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Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 18, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Between 1996-2006, Americans used over $2 trillion in home equity (HELOC) to pay for home improvements, cars, medical bills, etc., largely because real income had been stagnant since the early 1990s. Economic recovery requires that we repay the remainder of these amounts, overcome stock market losses (10% between 2000-2009), the loss of some 10 million jobs, and reductions in credit card balances, and find an equivalent amount to the former home-equity sourced financing ($975 billion in 2006 alone - about 7% of GDP) to finance another consumer-driven GDP upturn - without the prior boom in housing and commercial building. Stiglitz also points out that the Great Depression coincided with the decline of U.S. agriculture (crop prices were falling before the 1929 crash), and economic growth resumed only after the New Deal and WWII. Similarly, today's recovery from the Great Recession is also hampered by the concomitant shift from manufacturing to services, continued automation and globalization, taxes that have become less progressive (shifting money from those who would spend to those who haven't), and new accounting regulations that discourage mortgage renegotiation.
Stiglitz is particularly critical of the U.S.Read more ›
"Freefall" doesn't give us all the answers, and again I admit that I still have questions, but for a basic understanding of the markets as they played out in the past couple of years and how deregulation merely increased the problems for most of Main sreet this is a very good place to start. Some critics have already panned this book as a call to socialism, but those critics obviously lack even a basic understanding of what socialism really is and are only looking for a buzz word to sustain the belief that a totally "Free Market" system is the only good thing, when in fact it increases the chances of boom and bust cycles coming even closer together in the future. To begin, modest regulations are all that might be needed, and if bankers once again act trustworthy and preform ethically it could be enough. If greed continues unabated, then the middle class will disappear and only the wealthiest will profit.
Many of the 1-star reviews harp on about Mr Stiglitz's wanting to give the government more power when the Fed and others were culpable in the Great Recession. At best that interpretation does a disservice to what Mr Stiglitz advocates. Yes, he calls for a balanced role for government involvement to keep markets in line (as, he argues, they have clearly demonstrated they cannot do it themselves), but he also takes regulators and the Fed to the mat for their poor oversight, and the Obama administration for poor choices of remedy (basically just continuing the failed policies of GW Bush). Mr Stiglitz goes further, though, in calling for a restructuring of the financial sector - from the ashes, a phoenix - saying that today's incentives produce bad behavior, and need to be rethought with "right" outcomes in mind. It's an admirable goal, but where the political will for this comes from is anybody's guess. If Obama couldn't part ways with GW Bush on this matter, how will he restructure finance? One reviewer laments the lack of moral outrage expressed by the author - did he read the book? It's full of moral outrage and condemnation of a system which has failed everyone except the heads of the financial sector.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great writing, good economics, questionable method. Stigluz goes looking for macro explanation and, what a surprise, finds them. But he misses some important details.Published 1 month ago by musicnerd
Free fall gives an indepth insight into the risk built up and complacency of the Mandarins of finance who punished the world for their sins !!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I learned a lot from this book. It's very well written and provides good background for those unfamiliar with some financial terms and organizations.Published 6 months ago by Aaric
Good explanation of 2008 crash but would have appreciated greater emphasis on systemic causes and unorthodox solutions including alternate currencies that could protect from future... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Bruce Hector M.D.
The book is fantastic. It gives a deep insight of the American economy, and blows the exaggeration bubble that has been dispersed all over the world about it.Published 9 months ago by Mohammad