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Contagion: The Financial Epidemic That is Sweeping the Global Economy... and How to Protect Yourself from It Paperback – June 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470593679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470593677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,282,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

During these turbulent economic times, with what could be the deepest global recession we've ever seen bearing down on us, the one thing you don't need is another book describing how we've gotten to this point. What you do need are insights into what will happen going forward and how you can use this information to protect what really matters—including the value of your home and portfolio as well as the security of your job and way of life. If that is your goal, this book is a must-read.

While the concepts surrounding our current situation may be complicated, you don't need to be an economic expert to understand what's going on and what may happen next. But you do need to be prepared, and the analysis offered here can help both anxious individuals who are just starting to realize the magnitude of this event as well as those more familiar with finance get through the difficult times ahead.

Over the course of the last decade, bestselling author and former investment banker John Talbott's string of accurate predictions regarding the bursting of the Internet stock and housing bubbles, the mortgage mess, and downturns in the general economy have been well documented in his numerous books including Slave Wages, The Coming Crash in the Housing Market, and Sell Now!: The End of the Housing Bubble.

Now, with Contagion, he puts his reputation on the line again and boldy predicts how the current global economic crisis may change our lives for much longer than politicians care to admit.

Using a much broader definition of the term "contagion"—to include financial, governmental, and societal matters—this timely book offers essential insights that investors, business executives, and concerned citizens must be aware of in order to protect themselves and their assets, companies, and lives from a prolonged and deep global recession.

Page by page, Talbott explains the history behind our present economic condition and, more importantly, helps us understand where we go from here. He explains the severity of the financial and economic problems plaguing us and the reasons behind them.

Talbott's analysis of the current financial crisis and its root causes extends far beyond simple subprime mortgage lending. He explains that all types of lending will be threatened in the brave new world and that the economy won't recover until banks, businesses, government, and consumers all deleverage and learn to live with less debt and less consumption. But, Talbott does not stop there. He blames deregulation for allowing the banks to do this to us, but also blames our government representatives who took campaign contributions in exchange for a laissez faire approach to market regulation. Finally, he asks each of us to reflect on the importance of materialism and consumption in trying to define and live a full and rich life.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

For more than a decade, bestselling author and former investment banker John Talbott has accurately called many of the major financial crises we have faced long before they occurred. In 2003, he predicted the housing market collapse in his bestselling book, The Coming Crash in the Housing Market. In 2006, he foretold the peak in housing prices and wisely explained Sell Now!, in a timely sequel to his bestseller. Most recently, he insightfully probed the bottom-up economic policies that would guide Barack Obama to the White House in his book Obamanomics.

Past is always prologue for Talbott, and his economic reasoning and free-thinking forecasts about the future have captured people's attention. In his latest book, Contagion, he again warns about what once seemed implausible and impossible—the deepest global recession the world has ever seen, one that will forever shake the economic foundations and social fabric of our lives.

"Talbott is the author of two books that foretold the pain homeowners are now experiencing. . . . So far many of John Talbott's predictions have been spot-on. But as the housing bust continues, homeowners in my neighborhood and beyond have every reason to hope his prescience proves short-lived."
—Daniel McGinn, national correspondent, Newsweek, and author of House Lust: America's Obsession with Our Homes

"When John Talbott's controversial book, The Coming Crash in the Housing Market, hit store shelves in 2003, the real estate industry—and everyone else who stood to profit from the dizzying rise in U.S. home prices—gave it a hostile reception. So, with subprime mortgage losses and credit woes now the number one topic in the markets, what does the former Goldman Sachs investment banker see next?"
—The Globe and Mail (September 14, 2007)

With the worldwide financial crisis and economic contagion mutating in ways that foreshadow global economic meltdown, Talbott explores the necessary government actions and reforms—and strategies that investors can use—to weather one of the worst financial crises in history. Never have Talbott's predictions been as bold, or his advice about what to do in the future more timely.

Customer Reviews

I found this book to be extremely engaging and enlightening.
D. Buxman
I hope, as he, that we survive this experience and will make changes to prevent it from happening in the future.
Bill G. Avery
In 2003, I read my first John Talbott's book, The Coming Crash in the Housing Market.
Box Theory

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Box Theory on January 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 2003, I read my first John Talbott's book, The Coming Crash in the Housing Market. He was simply ahead of his time with his prediction of the housing market, Fannie Mae, Freddic Mac, etc. In 2006, I read Sell Now, and this was right before THE PEAK, and this time he was simply spot on. Of course, he wrote Obamanomics, when everybody thought Hillary was going to win. This is how good this author is.

Naturally, I devourved his latest book, Contagion. This book has no charts, no tables, but the message is clear: this time the recession is gonna be deep and long, and no countries can escape it, and there are only a few things you can do: cash, TIPS, gold, and if you must, only one other country to invest in. He has another message, that our country has been hijacked, and this mess is not an accident, and we need reforms.

