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Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 31, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2011
 
“A fascinating and deeply disturbing tale of hypocrisy, corruption, and insatiable greed. But more than that, it’s a much-needed reminder of just how we got into the mess we’re in—a reminder that is greatly needed when we are still being told that greed is good.”
            -Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, The New York Review of Books
 
“Compelling . . . Important . . . Ambitious in its scope and frequently persuasive in its arguments, Age of Greed abounds with powerful men, ugly fights, infamous scandals, twists and turns, and, true to the book’s title, lots of shameless cupidity.”
            -David Greenberg, The Washington Post
 
“The timing could not be better for a book like Age of Greed . . . A solid review of half a century of economic history . . . A commendable compendium.”
            -Adam Lashinsky, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Excellent . . . Straightforward . . . We owe Madrick thanks for what he has done.”
            -Richard Parker, The American Prospect
 
“A compelling and worthy read. Madrick is an able journalist; an excellent and cogent storyteller in a field that often defies the straightforward plot or easy explanation—economics.”
            -Michael Winship, Salon.com
 
“Richly detailed and often riveting . . . Clear and compelling . . . A must-read.”
            -Glenn C. Altschuler, The Huffington Post
 
“Bold . . . Readers will find worthwhile stories in these pages.”
            -Sebastian Mallaby, The New York Times Book Review
 
“If you are going to read one book on the financial crisis, this might well be the one to choose.”   
            -Tom Streithorst, Prospect
 
“Madrick pulls no punches . . . Readers who want to understand where we are, how we got here, and some possible outcomes will repay their investment in reading time if they pick up this new volume.”
            -(Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star
 
“Madrick’s explanation of how greed arose throughout American society contains large dollops of originality . . . Age of Greed is lucid and compelling because of its character-driven nature.”
            -Steve Weinberg, Dallas Morning News
 
“Meticulous . . . Madrick makes a good case—and financial news junkies will savor it.”
            -Carl Hartman, Boulder Daily Camera
 
“Persuasive . . . Vivid . . . As a comprehensive survey of the way institutions work together to create wealth for a few individuals and destroy it for a mass of others, Age of Greed deserves attention.”
            -Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
 
 “Jeff Madrick has written one of those rare, wonderful books that allow us to understand a huge and important historical development that we may not have realized was a coherent and coordinated series of events. Madrick’s account of Alan Greenspan’s ideologically-driven mistakes alone is worth the price of admission, but it is but one course in a feast of wonderful reporting and writing. If you want to know what has happened to your country, read this book.”
            -Robert G. Kaiser, author of So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government
 
“Jeff Madrick’s devastating biography of greed is rife with carefully documented cautionary tales of the rich, greedy and unregulated, which collectively constitute the definitive answer to Milton Friedmanesque laissez faire economics.”
            -Victor Navasky, author of Kennedy Justice
 
“Honore de Balzac wrote long ago that behind every great fortune lies a great crime.  Now in Jeff Madrick’s important new book, Age of Greed, we are introduced to some of the best and brightest moneychangers in the murky world of high finance.”
-Gay Talese, author of A Writer's Life
 
“Who’s responsible for the laying waste of our economy—making the rich far richer and everyone else economically insecure? Madrick does more than name names. He tells us who did what and how they did it—the ideologues, demagogues, corporate titans, and crooks. A wonderfully insightful but deeply troubling account of the movers and shakers who toppled America.”
-Robert B. Reich, author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future
 
“The economic disaster of 2008 was not an accident of God but a man-made event. In writing about the financiers, bankers, brokers, free-market philosophers, hedge fund managers and government officials who together engineered the fundamental and profound, almost revolutionary shift in the American economy that culminated in the events of 2008, Jeff Madrick provides his readers with a new and startling account of recent economic history. The individual chapters are riveting but the genius of this book is that Madrick's whole is even greater than the sum of its manificent parts. This is a book that bears reading by everyone with an interest in the American economy and the American future.”
-David Nasaw, author of The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
 
“Ideas and policies, like people, have parents and grandparents and in Age of Greed we learn of the men (and they are all men) whose ideas and actions begat three decades with almost no income growth for the vast majority, mountains of debt and fabulous riches for themselves and their peers. Jeff Madrick provides a powerful story of the damage done to our nation by hubris, delusions and lust for money.”
-David Cay Johnston, author of Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)
 
“An excellent, thought-provoking book.”
            -Booklist

About the Author

Jeff Madrick is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, a former economics columnist for The New York Times, and editor of Challenge magazine. He is an adjunct professor of humanities at The Cooper Union, and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School. His previous books include The End of Affluence and Taking America, and he has written for The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Institutional Investor, The Nation, and The American Prospect. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400041716
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400041718
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Americans in 2011 have a lot to be unhappy about: high unemployment, entire neighborhoods of foreclosed houses, decimated retirement accounts and portfolios, and so on for far too many depressing statistics. Since the Crisis of 2007-08 we've grown accustomed to talking heads wisely explaining that this is part of a cycle of boom and bust that is unavoidable. Really? Jeff Madrick's well researched and engaging history of the last 40 years or so has a very different view.

Beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s financiers began to pressure the US government to ease or eliminate many of the provisions to regulate the financial markets that had been put into place during the New Deal. Their efforts began to bear fruit in the 1970s, when both Republican and Democratic Administrations and Congresses, heavily influenced by advice from wealthy bankers and brokers, agreed to dismantle most of the regulatory structure. This deregulatory process gained strength in the 1980s and 1990s, again at the hands of both parties, and finally bore fruit in the 2000s when the markets collapsed and came close to dragging the entire world into another Great Depression. Like most people, I remember those frightening days all too well, but I didn't fully understand what was going on and I certainly didn't know what to expect in the future.

Jeff Madrick has done an excellent job of chronicling the financial decisions and decision makers of the last four decades. He provides many short but thorough biographies of the principal actors, some well known or infamous like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken, others less public but still important like Lewis Uhler and Walter Wriston.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present by Jeff Madrick

"Age of Greed..." is the historical development of greed over the past forty years. Jeff Madrick takes the reader through a biographical ride of the main players involved in the economic decline of America. This 480-page book is composed of the following chapters: 1. Walter Wriston Regulatory Revolt, 2. Milton Friedman Proselytizer, 3. Richard Nixon and Arthur Burns, 4. Joe Flom The Hostile Takeover and Its Consequences, 5. Ivan Boesky Wanting It All, 6. Walter Wriston II Bailing Out Citibank, 7. Ronald Reagan The Making of an Idealogy, 8. Ted Turner, Sam Walton, and Steve Ross Size Becomes Strategy, 9. Jimmy Carter Capitulation, 10. Howard Jarvis and Jack Kemp Tapping the Anger, 11. Paul Volcker, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan Revolution Completed, 12. Tom Peters and Jack Welch Promises Broken, 13. Michael Milken "The Magnificent", 14. Alan Greenspan Ideologue, 15. George Soros and John Meriwether Fabulous Wealth and Controversial Power, 16. Sandy Weill King of the World, 17. Jack Grubman, Frank Quattrone, Ken Lay, and Sandy Weill Decade of Deceit, 18. Angelo Mozilo The American Tragedy, and 19. Jimmy Cayne, Richard Fuld, Stan O'Neil, and Chuck Prince Collapse.

Positives:
1. Well-written and insightful historical account of the events.
2. Well-researched book that is accessible to the masses.
3. Even-handed. An equal opportunity critic.
4. Doesn't shy away from placing blame.
5. Does a real good job of capturing the most important events that transpired in a very straight-forward manner.
6. A good review on economic history over the past four decades. I particularly enjoyed presidential references.
7. A lot of great insights.
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Format: Hardcover
*****
"Who's responsible for the laying waste of our economy, making the rich far richer and everyone else economically insecure? Madrick ...tells us who did what and how they did it--the ideologues, demagogues, corporate titans, and crooks. A wonderfully insightful but deeply troubling account of the movers and shakers who toppled America." -- Robert B. Reich,

The great financial crisis of 2008 had consequences so dreadful that still paralyzes our economy. It is sometimes portrayed as a 100 year economic tsunami, an erupting event that nobody could have prevented or even predicted. Intense economic inequity and instability became the character of our age. Jeff Madrick, director of policy research at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, eloquently tells us about the tragic story with an unerring command of expertise. His vivid historical version of America's greed bred economic ills, advancing quitely over the last four decades, and the agents most responsible for them may shock you. Deeply disturbing, is the suggestion not just that we are witnessing a repeating cycle, but that the busts keep getting bigger. According to Madrick, it was just the most recent downpayment for a recurrent pattern of financial outwit, taxpayer bailout, and Wall Street subsequent lack of commitment to clean their own mess.

He describes, the accumulation and eruption of America's slow receding economic crisis, in an engaging though tragic story. Thus, he relates that in 1991, when the outcome of vast, loan-financed commercial real estate over-development in the 1980's came home to settle, helping to trigger the collapse of the 'junk-bond' market and putting Citibank, and the other big banks to great risk.
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