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Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed Paperback – November 8, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; New Updated Edition edition (November 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844676536
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844676538
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mason (Live Working or Die Fighting), the economics editor of BBC Newsnight, relies on accessible and pithy language to lay out the time line of the meltdown of the U.S. economy in September 2008 and its global reverberations. He details the root causes, names names with impunity and place the blame squarely on the shoulders of policymakers. He argues that when the law governing debt to capital ratios was quietly changed in 2004, this gave banks carte blanche to do whatever they needed to do to make money. Mason writes, Had the old capital restrictions been in place, it is unlikely that any of the Wall Street banks could have built up toxic debts on the scale that eventually sank them. With a quick history (and refutation) of neoliberal ideology, he makes his case that we are seeing the closing of an era; the future heralds the end of the old world banking system business model in favor of low-profit, utility-style banking. This is an instructive and succinct play-by-play of the global crisis, helpful for anyone in finance, economics or even policy. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A page-turning account ... Mason is refreshingly clear-eyed—and angry.”—Will Hutton, The Guardian

“Excellent.”—Evening Standard

“What people need is a reliable guide to the financial crisis ... Meltdown is the book they are looking for.”—John Gray, The New Statesman

“A lucid and sharply polemical account.”—Oliver Kamm, The Times [London]

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Richard Knox on May 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since the fall of 2008 I've bought and read 35 books on economic related subjects - most from Amazon here - and been scanning 17 blogs by experts such as Krugman and Simon Johnson in my attempt to understand what is really happening - how the current financial crisis evolved and where it is going.

This book gives Mason's (economics editor for BBC's newsnight) perspective in a comprehensive logical detailed way - backed up by 230 footnotes; and gives a logical explanation of where we are probably headed.

He explains how world forces are breaking the dominance of the US oligarchs and will probably force the US into having a responsible financial sector. He describes a future evolving as a struggle between the workers of China - versus the power structure of China - versus the class interests of the West.

It is by far the best explanation I've seen.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Doepke on August 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mason's brief work (170 pps.) presents an incisive digest of a global meltdown that came with the kind of suddenness that left many of us asking, "What happened?". The first few chapters provide a week-to-week account of the meltdown itself, a helpful timeline of how the crisis unfolded. The next section looks at the more remote background events and assumptions behind the crisis, chiefly deregulation and neo-liberal policy. The last part may be the most challenging by examining the structure of neo-liberalism itself, mainly from the critical standpoints of Kondratieff and Minsky. The general conclusion is that neo-liberal policy is dead for the foreseeable future, and a more "socialized" banking system recommends itself as the best and perhaps only solution.

He writes in mid-February, 2009, and as of this moment in August, the Obama administration shows no sign of a major bank overhaul, let alone a successor model to neo-liberalism. By Mason's lights, this means a prolonged slump with a very murky future. Be that as it may, the book is a succinct and timely account for the layperson, and I particularly appreciate the inclusion of a glossary of terms. I sometimes think these high-level train wrecks occur because the general public is excluded by the arcane terminology of finance itself. Worse, it's the same public who then pay the price by having to survive amid the debris.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By GlobalChangeSupercenter5 on January 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
The title is of course wrong - There will never be an end to greed, and the idea that this represents the end of an age is now highly dubious. Still, the combination of on-the-spot journalism and great intellectual command makes this slim book a marvelous read and achievement. Paul Mason is a fine writer, and strong thinker, and since this was one of the most incredible economic happenings of all time, we need his voice to make sense of what is going on around our ears.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on June 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
Paul Mason, the economics editor of BBC Newsnight, has written a powerful study of the crash. He surveys the financial meltdown, the decade that led to the disaster, and the life and death of neo-liberalism.

Gordon Brown told us in June 2007 that deregulating Britain's banks would be `the beginning of a new golden age'. The bankers lied that they took high risks so they deserved their high rewards. But they took the profits from industrial production and put them into finance, not back into industry: "the end result is that profits are funnelled from ordinary savers into the pockets of the rich."

The bankers created the credit bubbles in dotcom, housing and commodities. Speculators bought technologies, houses, oil, rice, wheat and soya, until all the bubbles burst, laying waste those parts of the real economy.

After the financial crisis, the governments bought the banks' debts as dearly as possible, so as not to penalise them, running up huge debts and printing money, to save the banks, whatever the cost to the economy. There are $10 trillions' worth of toxic loans, only $1 trillion of which has been written off so far.

The world's workforce has doubled since 1979 to three billion. This huge supply of labour has tilted the balance of power from labour towards capital. So now we need to fight smarter for higher wages, and for a different economy.

To do so, workers will have to reject what Mason calls the `low-level, non-ideological, anti-political culture' of the anti-globalisation movement. He points out, "In the same month that half a million American workers would lose their jobs, the main focus of the Non-Governmental Organisations leaflets was `Don't forget aid to Africa'." We should reject the NGOs' slogan `Think globally, act locally'.
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