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Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover Paperback – January 9, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books (January 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584334
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584331
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.9 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,146,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the Editor and Publisher of The Nation, and the author of several books including Taking Back America and Dictionary of Republicanisms. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

How can the free market be blamed when we have not had a free market?
James I. Greene
As the authors do not understand this, they fail to identify the solution to our current crisis, which is a return to sound monetary and fiscal policies.
Nicholas Bailey
It wasn't simply "greed"--the Fed and the government caused the so called "meltdown".
DivideByZero

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
This collection of articles from the US journal The Nation gives fascinating insights into capitalism's continuing crisis. The Clinton administration and the Federal Reserve Bank together blocked efforts to regulate credit derivatives. They created a debt casino. The Fed, under `maestro' Alan Greenspan, never saw the bubble coming, yet The Nation's Dean Baker warned in August 2004 of a housing bubble, as did William Greider in September 2005, forecasting `dramatic price inflation in real estate'.

Wall Street is no better than a criminal conspiracy against the American people. As Steve Fraser writes, "Wall Street, after all, had been convicted in the court of public opinion of reckless, incompetent, self-interested, even felonious behavior, with consequences so devastating for the rest of the country that government was licensed to make sure it didn't happen again."

But the government has failed to make sure it won't happen again. Its spending cuts will only deepen the slump. The IMF said that balancing the US budget would cut its current account deficit only slightly, but would cut output by more than $300 billion over five years.

The ruling class wants slow or no growth, high unemployment and low inflation, because these bring high profits. Trade unions in the USA are calling this the `job-loss recovery'. Laws protecting capital are mandatory; laws protecting labour are nugatory. Low inflation boosts the prices of financial assets, pumping up the financial bubble.

Faced with static or falling wages, price rises and job cuts, too many workers have chosen not to fight for wages and for jobs but instead to run up debts, dig into their savings and pensions, and remortgage their homes. So they have become dependent on building societies and banks.
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43 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Bailey on March 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
The authors fail to mention that all of the 'greed' and 'corruption' cited in the book was completely enabled (and even encouraged) by our government and Federal Reserve. This enablement was not a result of a lack of regulation and oversight, but rather the easy-money policies increasingly promoted by both Republicans and Democrats over the past thirty years. As the authors do not understand this, they fail to identify the solution to our current crisis, which is a return to sound monetary and fiscal policies.
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63 of 90 people found the following review helpful By DivideByZero on February 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
The "Meltdown" book to read is called:

Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse

"A new New Deal?" Jesse Jackson is a credible economist now? (Civil rights activist sure, but no, not an economist.) Please, give us a break from this insanity. Even if you read this terrible book (which simply rehashes all the fuzzy economics on the TV news anyway), at least read Thomas Woods' "Meltdown" book as well to get the competing view.

It wasn't simply "greed"--the Fed and the government caused the so called "meltdown".
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44 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Ross on February 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I like Katrina, and commend her on her rare and principled stand against the Iraq War long before such views were popular. That said, I think she would do well to read Thomas Wood's book "Meltdown" for a clear understanding as to what caused the collapse and what we should do to restore prosperity.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on April 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Mass foreclosures, bank failures, and hundred-billion-dollar bailouts rocked America in 2008-2009. "Meltdown" is a collection of articles published in "The Nation" and its website, beginning long before the crisis was obvious.

Contributors are convinced that the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, allowing the merger of closely regulated commercial banks with unregulated investment houses was a major contributor to this crisis. It was precipitated by the 1998 merger of Citigroup and Travelers Insurance (Soloman, Smith, Barney Brokerage was later also added). The merger was a violation of laws separating banks and insurance companies, but the two exploited loopholes giving the merger a temporary exemption.

Days after the deal Citigroup hired recently departed Treasury Secretary Rubin to its three-person Chairman's Office, and then began lobbying for permanent approval while donating hundreds of millions to Congressmen. Success came the following year.

"Meltdown" offers no evidence that the repeal of Glass-Steagall added to the current crisis, nor does it mention that most other advanced nations do not have such a prohibition. It was interesting, however, to read that the 1993 FASB proposed counting the value of stock options issued as an expense (eg. would have turned Cisco's 1998 $1.35 billion profit into a $4.9 billion loss), and that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's 1997 efforts to regulate derivatives was blocked by key advisers to Clinton and Obama.

Bottom Line: The material was somewhat interesting, but did not make solid points; lacking that, its' prescriptions for the future are suspect, at best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J.L. Populist on June 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of essays or articles from The Nation.

Some of my observations from the book;

Thomas Frank points out that "market populism" isn't really populism at all. On page 41 he suggests that the "New Economy" has exalted the rich and forgotten the rest with a decisiveness we haven't seen since the twenties.

Bobbi Murray observes that one of the incentives for the expansion of sub-prime mortgages was the direct transfer of money to Wall Street in the form of mortgage-backed securities.

In the essay "Show Me The Money" contributed by Walter Mosley, he differentiates between "middle class" and "working class". An interesting essay!

On page 249 Howard Zinn points out that government has always intervened in the market. "Let's face a historical truth:we never have had a free market."

Among the potential solutions worth noting were those given by William Greider and Howard Zinn on taxation.
Sarah Anderson and Sam Pzzigati's "Victory Over Terror" tax was an idea I haven't heard before.

The only negative mark from me is the lack of documentation or notes on sources.
Still a better book than it gets credit for being.
This book is worth reading.
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