the unions power or any major privatizations. Had the people been more responsible in not throwing out this gvt. (the Fyrom name issue was also a factor), then maybe cuts to debt would have made the present better a la Canada in the 90s and today.

The successive gvts. were paralyzed to do anything because they remembered what happened to the Constantine Mitsotakis gvt. when it tried to reform the country. How the author never mentions this part of modern Greece history is either a disbelief or an attempt to hide the fact that Greek gvts. could try to be responsible.

Other than that, a recommended read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
a Bloomberg columnist, the author structured this book with historical financial as well as political data. Lynn offers a non-US centered view of the tensions leading to the formation of the Euro, as well as the mounting pressure of a possible Greek lead demise. The final chapter outlines some options, but the book mostly exposes multiple options for future course. A must read for financial history buffs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If the myriad of acronyms and conflicting pundit opinions on mainstream news always leaves you wanting for figuring out what exactly is wrong over there, Matthew Lynn's book really helps get to the core of the structural problems with the Euro currency union. Towards the end he does get more into the tail risks of a potential breakup, however unlikely this outcome is, this make more a fascinating read.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is the most useful book on the euro's disastrous effects. The way that governments dealt with the credit crunch (printing money and lending at 1 per cent) paved the way to the present crisis, caused by the euro. The euro has turned the EU into a debt union, a union of deflation and disaster.

Greece joined the euro in 2001, and was at once allowed to borrow whatever it wanted. Indebtedness doubled to 230 per cent of GDP by 2008. Goldman Sachs arranged swaps that disguised the extent of Greece's debts. Greece has 300 billion euros of debt.

Spain had a huge property bubble, the world's second biggest trade deficit (foreign debts were 95 per cent of GDP by 2009), and families owed 130 per cent of their disposable income. Since the euro was launched, Spain's debt levels have doubled to 366 per cent of GDP.

Ireland's debt relative to GDP more than doubled to more than 700 per cent of GDP; the financial sector's debt alone was 410 per cent of GDP. France, Germany and Britain have a combined exposure to Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain of $1.2 trillion.

In May 2010, the EU put together a 750 billion euro package to save the euro - 440 billion to a special fund which would sell debt directly to markets and use that cash to buy government bonds of high-deficit countries; 60 billion from the EU budget - the European Stabilisation Mechanism - whereby the Commission can issue bonds, using the EU's 140 billion annual budget as collateral; and 250 billion from the IMF. Britain is liable for 8 billion euros (corresponding to our 13.6 per cent share of the EU budget), if any country that has received these loans defaults on them.
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