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When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence Hardcover – June 25, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Well-written, thoughtful and highly convincing. . . . [King's] clear-eyed assessment of the problems ahead makes the book essential reading."—The Economist
(The Economist 2013-05-11)

"For many, the financial crisis is a temporary interruption in the rise of western prosperity that is due to easily remedied policy mistakes. The Keynesians believe this, as do anti-Keynesians on the free-market right. King argues, instead, that the future is not what it used to be. We have made promises to ourselves we cannot afford to keep. The argument is important, even if, like me, you are not persuaded." —Martin Wolf, Financial Times.
  (Martin Wolf Financial Times 2013-06-29)

"A 'powerful' and 'convincing' book. Overall, as Charles Moore notes in The Daily Telegraph, 'it’s alarmingly difficult to disagree' with this book."—Matthew Partridge, Money Week. (Matthew Partridge Money Week 2013-06-28)

"The book is jammed full of history [...] and is highly readable - being rich in the economic history that he argues was lacking in pre-crisis economic analysis. It is accompanied by some wonderful anecdotes and provides a good mix of economics and politics in addition to its historical detail."—George Buckley, Financial World
(George Buckley Financial World 2013-07-11)

“Stephen King, chief economist at HSBC, has just published an interesting and well-written book When the Money Runs Out.”—Paul Ormerod, City AM

(Paul Ormerod City am 2013-07-03)

“In this book, HSBC’s chief economist describes a real-life economic horror story, picking over the bones of the global financial crisis with the professional detachment of a forensic scientist examining the scene of a crime. The conclusions are clear and compelling. By the end, we know whodunit, how it was done and why, without resort to economic jargon – there are few acronyms, no equations and no charts. Instead we are offered policy prescriptions that ring true – uncomfortably so . . . The book should appeal to a wider audience than economists. The author is a newspaper columnist as well as a professional economist, and it shows in the crisp and easy style of his prose. I recommend it heartily.”—Erik Britton, Management Today
(Erik Britton Management Today 2013-09-01)

“The author has tightly reasoned arguments. . . and suggestions for the steps that should be taken to ensure economic stability for future generations.”Library Journal
(Library Journal)

“[King] is dabbling in the financial equivalent of the horror genre. Perhaps even scarier, his is the stuff of nonfiction.”—Michael J. Casey, The Wall Street Journal
(Michael J. Casey The Wall Street Journal)

“A welcome reminder of the role [literature] has played in our lives, and of its indubitable destiny to continue to do so.” —Jon Morris, PopMatters
(Jon Morris PopMatters)

When the Money Runs Out sets out well the problems facing advanced economies.” —David Smith, The Sunday Times
(David Smith The Sunday Times 2013-12-01)

“A thoughtful and convincing assessment of what happens when the rich world becomes over-accustomed to rising standards of living but cannot afford the benefits its governments have promised, by the chief-economist at HSBC. Serious scaremongering; worthy of Stephen King’s horror-writing namesake.”—The Economist, (named a 2013 Book of the Year) (The Economist 2013-12-07)

Book Description

An eminent economist warns that Western nations’ economic expectations for the future are way out of sync with the realities of economic stagnation, and stringent steps will be required to avoid massive political and economic upheaval.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300190522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300190526
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAME on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The baby boomer generation has enjoyed extraordinary increases in living standards. Over the last decade, however, per capita incomes have risen little and the West is in danger of entering its second 'lost decade,' no longer able to view recessions and stagnation as annoying interruptions but rather a way of life. Wages are being squeezed by competition from emerging superpowers and their demand for a big share of scare resources is also forcing us to pay more for food and energy. In the 1990s it looked as though new technology would bring continued economic expansion, but that bubble burst in 2000. Western policy-makers than cut taxes, dropped interest rates, and boosted public spending - creating the subprime crisis in 2007 and too much money pouring into housing and financial services instead of productive investment. Growth rates of old are now a distant memory, and economic activity is between 7 - 15% lower than forecast before the 'Great Recession.' Meanwhile, protagonists on both sides of the 'stimulus vs. austerity' debate still believe that appropriate macroeconomic policies will deliver a return to the growth rates of old.

But what if both sides are wrong, suffering from 'optimism bias?' Many of the factors behind high growth rates in the 20th-century's second half cannot be repeated - substantial increases in consumer credit, globalization (before Asian nations turned trade surpluses into deficits), increased inclusion of women in the workforce, increased levels of education. The U.S. faces headwinds from globalization, increasing inequality, increasing energy and environmental costs, and the overhang of consumer and government debt, as do other Western nations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stephen King convincingly demonstrates that the once successful economies can suddenly and unexpectedly decelerate and then decline. The financial, political, and social ramifications of this reversal of fortune can be profound. Think for example about Argentina and Japan (pp. 13-26; 39; 135; 161). What has been observed in these two countries for decades could be a foreboding of what could happen in much of the Western industrialized world.

In the West, persistent progress is most often perceived as a given. This West's economic tenet was best reflected in the beliefs of persistent increases in asset prices relative to the size of economies before 2007-2008. These beliefs went hand in hand with substantial increases in debt during this period (pp. 62-63; 66-67; 130-131; 134-135; 139). However, many of the factors behind the continuous increase in Western living standards in the second half of the 20th century seem to be one-offs. Think for example about healthcare, social security systems, world trade, financial innovation, quality of education, the further increase in women's labor participation, or the sharp decline in back-breaking housework (pp. 11-13).

Growth in most of the Western industrialized world has been anemic since the beginning of the 21st century. Mr. King identifies four key drivers behind this underwhelming performance:

1) The negative effects of the success of emerging nations on Western growth;
2) The over-investment in the U.S. housing market in the 2000s after the collapse of the 1990s technological revolution in 2000;
3) The financial crisis of 2007-2008;
4) The arrogance of Western policy-makers who thought after the last-named crisis that they were smarter than their Japanese counterparts.
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When the Money Runs Out (2013) by Stephen D. King looks at the dull horror of possible lower growth rates and the implications for the West. This Stephen King is the Group Chief Economist at HSBC but he has written a book that is really scary. The book looks at how the recovery from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has been slow enough to suggest that developed world growth rates are going to be substantially lower than those of the period between 1945 and 2000. He argues that this will lead to a crisis of sovereign insolvency as entitlement spending will not be affordable and that the financial and monetary games that are being played are starting to hurt more than help.
King first looks at how Progress has been taken for Granted and in particular how the very high growth rates for the three decades following the Second World War may have been exception. The period 1945-1975 had the rebuilding of countries that were previously economically strong in Europe and Japan, the arrival of a plethora of new technologies in nuclear power, jet engines, containerisation, computers and a big expansion of the work force due to women entering the formal workforce.
The book then describes the pain of stagnation and looks at Japan since 1990 and Argentina and how everyone in the west believes they should be better off than previous generations and how social security spending has massively increased. In the UK in 1950 it was 4% of GDP but today it is 14% of a much larger GDP. Essentially social spending could easily increase for many years as growth allowed people to get richer and to have more taken by the government. However, with lower growth incomes are growing more slowly than social spending.
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