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ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism Paperback – October 11, 2011
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“The helplessness you feel, in the face of the demonic complexity of modern finance . . .set it aside, and pick up Yves Smith book ECONned. Indignation and clarity and omnivorous knowledge come together in her writing, to explain how we, the taxpayers, are being meticulously fleeced. Never go into an argument about the financial crisis unarmed again.” ―Stephen Metcalf, Slate Columnist
“In ECONned, Smith blows the top wide open on the role that economists and policy makers had in enabling Wall Street greed and misdeeds. This fascinating book reads like a detective story uncovering the roots of our disastrous financial philosophy - the book must be read by everyone from Wall Street to Washington.” ―Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics at New York University and founder of RGE Monitor
“Yves Smith has written a wonderful book which combines first hand knowledge of financial markets with a devastating attack on the scientific pretensions of economics. It is required reading by all those who want to dig below the surface of the worst economic collapse since the war to the intellectual and regulatory rottenness underlying it.” ―Lord Skidelsky, author of Keynes: The Return of the Master
“This book is a fascinating and insightful reminder that economics is like any other powerful tool. It can be used to help understand the world and solve important problems - or to rationalize ridiculous behavior and overwhelm common sense. Smith provides a brilliantly researched tour of good ideas gone bad.” ―Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science
“Lost your job, lost your life savings, the country's going down the proverbial - want to know who did it? Yves Smith tells the tale of how bad economics created the foundations for the 'Madoff economy'. After you read the book, just collect your pitchforks and get ready to march on the University of Chicago or Wall Street or both! A refreshingly sane and honest analysis.” ―Satyajit Das, author of Traders, Guns & Money: Knowns & Unknowns in the Wonderful World of Derivatives
“If you only read one book on the global financial crisis, it should be Econned by "Yves Smith", an entertaining, thorough and damning indictment of the way that Western economists, bankers and politicians together messed up - and are still messing up - the global financial and economic system.” ―Kevin Rafferty, South China Morning Post
“ECONned by Yves Smith has three great merits: what it says is largely accurate, largely interesting, and largely new.” ―Central Banking Journal
“Econned is one of the most important books on the financial crisis. Yves Smith understands both the Street and finance theory in a way that few writers do. Her argument that short sellers provided critical fuel for subprime lending flips The Big Short's conventional wisdom on its head and belies Bernanke's arguments that the housing bubble was the result primarily of a global supply glut. There is no other book with an appendix (Appendix II, no less!) that is a must-read for understanding the financial crisis.” ―Adam J. Levitin, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
About the Author
Yves Smith is creator of the influential blog, Naked Capitalism, a top ranked economics and finance blog with over 250,000 unique visitors each month. Smith has been working in and around the financial services industry since 1980 as an investment banker, management consultant, and corporate finance advisor. Smith has appeared, on CNBC, CNN, and FOX Business News, and has written over 40 articles in venues such as The New York Times, Slate, and the Christian Science Monitor. She lives in Manhattan.
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Smith goes well beyond tired political tropes and rhetorical namecalling to explain exactly how a lack of proper banking regulation, an overabundance of shortsighted profiteers, an overly self-satisfied attitude among economists, and the beguilingly complicated nature of investment markets came together to erase trillions of dollars of American wealth. I can't argue that this is a great introductory tome on the subject, because you need to be prepared to run with Yves from page one. That being said, it is clearly the best book I've read on the subject.
Undoubtedly, there are those that will claim ECONned is nothing more than liberal propaganda. I'd like to challenge that argument now. There is a clear line between rhetoric and solid, logical argument. Smith isn't making an argument that will make conservatives happy, but that doesn't seem to be the intention of the book and certainly doesn't justify cheapening the completeness of her work as being 'propaganda'. At no point during the read did this feel like a politically inspired text. Instead, the read is as close to scholarly detail as can be expected from a non-textbook/non-professional journal source.
She does a good job of describing different financial instruments in understandable terms.
The author gives examples of why self-regulating on Wall Street, especially with derivatives, is a proposition that doesn't and why that won't change.
She offers up some interesting solutions to guard against another meltdown.
This is a good book, a bit outdated, but worth the read anyway.