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Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis (Agora Series) Hardcover – November 11, 2005
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Many Americans have resisted the notion that their country is an imperial power. The idea seems to contradict the values of the Republic and its Founding Fathers. But in Empire of Debt, prominent financial analysts Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin argue passionately that not only is the United States an empire, but it is also one whose end is coming soon. Bonner and Wiggin are the brains behind www.dailyreckoning.com, an iconoclastic and irreverent market advisory service that has long raised concerns about American indebtedness and warned of a looming dollar crisis. In Empire of Debt, a sequel to their earlier doom-and-gloom book Financial Reckoning Day, they elaborate on their argument that the U.S. economy is about to implode.
Bonner and Wiggin enumerate a long list of chronic ailments that imperil the American financial system--a massive trade deficit, soaring personal and government debt, a housing bubble, runaway military expenditures. These problems "hardly disturb the sleep of the imperial race," the authors write. "[But] all empires must pass away." Bonner and Wiggin argue that American imperial delusions are similar to the fantasies that fueled the dot-com market mania. They recommend readers buy gold as insurance in the event of a financial crisis. Empire of Debt flounders when discussing how America indebted itself; the authors blame the Federal Reserve Board's low interest rates but gloss over the fact that rates were slashed because the U.S. teetered on the brink of deflation in 2002 and 2003 (a topic they give more attention to in Financial Reckoning Day). As hardcore free-marketeers, Bonner and Wiggin also seem to long for the pre-welfare days of the 1920s but forget how that period's policies led to the Great Depression. That said, Empire of Debt contains many revelations that will open eyes. --Alex Roslin
“The doom mongering is leavened with some waspishly witty writing” (Daily Telegraph, 6th December 2005)
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Like cold water thrown on someone sleeping, this book reveals the real reasons behind our country's indebtedness to China and others, and the dangers this debt presents to personal financial planning. It appalls me that our politicians prefer to debate what are primarily personal issues like abortion and gay marriage, instead of truly tending the core issues of government, more important perhaps evan than global warming: deficit spending, underfunded Social Security, and unfunded Medicare.
Even more discomfiting is learning that the formulae for the very economic statistics we read every day have been so altered that they are now essentially meaningless. The Gross Domestic Product, for example, now contains all mortgage payments (not, to my mind, a true "product") simply because the enormity of these monies hugely inflates the otherwise limp GDP.
How does this impact you? It's hard to underestimate it. A must read!
And I still have a ways to go before I have finished it. However, I seem to have entered the latter part of the book which does indeed focus on economics, and I believe I have a pretty good idea what the point is, a philosophy I am pretty much in agreement with, so I figured I'd just comment on the empire part.
Much of the book is devoted to criticizing the folly of America's aggressive military intervention, with a lengthy discussion of our involvement in the first world war and the Vietnam war.
However, they clearly disapprove of essentially ALL military intervention by the United States, including even the civil war and the second world war.
One reviewer suggested their view on the civil war indicated that they were comfortable with the slave economy of the south, which I think is way off the track. It seems clear to me that these guys just flat out believe that bloody warfare doesn't solve anything.
In that, it seems to me that their perspective, while it holds a lot of merit, is incomplete. And, I'm sure it is no accident that they chose to give detailed discussions on WW1 and Vietnam war rather than the Civil War and WW2, because the latter would be a lot harder to simply brush off as foolhardy military interventionism.
I am most intrigued by their view of WW1; unfortunately I don't know the history of that war very well, but I certainly don't get the impression that the history books provide any very coherent explanation as to what purpose we were serving by being involved in that.
Anyway, the bottom line is that the book contains an interesting look at empire-building in human history, and much of what they say rings true.
And the book is indeed a very witty and engaging piece of writing.
Most recent customer reviews
For example the part about English poor laws is inaccurate.Read more