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Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Century 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471449737
ISBN-10: 0471449733
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Editorial Reviews


“This book is an intellectual tour de force.” (GetAbstract.com)

“…a very level-headed book for adventurous readers.” (Accounting Technician, May 2004)

This worthwhile, well-organized book presents insights into the current U.S. economy by comparing contemporary economic events with historical ones, especially such systems as Japan's in the 1990s and the United States in the 1930s. Find out why high-spending, high-borrowing consumerism leveraged the U.S. economy and also what the "soft depression" means for investors. (Best Business Books 2003, Library Journal, March 15, 2004)

"...The authors...come up with some disturbing conclusions..." (The Journal, Newcastle, 5 February 2004)

"...every serious investor should read this book..." (www.iii.co.uk (AMPLE), 6 January 2004)

"...the book has rattled me enough to prompt further inquiry." (The Telegraph, 13 December 2004)

From the Inside Flap

Is the U.S. economy turning Japanese?

According to maverick investment writers Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin, the country’s current economic picture mirrors that of Japan’s decade-old "soft depression"–caused by an aging population and a structural reaction to its record-breaking financial boom.

As the U.S. downturn drags on, investors want to know what’s behind it all, what’s in store, and what they can do to safeguard their investments. Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Century helps you chart your own financial destiny in today’s precarious investing climate. Irreverent and eye-opening, this "big picture" investment book starts with a simple premise: history shows us that investing has less to do with raw economic data and new statistics–the domain of most other investment books–and more to do with old rules, metaphors, and experience.

Putting this unique metaphorical focus (and its underlying principles) into action, Financial Reckoning Day draws upon military and sociopolitical milestones to highlight the surges and slides of history. Going a step further, the authors emphasize the powerful relevance of these events to today’s economic uncertainties.

Brimming with down-to-earth wisdom and take-it-to-heart lessons, Financial Reckoning Day tells you:

  • Why the "Information Age" stock boom went bust, with sobering insights into such companies as Amazon.com, Cisco Systems, and Global Crossing
  • Why high-spending, high-borrowing consumerism "leveraged" the U.S. economy and what you might expect from the "soft, slow depression" in the decade ahead
  • Why Japan’s "miracle economy" unexpectedly collapsed and why a decade of monetary stimulus has failed to revive it
  • How the Civil War–and the financing of wars in general–led to the creation of the central banking system
  • What the legacy of Fed chief Alan Greenspan "ought" to be
  • How the speculative mania for John Law’s Compagnie des Indes in the early eighteenth century presaged the dot.com stock craze
  • How the "Aging of the West" is more likely to affect stock prices in the years to come than fiscal policy

As it reveals the hazards of democratic consumer capitalism and the financial follies of history, Financial Reckoning Day warns that depressions are not necessarily a thing of the past. And that’s why it’s so vital to have an essential, wide-angle resource like this on hand . . . to get you through the current crunch–and put profits back in your portfolio.


