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The Road to Financial Reformation: Warnings, Consequences, Reforms Hardcover – August 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470532122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470532126
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"OF THE torrent of books being spewed out on the global financial crisis, most fall into one of two categories: the microscopic exploration of a particular episode or scandal, such as the fall of Bear Stearns, or the sweeping attempt to map the meltdown’s moving parts and put it all in an historical context. Henry Kaufman is well placed to deliver the latter, having earned the nickname "Dr Doom"—for his warnings about the dangers of debt bubbles—back in the days when today’s doomster-in-chief, New York University’s Nouriel Roubini, was still in short trousers. His book is an accessible exposition of the causes and consequences of the market trauma . . . Mr Kaufman ruthlessly dissects the past quarter of a century’s financial deregulation. . . He showers his argument with supporting facts and figures. . . A deep thinker on the workings of markets . . ."
—The Economist

"A good read -- and a thought-provoking one."
—Financial World

"Wisdom for a punch-drunk Wall Street. . . gives the lie to the notion that no one saw the financial crisis coming. [Kaufman] was not alone, but was earlier than most. . . In his latest book, Kaufman once again aligns himself with those who believe that a vital task of the central bank is to take away the punchbowl just as the party gets going. Kaufman’s prejudices are well grounded. . . His central insight about banking is old, simple, but profound. . . The occupational hazard of being a financial prophet is that it is impossible to forecast exactly when a bubble will burst. This means that hard-nosed market practitioners tend to discount early warnings. What a shame that Dick Fuld, chief executive of the ill-fated Lehman Brothers, on whose board Kaufman sat, failed to heed the warnings of this remarkable economic sage."
—Financial Times

"Provides an insightful account of the history and impact of post-World War II financial markets on the economy-what happened, how we got to where we are today, and what needs to be done. Drawing on his vast breadth of knowledge and experience, Kaufman reveals the mistakes that got us into this debacle, the consequences-as they have not been fully realized-and how to put our derailed economy back on track. This book details Dr. Kaufman’s warnings and concerns expressed repeatedly throughout the last quarter century, and shows that what he predicted came to pass. . . Provides an insightful account of the history and impact of post-World War II financial markets on the economy. Explores the erosion of credit ratings on corporate debt in the late 1980s and the rapid increase in financial concentration of institutions. Discusses the blinding faith in models that rely on historical data but fail to take into account economic and financial market structural changes. With his breadth of knowledge and experience, Kaufman details that this crisis was foreseeable (he saw it coming), and how we created this history-making financial crisis. He also explains the consequences still to come, and presents solutions on how we can recover and reform the markets."
—The Financial Regulation Forum

"THE ORIGINAL DOCTOR DOOM IS BACK, with some fresh warnings. Henry Kaufman, famous for his bearish views in the 1970s and '80s, now takes up the financial crisis of the past year and urges major reforms. . . chock full of ideas and insightful analysis. . . belongs on the bookshelf of every serious participant in finance and economics."
—Barron’s

"For those interested in why Wall Street imploded and what needs to be done to prevent this in the future will find this book thought provoking. . . provides ideas for potential business opportunities."
—The Bulletin

“If only we had heeded the other Dr. Doom, Henry Kaufman. Bear Stearns Cos. might still be standing. Americans wouldn’t have run up some $34 trillion in domestic nonfinancial debt. And Ben Bernanke could have kept his dollar-spewing helicopter in the hangar. . . Nobody listens to Cassandra, of course, and everybody hates hearing “I told you so” . . . Yet Kaufman’s insider status is the very reason why you should read this book. Here is a withering critique of the follies of deregulation from one of Wall Street’s own. . . Books on financial regulation are by definition dry . . . If the prose gets you down, flip to the telling tables and charts. My favorite is Exhibit 12.1, which lists 15 major credit crises since 1945, starting with a credit crunch in 1966 and running through the various bank failures, crashes, bailouts and bubbles that led inexorably to our own mess. Keep that timeline handy for the next banker, senator or Fed governor who says the financial sector doesn’t need re- regulation. “
— Bloomberg

From the Inside Flap

The crisis of 2007–2008 will reshape the financial world for years to come. Some of the key consequences—such as the revival of household savings, the end of risk modeling, and the persistence of the U.S. dollar as the leading reserve currency—will be welcomed. But others—most notably, the explosion of public debt and the acceleration of financial concentration—portend more trouble for the future. There is no quick fix, says esteemed economist and statesman Henry Kaufman. Expectations for solvency, profits, and growth are suffering severe retrenchment, and the collapse that began in 2007 will affect investor behavior for years to come. Political leaders need to act boldly while ensuring that our market-based economy is not undermined. We need a new set of rules and regulations so that our financial institutions balance entrepreneurial drive with fiduciary responsibilities.

