- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 18, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014312448X
- ISBN-13: 978-0143124481
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 217 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead Paperback – December 18, 2013
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The Wall Street Journal:
"[Blinder] is a master storyteller... [After the Music Stopped] is one of the best books yet about the financial crisis."
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times:
"Highly readable... Mr. Blinder draws on the work of many... reporters in his account. But if large portions of After the Music Stopped feel familiar, the book nonetheless benefits from its wide-angle perspective, as well as from its vantage point in time, now that it's possible to assess the fallout of decisions that were being made on the run by White House and Treasury officials under extraordinary pressures. It also benefits from Mr. Blinder's clear-eyed prose and nimble gifts as an explainer — gifts that sometimes approach those of Bill Clinton, when it comes to making complicated economic issues and policies understandable to the lay reader. Direct and concise, Mr. Blinder tells it as he sees it."
"Blinder's book deserves its likely place near the top of reading lists about the crisis. It is the best comprehensive history of the episode... A riveting tale."
The New Republic:
"For a reader wondering how we got here, and why the people in charge have seemed, often, to be so chary of stringing up the culprits, or tearing down the system, Blinder's book - not least because his fair-minded approach and pragmatic mindset evokes that of America's current regulators - gives us an invaluable insight."
"What does all the knowledge mean to generalist readers? A lot, actually. Blinder is no defender of his economist colleagues or other former and current insiders who caused so much damage - or, at minimum, failed to see the collapse on the horizon. He writes clearly - as well as lots of journalists. That combination makes the book a worthy addition to the literature."
“If you want to get between the covers with your favorite econ nerd this season, I recommend Alan Blinder’s After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response and the Work Ahead. Written by the former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, this deserves a place among the top reads on the Great Panic and its aftermath.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"A prodigiously detailed yet generally accessible investigation of the roots of the meltdown, its multiple and continuing reverberations in the United States and globally, and the short-term fixes and long-term remedies required to treat, and then heal, the patient."
President William J. Clinton:
"If you want to understand every aspect of our economic crisis—how we got into it, how we escaped a depression, why we haven't fully recovered, and what we have to do now—read this book. It's a masterpiece—simple, straightforward and wise."
Paul A. Volcker:
"True to his scholarly roots and informed by his practical insights, Alan Blinder has produced in After the Music Stopped both a comprehensive and, mirabile dictu, engagingly readable analysis of the great financial crisis. Whether or not one agrees with every particular judgment, the force of the argument is clear: here we are, four years later, still short of reforms that are needed."
"Alan Blinder is one of the world's best informed and most balanced, sensible economists. His credentials include years as a senior adviser in the Clinton White House, then as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and as regular op-ed contributor to the Wall Street Journal. After the Music Stopped is the best account available of what really happened in the 2008 financial crisis, why and what it now means for the future."
Mohamed A. El-Erian:
"Of all the books that I have read on the topic—and I have read quite a few—After the Music Stopped provides the most authoritative account of the why, how and what of the global financial crisis. This highly readable analysis takes you brilliantly through the construction of America's fragile house of financial cards, its sudden and dramatic collapse and, as important, the difficult reconstruction and rehabilitation work that must still be done. Whether you are interested in current affairs or in history, read this book if you want an expert and well-written analysis of how economics and politics interacted to create one big mess, not just for America but also for the global economy."
About the Author
Alan S. Blinder, one of the world’s most trusted economists, is the Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network.
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As noted by many others, Blinder has an excellent writing style that is both informative and coherent. He explains the importance of the financial markets, comparing them to the circulatory system of the economic body: "and if blood stops flowing, well you don't want to think about it." Some have criticized Blinder's political orientation, and it is amply displayed: he twice mentions that President Bush "checked out" and Senator McConnell's statement that the single most important thing the Republicans sought to achieve was for President Obama to be a one term president. He is also overly critical of Secretary Paulson's proposed 3-page TARP bill, notwithstanding the excessive and endless political fighting over the 2,319 page Dodd-Frank Act. Blinder explains that the economic policy decisions that were made by the three principal players Paulson, Geithner and Bernacke were in many ways inextricably linked to politics, and thus it would be unreasonable to expect an assessment of this period to be devoid of politics. Blinder focuses on the economic implications, and largely praises the actions taken. In sum, this book is an excellent contribution to the analysis of the financial crisis.
IMHO, Blinder has also produced an interesting book that deserves wide readership. And for those of you considering "After the Music Stopped" for your book group, we have helpfully prepared the following questions, which will elicit discussion about subjects Blinder raises in FINANCE GOES MAD, the second section of this strong book. Our questions are:
o Blinder identifies seven economic and business forces as the primary causes of the Great Recession. These are: inflated asset prices, excessive leverage, lax financial regulation, disgraceful banking practices, unregulated securities and derivatives, abysmal performance by rating agencies, and perverse compensation systems. Which forces does Blinder consider the "main villains"? Why?
o In 2006-2007, the American residential housing bubble burst. What beliefs about housing created this bubble? How did the magic of leverage support these housing delusions?
o By definition, investors who underestimate the risk of a bond overestimate its value. How did this dynamic affect the value of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and other bonds before the Great Recession? What policy at Greenspan's Fed exacerbated conditions underlying mispricing during the bond bubble?
o In 2006, the five largest investment banks embraced a similar business model--that is, rely on short-term borrowing for funding while leveraging capital by 30-to-1 or more. At such businesses, what happens when the value of assets drops a mere 4 percent? Why?
o When the bubble for MBS burst, a much larger associated bubble--that for leveraged bets on MBS--also burst. What was the role of derivatives in this second and larger bubble? What is synthetic leverage?
o In 2005, subprime lending amounted to 20 percent of all new mortgages. And by 2007, more than half of all subprime mortgages were originated by brokers, not banks. What was the regulatory reaction to this change in the mortgage business? What was the justification for this reaction?
o What is a derivative? Do derivatives hedge or create risk? Explain.
o What is a credit default swap? Does a CDS hedge or create risk? In 2008, 80 percent of the CDS outstanding were "naked". What does this indicate about CDS usage?
o In the 2003-2007 period, the balance sheets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shrank slightly while the balance sheets of banks and investment banks were roughly doubling in size. In light of this fact, is it sensible to blame Fannie and Freddie for the collapse of mortgage market?
To meet demand, we may prepare discussion questions for the subjects Blinder raises in PICKING UP THE PIECES, THE ROAD TO REFORM, and LOOKING AHEAD, which are parts two, three, and four of "After the Music Stopped." But for those of you who cannot wait and want to know now, now I say, where Blinder stands on the management of the financial catastrophe, the regulatory response, and the winding down of the crisis, we will tell you that he thinks:
o Paulson, Bernanke, and Geithner did a very good job, all things considered.
o The Dodd-Frank Act is surprisingly strong; but regulatory reform can be no better than its rules, which are now being written in Washington.
o The Fed knows how to shrink its enormous balance sheet. But it will be tricky is to do so while unemployment remains high and economic growth is lackluster.
Blinder gets the final two observations:
o The phrase "job-killing government spending" became John Boehner's mantra. Never mind that it made no sense.
o It is a measure of the Obama administration ineptitude in communication that the public came to see Geithner, Summers, & Co. as tools of Wall Street while at the same time the bankers who were saved from oblivion came to hate the administration for scapegoating them. Acquiring one of these two images was excusable, maybe even unavoidable. Acquiring both at the same time amounted to gross political negligence.
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After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead