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ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism Hardcover – March 2, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230620515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230620513
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've written quite a bit about the financial crisis, and God knows I've read nearly every book on the subject, and I have no hesitation in saying that if there is one book that gets it whole, and gets it right, and is THE book for the intelligent, thoughtful reader to turn to, it is ECONNED. This is not an anecdotal recitation of deal gossip (like, for example, Sorkin's book); it's not "source-based" journalism reflective of the way certain participants in the dire events that unfolded in 2007-2009 wish themselves to be seen. It lays out, in what is easily as clear, as direct, as smart and with as much force of fact as any financial writing today how exactly the fun and games that have nearly wrecked our economy and the lives of so many of us went down. Yves Smith is, unlike so many other writers feeding off the crisis, writing about it from the inside: with an unfailing grasp of where the details (where the devil lurks) fit into the larger pattern of financial perfidy and destruction, in this Doomsday Machine that Wall Street put together. The intelligent reader will understand that if you want to know why you're suffering from acute ptomaine, you have to understand what went into the sausage you got it from. And then you have to be made to see plain the kind of restaurant or market that serves up this toxic offal. And then the regulatory failures that allow such places to be licensed. We have undergone one of the great crises in this nation's history. It needs to be seen plain and understood. Deadline-driven blahblahblah won't get the job done. But ECONNED does. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been a huge fan of author Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism blog for years now, and this book is a major triumph, putting in one place and fully developing the major themes that Smith has explored on her blog over the course of the recent financial crisis. While this might appear to be well-plowed territory, Smith tells it as an economics story that is really a story of a failed democracy. The linchpin of her work is the ascendant power of Wall Street over Main Street during the Greenspan era and now the Bernanke era. Complicit with politicians, financial regulators, and the revolving door of government service, the big Wall Street firms and banks have, according to Smith, seized the political process to serve their narrow, financial interests instead of those interests that serve a well-functioning polity. However, despite the seemingly inflammatory thesis, this book is no rant. Smith, an industry insider, is one of the smartest and expert observers of the flawed process that we now have, and the book is loaded with incisive explanations that pull it all together for the average reader in clear and at times thrilling language. In the broadest sense, this is a moral tract as much as an economics and political one. The moral outrage, while controlled and polite, is palpable on every page. In essence, this is a deeply informed book that does what economics and political tracts almost never do: it tugs at the heart as well as at the mind.
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Format: Hardcover
I was skeptical that we needed another book on the current financial crisis. But Econned provides a different and invaluable take on the issues. The book shows how corporate and governmental misunderstanding -- coupled with misuse of free market ideology -- enabled predatory practices in the financial services industry, and how current systems can't correct the problems. The book held my interest more than most economics and business books with its anecdotes, historic perspective, and Smith's engaging (sometimes irreverent) writing style.

While Econned covers technical points on economics and financial instruments, it's jargon-free enough that I can share this one with my non-business friends. And I plan to share it, since the explanations enable the author to build the case by Chapter 9 of how one company in particular structured operations to maximize its own profits while devastating major economic sectors. The book achieves a hat-trick of sorts: cogently explaining how and why the current policies are flawed, naming names and revealing exactly how some players took advantage of the flaws, and showing how current reform proposals need to be changed to fix the problem.
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Format: Hardcover
There are many good reviews of the book published already and I don't want to repeat them. But I think there is one aspect of the book that was not well covered in the published reviews and which I think is tremendously important and makes the book a class of its own: the use of neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy. I hope that the term "econned" will became a new word in English language.

Neoclassical economics has become the modern religion with its own priests, sacred texts and a scheme of salvation. It was a successful attempt to legitimize the unlimited rule of financial oligarchy by using quasi-mathematical, oversimplified and detached for reality models. The net result is a new brand of theology, which proved to be pretty powerful in influencing people and capturing governments("cognitive regulatory capture"). Like Marxism, neoclassical economics is a triumph of ideology over science. It was much more profitable though: those who were the most successful in driving this Trojan horse into the gates were remunerated on the level of Wall Street traders.

Economics is essentially a political science. And politics is about perception. Neo-classical economics is all about manipulating the perception in such a way as to untie hands of banking elite to plunder the country (and get some cramps from the table for themselves). Yves contributed to our understanding how "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, economics professors from Chicago, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and some other places warmed by flow of money from banks for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping Wall Street to plunder the country. The rhetorical question that a special counsel to the U.S.
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