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Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History Paperback – September 6, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; 8.7.2011 edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529969
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Taibbi eviscerates Wall Street for what he considers frauds perpetrated on the American people over the last ten years. Deftly delving deeply into complicated financial history and lingo, Taibbi deftly lays the subject bare, rendering heretofore-dense subject matter simple without being simplistic. Blame for the recent mortgage collapse, commodities bubble, and tech bubble are laid at the feet of a relatively small number of bankers and traders who, in the author's opinion, act without fear of reciprocity from a U.S. government no longer representative of the American people. He begins by awarding the title "Biggest Asshole In The Universe" to former-Fed Chief Alan Greenspan, taking him to task for willfully or stupidly disemboweling what little regulation the financial markets may have had before his tenure. This theme resounds throughout, and Taibbi asserts that the collusion between Wall Street and the White House has effectively turned the United States into a massive casino, in which working Americans are regularly bilked out of their savings and homes while the wealthy are repeatedly rewarded for their graft. It's an important and worthy read, but not for the Randian disciple or Goldman-Sachs alum. (Nov.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Rolling Stone contributing editor Taibbi delivers a blistering examination of the upheaval that has roiled the American economic system over the past several years. At the heart of the upheaval, he says, is a vein of greed running up and down the real-estate industry, from mortgage brokers who falsified customer loan applications to banks that parceled out mortgages to second and third parties to rating agencies that signed off on highly suspect loans. Taibbi saves a good deal of venom for former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, arguing that Greenspan’s philosophy of easy cash, limited government oversight of markets, and bailing out “too big to fail” financial institutions all fueled the recent economic meltdown. And Taibbi profiles a recently passed health-care bill severely compromised by an all-powerful insurance lobby. As critical as he is of the process—a process not likely to get fixed any time soon—he doesn’t seem to carry an agenda; instead, like any good investigative reporter, he mostly follows his nose. --Alan Moores --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Well written, readable, very interesting.
bjwj
Mr. Taibbi does a very good job of explaining how finance works in terms that everyone can understand.
Malvin
This is one of the most important books I've read in a long time.
David Siegel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

409 of 424 people found the following review helpful By sneaky-sneaky VINE VOICE on November 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Wow, what a wonderful piece of depressing work. Matt Taibbi writes like the manic offspring of Hunter S. Thompson and William F. Buckley, his prose has a wicked, glinting edge, he pulls no punches in his tirades, and he lays the blame for the current economy squarely at the door of unparalleled Wall Street greed and White House collusion.
The American economy has been hollowed into a huge funnel, and everything poured into it is sucked out the other end by the rapacious maw of Goldman Sachs. Why Goldman? Well, as Mr. Taibbi points out, they are the only ones left. Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, Bear Stearns was swallowed, and AIG burned down for the insurance money. There are now fewer entities to siphon off the profits, and curiously enough, Goldman had former executives posted throughout both the Bush and Obama administrations, not to mention the Fed and the governorship of NJ!
The three major bubbles that recently struck the economy all emanated from Wall Street. The tech, commodity, and housing bubbles were engineered to squeeze every last dime out of America regardless of the future.
Wall Street has responded to Taibbi's Rolling Stone articles by disapproving of language that describes various CEOs as "mf"ers, and their websites as "BS.com" and other colorfully correct terminology; but Wall Street forgot to refute the facts, they haven't attempted to dispute what they did. A few CEOs have tried to blame the mortgage meltdown on subprime, complaining that lower income folks were socially engineered into housing--a swipe at both people and policy--but as Taibbi correctly points out, you can find maybe 1.4 trillion in subprime, but another 13 trillion is still missing.
There must be a few one star reviews up for 'Griftopia' by now, as Mr.
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235 of 245 people found the following review helpful By VMR on November 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was oddly comforting reading Taibbi's book the day after midterm elections. Reading 'Griftopia' convinced me that the Tea party, crazy people in Congress, the President who is doing his esoteric bipartisanship song and dance - nothing really matters. We have all been so profoundly screwed over, and for such a long time, that current political freak show will not make one iota of difference. Taibbi so neatly sums up life through the end of the USA as we know it (or the USA we believe we know) that I thought the outrage is beside the point.
The most devastating passage for me is the one where he explains what this country could have done with $13 trillion spent on bailouts: pay every mortgage in existence, and build house for every American who doesn't have one. He writes: "But we didn't do that, and we didn't spend money on anything else useful, either. Why? For a very good reason. Because we are no good anymore at building bridges and highways or coming up with brilliant innovations in energy or medicine... What are we good at? Robbing what's left." Devastating, and at the same time weirdly liberating. I would, after all, rather know the worst truth, than live in the fantasy USA we are being sold every day through our irresponsible media and callous politicians.
Taibbi's been compared to Michael Lewis, but I find this comparison plain lazy. Lewis writes about financial shenanigans with measured cynicism, and with a sort of appreciation for bankers who destroyed middle class of this country. Unlike him, Taibbi doesn't mince words, or tries to appear coolly above it all. He's, after all, as screwed up as is the rest of us.
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Paul E. Richardson VINE VOICE on November 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is totally appropriate that Griftopia was released on election day. For, as Taibbi shows, elections really don't matter. Democrats and Republicans are all in on the Long Con that has emasculated our political system and made it (and all of us) beholden to Wall Street.

Taibbi cut his journalistic teeth, as it were, in the streets of 1990s Moscow, practicing gonzo journalism as a partner in the anything but PC expat paper "The Exile". So he knows from corruption and dollar politics. And in Griftopia he shows how greed and corruption have saturated the fabric of our political life so completely that we rarely recognize its extent or its chief spokesmen.

Like Alan Greenspan, whom the media painted as a parable-speaking sage, but whom Taibbi shows to be a charlatan bizarrely infatuated with Ayn Rand, and a guy who repeatedly got it wrong (throughout his entire career) about where the economy was headed. Yet Greenspan was perfectly clear about where he wanted the economy to go: decreasing banking/corporate/Wall Street regulation and taxes on the rich. He was, in fact, a chief architect of the hoovering of riches from the working to the monied classes, which Taibbi shows has been the underlying factor in every bubble created over the last 20 years.

The revelations are legion here. Of the insider deals in the 2008 Bailout, of the swindlers behind the housing bubble, of the ridiculously short-sighted trend of covering budget deficits by leasing key municipal assets to foreign sovereign wealth funds, and the trillion dollar sellout that was the Obama healthcare plan.

And Taibbi knows of what he speaks, having spent considerable time reporting directly on the the Tea Party, in Washington and on the campaign trail.
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