Regarding his prediction about this recession, I just hope that he is wrong just this one time. But given the case he laid out, I think that's just wishful thinking.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Buxman TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book goes beyond the simple "Sub-Prime Mortgage," expose' to explain the root causes of the recent financial meltdown in an interesting and understandable way. While sub-prime lending may have been the first shoe to drop, the fundamental problem was one of greed and complicity among all of the bad actors from appraisers and mortgage brokers to investment bankers and members of Congress who took their money and turned a blind eye to what was about to happen.
Sadly, the means of protecting yourself from this catastrophe are limited since the vast majority of "investments," are still heading down, but the author does point out that cash, TIPS and gold might hold value in the long run, along with judicious investments in China. In the final analysis, we need to cut our national leaders off their lobbyist habits and allow the marketplace and bankruptcy courts to clean up the garbage that has been created.
I found this book to be extremely engaging and enlightening. While I usually read 4 or 5 books at the same time, I couldn't put this one down and finished it in just a day or so. Although the elements of this financial disaster change on a daily basis, the general course of the author's predictions remains true and his observations continue to have merit, even though Treasury's TARP program as described by the author has morphed into a no strings attached Wall Street Giveaway.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on January 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The current market crisis could not have been accomplished without significant deregulation. This occurred through lobbying - a study concluded that business lobbying provides a 400:1 payback in just tax benefits, with more benefits from blocking competition, aid with union-busting, etc. Senator Shumer's top 10 contributors are the biggest financial institutions he's supposed to regulate on the Senate Banking Committee.

Hedge funds, some of the biggest lobbyists, have no reporting requirements and no supervision; meanwhile, they grew the CDS market from $140 billion ten years ago to $65 trillion today.

Losses due to current market crash are in the trillions ($8 trillion in residential real estate, $2 trillion in commercial real estate, and $6 trillion in the stock market - not easily absorbed or ignored in a $14 trillion economy and when the federal government already is in debt $55 trillion, with an additional $1 trillion/year trade deficit as well.

Bear Stearns had $190 billion of external debt, and there was close to $2 trillion of CDS to guarantee it. Talbott uses this to substantiate his conclusion that massive gambling is going on - most likely via hedge funds writing lots of bogus swap insurance.

Talbott becomes confused when covering property tax yields - unless there's a limit on tax rates, declining assessed values do not limit tax revenues as the rates simply increase proportionately. Also his point that GDP is not an adequate measure of economic activity misses the point that it counts $1 of "Made in China" the same as "Made in the U.S.A."

Talbott sees Paulson's plan as creating greater moral hazard for the future (What else has the Federal Reserve and the Treasury been doing for the last 50 years besides bailing out the market?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bill G. Avery on February 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of John's books more than once and continue to be amazed at the accuracy with which he can discern the economic consequences from a history of social behaviors.

I experienced my first, so called, real estate bubble during the sixties and was buying duplexes in the San Francisco Bay area for $13,000 each in its aftermath. I have also studied every bubble since, and agree that the magnitude of the forces driving the current Financial melt down has created the mother of all perfect storms which will likely lead to world altering consequences.

He, rightly, does not blame capitalism for the current financial problems, but has much to say about corrupt politicians, lobbysts and greedy corporate leaders who line their pockets at the expense of stock holders and working citizens while creating losses and a costly clean up for them.

He very astutely points out that this recession is different from all the others, noting that the residential real estate market is leading this one down for the first time in our history. He notes that recessions usually begin with a business decline followed by high unemployment and then falling housing prices. He suggests that the consequences of the unprecedented activities that produced this housing led crisis will be severe and wide spread, with global affects.

I was pleased to learn that he believes capitalism, operating in a well regulated republic is the strongest economic model in existence. He offers that capitalism works so well that it has the ability, unless properly regulated, to over-heat and meltdown from time to time.

He makes a strong case for eliminating lobbyist, who corrupt and interfere with regulations, from government altogether.
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More About the Author

John offers financial consulting advice on a very personal and confidential basis to individuals and families. You can learn more about his One on One consulting activities at

John R. Talbott is the bestselling author of nine books on economics and politics that have accurately detailed and predicted the causes and devastating effects of this entire financial crisis including, in 2003, The Coming Crash in the Housing Market. In 2004, he correctly identified corporate and banking lobbyists and big corporate money in politics as the major underlying cause of the current crisis with, Where America Went Wrong. In January 2006, he called the absolute peak month of home prices in the US by releasing, Sell Now! The End of the Housing Bubble and warned that the problem was not local, or even national, but international. In 2008, his book, Contagion: The Financial Epidemic That Is Sweeping the Global Economy predicted the subprime mortgage problem developing in the US would mutate and grow and infect not only prime mortgages, but other markets such as the stock market, commercial real estate, the municipal bond market, as well as threaten the solvency of banks and governments around the globe leading to a very long, deep and painful global recession. In 2009, The 86 Biggest Lies on Wall Street exposed the ineptness of the government's response to the crisis and the futility of enacting real reform of Wall Street when Wall Street itself is the biggest lobbyist of our congress.

Formerly, an investment banker for Goldman Sachs and a Visiting Scholar at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, Talbott has written peer reviewed academic research on democracy, inequality, AIDS prevention and developing country economics and has acted as an economic adviser to Jordan and Russia. He has made presentations on economics and politics throughout the United States and in Italy and Australia. He graduated from Cornell's School of Engineering and received an MBA from UCLA. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Herald Tribune, the New Republic, the Huffington Post and He has appeared as a financial expert on television for CNN, CBS, Fox News, CNBC, FBN, CSPAN and MSNBC as well as on hundreds of radio programs. Talbott, whose family has lived in Kentucky for 230 years is the son of a career Army officer, is 57 years old, single, an avid college football and basketball fan and lives on the left coast with his faithful companion, Boca Jr., who rarely objects to any of Talbott's writings or politics except when it is time to go for a walk.

The media can contact Talbott at as well as anyone who might be interested in discussing possible speaking engagements. Those interested in learning more about Talbott's one on one consulting service can find information here

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