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The New Empire of Debt: The Rise and Fall of an Epic Financial Bubble Hardcover – August 3, 2009

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Read a Chapter Excerpt
In Chapter 1 of The New Empire of Debt, William Bonner explains what can be learned from the mistakes of the past.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 2 edition (August 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470483261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470483268
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"How deficit spending, gluttonous consumption and military adventurism, they say, will bring America to its knees…"
The Economist

"This is a powerful book. In addition to its depth, it is well written, well documented, and vastly readable. I had the feeling of seeing an X-ray of economic reality with the crust removed. It should be made mandatory reading in most circles. Read it, and your views of the world around you will no longer be the same."
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness

"Now perhaps someone will finally listen!"
Jim Rogers, author of Investment Biker, Adventure Capitalist, and Hot Commodities

"Instead of trade and work, imperialism breeds militarism, inflation, and debt, as Bonner and Wiggin show. Yet there is a golden hope in freedom and honest money."
Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., President, Ludwig von Mises Institute

"[Empire of Debt] is a fantastic book. It's thoughtful, erudite, witty, well written, practical . . . and spot-on. If you value your financial health, you'll read it from cover to cover. Now!"
Doug Casey, Chairman, Casey Research, LLC, and author of Crisis Investing

"I laughed, I cried, I renewed my passport. . . . Bonner and Wiggin deliver a steady diet of insight and wit that terrifies the reader, even as it amuses. Empire of Debt is not for everyone, only for those of us who hope to enjoy continuing prosperity amidst difficult conditions."
Eric Fry, Editor, The Rude Awakening

From the Inside Flap

"The Golden Age of American capitalism is over. . . . In the space of half a century it passed from gold, to silver, to paper, and is now somewhere between plastic and navel lint."

—From The New Empire of Debt

In the last half of 2008, the Empire of Debt received the margin call from Hell. Now, all of its citizens are asked to pay up as the U.S. economy stumbles down a dangerous path of financial turmoil. What exactly went wrong?

When things are good, people tend to believe the most outrageous things—that the financial sector could get rich by lending money to people who couldn't pay it back, and that a whole economy could flourish by luring consumers to spend more than they could afford. These hallucinations created an immense worldwide bubble of debt and dollars. And now—with the U.S. government inflating the biggest bubble in public debt the world has ever seen—a financial whirlpool has formed and threatens to drag the entire country down the drain.

In The New Empire of Debt, the internationally acclaimed author team of William Bonner and Addison Wiggin return to reveal how the epic financial bubble that is plaguing the United States will soon bring an end to this once-great empire. Throughout the book, they offer a frightening look atthe United States' precarious position and discuss how government control of the economy and financial system—combined with unfettered deficit spending and gluttonous consumption—has ravaged the business environment, devastated consumer confidence, and pushed the global economy to the brink.

Along the way, Bonner and Wiggin warn of the dangers that lie ahead and offer practical advice to protect your financial well-being as the American empire collapses upon itself. You'll discover that you don't have to tie your own fate to the inevitable destruction of America's system of imperial finance. Instead, you can take some simple steps to weather the crisis.

Bonner and Wiggin have been studying the financial landscape for more than twenty years. With The New Empire of Debt, they not only show you how we got into this mess, but how to get yourself out of it.

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Customer Reviews

Great book and easy read!
eve heffer
The authors have written not only a well researched and thoroughly documented treatise on economics, history and money -- but they did so in a most enjoyable way!
S. Vollum
I did not agree with everything in the book but for the most part the book was a good read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on October 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Authors William Bonner and Addison Wiggin, a couple of economic iconoclasts, have compiled a chilling perspective of a crumbling American financial empire; whose irrational economic policy over the years has created huge buget deficits that defy logic; sooner or later, the bubble is going to burst, and this country is in for an economic disaster of epic proportions.

It's not going to be a pretty picture.

The problem began in the post-Reagan years, when any sort of prudent fiscal policy seemed to become a distant memory. Perhaps the greed & hubris of big government is creating an unrealistic perception that creating an unfathomable budget deficit really won't hurt the economy; just keep borrowing. That's no way to run a business and certainly no way to run a country; except to run it into the ground, financially.

