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The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America Hardcover – April 2, 2013
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Stockman, veteran of the Reagan White House and Wall Street, offers his self-described polemic, a wide-ranging indictment of the American government-economic complex; free markets and democracy have been under long-term attack, and the author explains why we have myriad problems, perhaps intractable. He indicates the book “contains much original interpretation of financial and public policy events and trends of the last century, even a revisionist framework.” Stockman concludes his lengthy controversial argument with: “the cure . . . is to return to sound money and fiscal rectitude and to correct the great error initiated during the New Deal . . . . In pursuing humanitarian purposes the state cannot and need not attempt to manage the business cycle or goose the free market with stimulants for more growth and jobs; nor can it afford the universal entitlements of social insurance. Its job is to be a trustee for citizens left behind, maintaining a sturdy, fair and efficient safety net.” This thought-provoking book will contribute to important debates on these issues. --Mary Whaley
David Weigel, Slate
Paul B. Farrell, Marketwatch
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The book starts off with details on how, in the past, the banks leveraged capital and how their methods of investment were contingent on a constant upward spiral of success. He goes on to talk about how the fed propped Wall Street up with hopes of creating wealth through the stock market and that he believes they have overstepped their bounds. He criticizes Greenspan for his fiscal policies and compares that bubble to the one we are in today. Most of the book talks about the past and how we can relate it to the present and what we can learn from the mistakes made by our predecessors.
The facts and statistics he presents show that the "too big to fail" ideology adopted by the government was incorrect and in fact, many of the companies that received bailouts had sufficient assets to fend for themselves. Using AIG as an example, he outlines the overall sector's strengths and weakness during the crash of 2008. He asserts that during times of financial crisis, such as the crash of 2000, companies would inaccurately portray sales in order to make their company appear more valuable.
Highly critical of the Fed, many of his opinions are based around failures of the federal government to correctly manage the economy. Most of the time, he believes that their attempts to bolster the economy stem from pressure from business, rich people, or other government entities. He takes the reader through all of the United States' bubbles since before the Great Depression and explains the causes of each one. According to his statistics, most of the bubbles were caused by the Fed unnecessarily pumping money into the economy. He talks about the $800 billion stimulus and the minimal impact that it has had. He believes Bernanke and Obama are merely buying borrowed time with borrowed money.
The most interesting parts are when he quotes grim situations which highlight the depth of corruption in the government and big banks. In one instance, during the financial crisis of 2008, the Chairperson of the FDIC was "rarely consulted" and when she was, she was commanded: "you have to do this or the system will go down." There was "no analysis, no meaningful discussion." She expressed her frustration and explained that it became commonplace for her to be forced to carry out orders without being told the reasons or the end goals behind those orders. Generally, the government was unable to give reasons because they were acting on the whim of large banks. In another story, a head government official recounts the CEO of Goldman Sachs coercing him into providing the banks with bailout, lest their be dire consequences. The book has many shocking stories such as these. Each uncovers a different piece of corruption that, when added up, reveals a frightening picture of our government today.
It was VERY detailed. There were countless facts and statistics to support his arguments and viewpoints.
It provided a good snapshot into the inner workings of politics and government monetary policy.
He provided factual stories and quotes throughout the book.
He focused on many of the large power-players in our economy and their roles in the financial crashes.
The book tended to jump from time period to time period. One moment it's about the Great Depression, and the next, it's current. It can make it difficult to follow at times. It also makes it difficult to review.
It can be repetitive. Many of the things are said more than once or they are just reworded.
It's a bit dry. Even with the stories and shocking data, I still found it hard to concentrate.
It is a fast-moving, authoritative bi-partisan tale of economically illiterate Presidents, Cabinet members, congressmen and Federal Reserve jokers who have led us down a path of fiscal destruction.
You'll learn who, what, when and why from the mythical and unsupported legends of Reaganism and Nikon and the two Bushes to Fanny May and Freddy Mac, and to the unscrupulous ignorance of Alan Greenspan and Casper Weinberger...and on to irresponsible budget gorging by the Military-industrial complex...and so much more. No President since FDR remains unscathed, and Congress looks about as idiotic as it can possibly look.
It makes you realize that politicos know absolutely NOTHING about free-market capitalism, and hence they have literally driven us to the fiscal wall when it wasn't necessary...and for no good reason...when the market itself would have adjusted much better on its own rules without such ignorant and despicable interference.
You will learn how decades of idiots panicked out of ignorance (think Greenspan and Bernacke, especially) and how Wall Street saved its own neck (and its own bottom line) in complete and wonton disregard for American taxpayers.
We didn't need to bail out anybody in 2008...it was all the contagion of panic by know-nothings who brought us fiscal bubbles, housing bubbles, junk bond bubbles, and more.
The unfettered free-market when left to its own devices shuts down badly performing financial entities and banks and allows them to evaporate into nothingness, all the while making room for much more highly functional entities to replace them. That is, unless Greenspan and Bernacke and others at the Fed interfere and think they know best when they do not.
Don't ever think economics is above your pay-grade. It is fraught will wisdom and lessons for the ages. And David Stockman is an outstanding bearer of the bad news that Americans need desperately to know.