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The Chastening: Inside the Crisis That Rocked the Global Financial System and Humbled the IMF Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st edition (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891620819
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891620812
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An author who tries to write an engaging book about the International Monetary Fund faces a daunting task. Who besides devoted readers of The Financial Times would want to read it? With The Chastening, however, Paul Blustein offers a remarkably accessible account of this off-putting institution and its importance to the world economy. "The IMF cultivates its mystique, seeking to appear all-knowing, scientific, and detached. To outsiders, it often comes across as a high priesthood with pretensions of divine powers and insight," he writes. Blustein tears down this façade as he recounts some of the epic struggles of recent years: "As markets were sinking and defaults looming, the guardians of global financial stability were often scrambling, floundering, improvising, and striking messy compromises." Through dozens of interviews with IMF insiders, Blustein reveals how the institution really works--and how it often doesn't. There are fast-paced stories of success and failure on these pages, as Blustein describes efforts to bail out faltering economies in Korea, Russia, and elsewhere. Best of all, readers don't need economics degrees to keep pace: anybody who simply wants a primer on global financial systems will be well served by Blustein. --John Miller

From Library Journal

While not an economic treatise, this marvelous work by Washington Post staff writer Blustein provides an in-depth look at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its 1997-99 crisis-fighting efforts in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Russia, and Brazil. Using firsthand interviews, the author provides a brief history of the IMF, a critical look at the institutions and mechanisms involved in IMF programs, and an effective portrayal of their relationship with other key players in international finance, including the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Federal Reserve, the G-7, and the World Bank. Noting that the IMF was created to help countries correct problems in their economic fundamentals, the author contends that, owing to globalization, liberalization of the international currency market, and the emergence of what the author describes as the "Electronic Herd" of nontraditional economic interests, institutions like the IMF must adapt to ever-increasing challenges and evolve to meet these challenges. To this end, Blustein offers a number of noteworthy ideas for solving existing problems and fixing the international financial architecture. Recommended for both academic and public libraries. Norm Hutcherson, California State Univ., Bakersfield
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Very informative and entertaining.
John Mudd Gonzalez
In the eyes of the public, the government was responsible for the policies...even though a large part was dictated by the IMF.
Jay Busari
I'll let you read that for yourself.
LD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As an economics professor, I'm always skeptical of books about economics written by journalists. Economics can be quite complicated, and far too often journalists without serious (graduate-level) training in economics show a remarkable lack of understanding of even basic economic issues. They pose as "experts" but they don't really know what they're talking about...
So I was very pleasantly surprised when I picked up this book. Blustein does a really impressive job of examining in detail the crisis of 1997-1998 and the role of the IMF. The economics is impeccable and he explains it clearly. And he's tremendously effective at bringing to life the "drama" of the crisis and the very difficult decisions that policy-makers face during a crisis like this one.
I also appreciated the fact that, while being quite critical of the IMF, Blustein is also balanced in his assessment, and careful about avoiding gratuitous "IMF bashing" and about making it clear that there are a lot of very smart people at the IMF who work very hard to do their job well.
This is a great book for anybody who wants to gain a greater understanding of the international financial system and of the role of the IMF. Lively, accurate, never boring, it's one of the best non-technical books about an economic event that I've ever read.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By m_noland on October 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This superb book should become the standard popular reference on the International Monetary Fund and the financial crises that swept the globe in 1997-98. Paul Blustein has a background in economics and first-hand experience in Asia where the crises originated. The book is well documented: Blustein conducted hundreds of interviews (unlike his Washington Post colleague Woodward, he actually names his sources) and is familiar with the academic literature on the subject. Indeed, this entertaining book does a marvelous job of explaining the substantive economic issues while at the same time conveying the very human disorder of crisis management as practiced during these episodes. It is less doctrinaire than Friedman's cheerleading for globalization in "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" and is far better informed on economic policy making than Woodward's "Maestro." (Simply compare Blustein's highly informative descriptions of the Korean and Long Term Capital Management crises with the complete hash of the same episodes that Woodward produced in "Maestro.") Highly recommended.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a highly readable account about a serious economic crisis that most Americans missed. But Blustein makes you care--and makes you understand why the so-called Committee to Save the World (Greenspan, Rubin and Summers) made some poor choices and only through sheer luck managed to escape with their reputations enhanced. Blustein's description of the International Monetary Fund is eye-opening, and he will make you think twice the next time you read a story buried in the business section about another IMF loan to a struggling country. Blustein knows his stuff and has done his homework. This is a rare book that teaches you something new--and makes you think.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Enter the world of high international finance. Mr. Blustein has managed to present an extremely readable (fun, dramatic, engaging) account of the tragic economic crises that are now called the "first of the XXI century".
Not only will you learn the economic details of the crises in Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil and Long-Term Capital Management. You will also find yourself in the rooms where IMF staff negotiated with authorities. You will take a glimpse at the halls of the Treasury and the Fed, where Rubin, Greenspan and Co., proved their genius as policymakers. You will be humbled by the ferocity of international capital and about "how close we where".
Still the great lesson is that we need not oppose globalization to build a better future. Rather you will fell as having read the first steps of a new world which we are only beggining to understand. Hence the need to understand what happened to build a stronger international financial architecture with stronger institutions.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Mudd Gonzalez on September 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this book after reading Dr. Stiglitz criticism on the IMF. Actually, Stiglitz quotes him. Contrary to Stiglitz', Mr. Blustein's book reads fast, makes some of the same criticism Stiglitz does but one does not feel he has an ax to grind. If you want to read a good book on the Asian financial crisis and Russia's default on its own ruble debt, this is the book for you. Very informative and entertaining.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was hard to put down. It managed to make monetary policies and international banking lucid and meaningful. It does this in the context of telling the gripping "story behind the headlines" of a number of recent international financial meltdowns. The book made these events much clearer and put them in a coherent perspective. Recent events in Argentina and Japan make far more sense to me having read the book. However, I am also far more concerned both about the potential consequences and about the industrialized countries' inability to avert financial disasters. I have passed the book on to two others who share my opinion of it.
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