We've become a bailout nation, with little regard for any financial common sense. The Stimulis Package is an ill-conceived plan that is going to be ensuring our long term financial devastation, which our children's children will be still paying off, well into their golden years of retirement. Retirement? What's that?

The message delivered by Bonner and Wiggin is startlingly clear; this country is heading down the primrose path of socialism and it's a cost we won't be able to afford. We're crumbling under a mountain of debt, and the inevitable landslide will prove to be catastrophic, unless our fiscal policy is changed; very soon. We don't have much time to waste; our nation's financial future is on very thin ice.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Athan on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Two confessions first:

1. I've owned the old book since 2006, I looked at it briefly and there was no way I was paying good money to get an extra 50 pages, so the review is actually based on The Empire of Debt. Regardless, I'm rather confident my insights are relevant, for reasons that will hopefully become apparent.

2. I totally loved reading it. I could not put it down. I even went back to re-read some passages, often going on to re-read entire pages or chapters.

Now, for the review proper.

The executive summary is that the authors made a truly amazing set of market calls when this was published in 2005: Sell stocks, sell housing, buy gold. Indeed, "buy gold" are the last two words of the book. At the same time, they based these market calls on a series of hunches and prejudices that it is very difficult for a sensible, educated man to agree with. And the thesis of the book, that the US is an empire in reverse, is preposterous.

But it is so unbelievably funny to read, you kind of wish they were right.

I come from a country that was twice saved by America. Once from the Nazis and soon after that from communism. My parents are to this day unbelievably grateful for this. They paid for me to go study in America, in the process returning a small part of the favor by sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund solid American jobs of the kind the authors like, albeit at an institution they probably despise. I can't square this with the authors' vitriol against American intervention in Europe. As a human being, Wilson may have been as bad as they make him sound, possibly FDR too. But the debt these presidents issued to fund these wars is probably a footnote compared to the benefits, pecuniary and otherwise.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James Mccurry on November 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase




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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A. Jurshevski on August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Read the full review at [...]

"Whilst we do not agree with everything that the book has to say, we agree the majority of the arguments and we find the context and perspective that it brings to these issues refreshing, well researched and well-written. Unlike many of the writers in this space, the prose is not verbose, bombastic or shrill. This is a thoughtful and cogent treatment of the most important issue the World is facing today.

You are in good company reading this book. Among those endorsing it are Pete Petersen, Warren Buffett, David Walker, Paul O'Neill, Jim Rogers and others. We recommend that all elected officials and concerned citizens everywhere consider this book required reading."

* Kakistocracy: Government populated by the most corrupt and inept members of a society.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Johnson VINE VOICE on August 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When this book was released in 2006 it provided truth full facts backed up by mounds and mounds of corroboration. And of course, this well-documented book by Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin was released before the Financial Meltdown of September, 2008. What they had fore casted based on mathematics, demographics, over-spending, and over-borrowing is now coming to fruition. Not opinions, but facts. And since this book was first published, the national debt (and annual deficits) have grown significantly.

"Empire of Debt" got good reviews then, but less attention from the American Mainstream Media when it was first released. Now, in August of 2010 the Mainstream media has jumped on the bandwagon of not "pessimism" but "realism." And yes, this "realism" is not optimistic. 2006 was the height of the housing bubble, and its subsequent correction (not fall), and US economic crisis of September 08, changed the United States. People are waking up. As usual in human psychology, most people become aware (woke up) after the steep slide had begun.

Now, we have a recently updated "New Empire of Debt." Every American should read this book.

Bonner and Wiggin also collaborated on "Financial Reckoning Day," that was published in 2004. Quite prophetic.

In sum, Pete Peterson, David Walker, Jim Rogers, Warren Buffet and others have endorsed "Empire of Debt." This book is mostly a mature, reality-based explanation of the debt itself and the ramifications that *will* occur because of it. The authors do name, names. The only criticism is the "current event" comparison-analogies and innuendo in the historical part of the book is not needed, and likely targeted to a certain target market of readership (that reminds me of the politically partisan TV and radio shows).
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