In The Road to Financial Reformation, Kaufman provides an insightful account of the history and impact of post–World War II financial markets on the economy—what happened, how we got to where we are today, and what needs to be done. Drawing on his vast breadth of knowledge and experience, Kaufman reveals the mistakes that got us into this debacle, the consequences—as they have not been fully realized—and how to¿put our derailed economy back on track. He recounts his neglected early warnings about ballooning corporate and personal debt, the trend from financial segmentation to concentration, and the inadequacies in financial oversight. And he suggests a new kind of institution for regulatory oversight to supervise only the largest U.S.-based financial institutions. Intensive official supervision, he asserts, will help make financial conglomerates too good to fail. And because of the thoroughly global nature of today's financial markets, other leading economies throughout the world should be strongly encouraged to establish similar supervisory authorities.

In the financial crises of the early postwar decades, both the economy and financial markets rebounded quickly. Unfortunately, that is far from likely this time around. But with The Road to Financial Reformation, we will at least see a path for moving in the right direction.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jim on April 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Henry Kaufman is a PhD economist who spent 26 years at Salomon Brothers including as head of the investment bank's 4 research departments. In 1988 he became President of his own economic and financial consulting firm. So I was interested to read his take on the financial meltdown.

The first part of the book includes 4 chapters of speeches he presented in the mid to late 1980's at Federal Reserve forums. In them he identifies troubling trends in world finance likely to cause future disruptions. He calls these "Neglected Early Warnings." The themes he cites in these early chapters he repeats in later chapters but with greater macro economic evidence and reasoning. These include 1) the trend to financial concentration underscored by the "too big to fail" status of the financial conglomerates; 2) the loss of segmentation resulting in less transparency; 3)conflicts of interests; 4) reliance on the absoluteness of mathematical modeling; 5) weakening credit quality; 6) a tax code and compensation plans that result in bias towards the use of greater credit and less equity; 7) the redefining of liquidity from an asset basis to access to credit; 8) securitization defined as making marketable assets not otherwise marketable; 9)innovation of financial products with no market history; 10)the drive by financial conglomerates to avoid oversight; 11) the failure of regulatory bodies, especially the Federal Reserve, to do more than to react piecemeal to structural changes.

In covering these he discusses the impact of voiding Glass-Steagall, the elimination of economic history as part of basic business education, and the failure of the Federal Reserve-the primary regulator-to cope, and the failure of Congress to act.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Stan S. Finkelstein on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provided an insightful overview of the causes of the current financial "meltdown" and future strategies to avoid a recurrence. The book is well written, but not an easy read for the layman. I highly recommend this book for those involved in the finance industry or those teaching finance at the undergraduate or graduate levels.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Darchivist on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A doctor doesn't wish his patient ill, but neither does he sugar coat the truth. Henry Kaufman has been telling the truth about the fragility of the global financial system for years. Now, with the recent experience of financial crisis still fresh in the hearts and minds of investors and regulators, this new book lays out how we got here and some possible next steps. The writing is crisp, the ideas carefully considered. All in all, a great place to start reconstructing our view of how financial markets work and what to do when they don't. Thank you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Kaufman does try to communicate what he feels are the impetuses for the recent economic crises. Moderately complex in finance jargon and perhaps not easily understood by a layperson, he does communicate his thoughts but the reader will get confused as Kaufman repeats himself continuously, perhaps too frequently. An interesting book, required for my class but if you have an option to read other books or others' opinions I would certainly choose those first.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Larson on May 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to know about 1970-1980s, this book is for you. If you want to know about today, it is not.
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