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Product Details

  • Series: Agora Series
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471449733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471449737
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David R. Harper on October 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I think Bonner and Wiggin artfully present an alarming and important idea: that American consumer capitalism may doom the stock market and the economy. However, in making their case, they favor metaphors and provocation over tightly organized logic. The authors are truly right to call their approach "literary and historical," for many of the book's facts and hard data are attached to historical stories and anecdotes. The first two-thirds of the book is an epic-and sometimes meandering-sweep of selected economic themes and characters. Against broad themes, the writing is often ponderous but sometimes it is simply brilliant and poetical. The tone was a bit overwrought and patronizing for my taste. I winced a few times when, writing from their offices in Paris, they compare America to Rome before the fall, seeming to bask in their self-described spectator role, and taking glee in the perceived plight of the average investor, "bless their greedy little hearts."
I found the first three chapters hard trudging. Chapter One rehashes the bursting of the internet bubble and blames the Internet for amplifying the hasty judgments of the mob. Chapter Two aims to show us that every binge must be followed by a hangover, economically speaking. To prove this, they indulge in many, many military metaphors, like the Japanese "expansion" into Pearl Harbor that led to the hangover at Midway. I'm not much for military history so this was of passing interest to me, but I was interested in the introduction of Hyman Minsky and his theory that "stability [itself] is destabilizing." The idea is that when everything is going well economically, the banks and other "merchants of debt" will inevitably market their liabilities and send the economy into a vicious cycle of credit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The reviews the book got were mixed. I think one of the important gripes was that the book doesn't offer advice on what to do going forward like the title implies. It appears that gold may be a worthwhile investment, but the authors make it clear throughout the book that wealth just doesn't come out of thin air and that the US has been heading in a bad direction for a long time. Stocks, they say, are still overpriced and the market will (as always) return to the mean.
One of the things the authors illustrate is a chart showing the cycle of bear and bull markets, and how they tend to last 15-18 yrs. If that trend holds, then we've got another decade or so before we see another bull market. Another point they make that I found interesting is that a person's maximum salary occurs at an average age of 46. Up to that point, those people are buying stocks and consumer goods, pushing the stock market up. After age 46, those people begin to start selling stocks more than buying them. Plus, they begin to make fewer and fewer purchases. Where this comes into play is with the Baby Boomers. The beginning of the BB age was mid-1950's. When you add 46, you get roughly year 2000. That's when our market peaked. The implication is that our aging population will no longer be contributing to the stock market's push upward, just the opposite. And when you consider that there are 70-80 million BB, then that's an incredible force to be reckoned with.
While I was disappointed in the lack of direction the book offers, it was a worthwhile read. The authors did a good job researching the material, and the chapters were easy enough to read once each night. The book is mostly a historical account of monetary systems and it isn't until the last few chapters that the here-and-now stuff is discussed.
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By A Customer on October 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a worthwhile read. The authors portray the USA in a worrisome light using a lot of insight and comparisons of the present with historical economic events, some quite famous and interesting in their own right. However, they do not quite get the connection between massive trade deficits/surpluses and their multiplier effects on banking systems, leading to disastrous bubbles. They seem to feel it is substantially all monetarist activity at the FED, which certainly is a major contributing factor to our present bubble. This book should be read in conjunction with The Dollar Crisis by Richard Duncan in order to understand the cental bank role and get the true macro picture of excessive liquidity and why we are in a liquidity trap.
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By A Customer on January 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
May be I am reading too much into this gloom and doom, being an a Finance Major from one of the top Finance Business Schools in the USA. After graduating about 10 years ago I started my research on the following premise that, "How Long Can a Nation Continue to Live on Debt", and over the years read books titled:
- "Creating an Interest and Inflation-free Economy, that is good for ordinary citizens and the environment" by Margritte Kennedy, Professor of Urban Planning at University of Hanover, Germany
- "The Problem with Interest", by Tarek El-Diwany, Kreatoc, 2003
- "Islam and The Economic Challenge", by Dr. Umer Chapra, Former Chief Economist as Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), The Islamic Foundation, UK 1995
- The Dollar Crisis, Richard Duncan, World Bank Consultant, John Wiley, 2003
- The Greatest Depression in the History of US & UK, Daniel Arnold
- Dangerous Market - Managing in a Financial Crisis, McKinsey Consultants, John Wiley, 2003
- Global Finance at Risk, Professors from the New School, 2001
- Capital Flows and Crises, by Dr. Barry Eichengreen, UC Berkeley, 2003
- The Coming Crash in the Housing Market, John Talbott, UCLA Research Scholar
- and lastly, the "Financial Reckoning Day" caps all the above research, and exposes this fake projection of economic growth
All these books allude to the same thing. This Dollar-driven credit/liquidity creation is losing steam as an engine of growth, and causing the de-leveraging of American. There is only so much that lowering of interest rates can do to boost the economy. Combine this with the demographic bomb, and we have a disaster at our hand which will unfold in the next couple of years.
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