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The Great Depression Ahead: How to Prosper in the Crash Following the Greatest Boom in History Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 6, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 163 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dent, former strategic consultant at Bain & Company, outlines the features of what he predicts will be the next Great Depression. The author argues that demographic trends were the greatest drivers of our economy, along with radical new technologies, working together to follow a four-stage life cycle of innovation, growth, shakeout, and maturity. While Dent's doomsday predictions are depressing, his theories are persuasive and elaborated in meticulous descriptions of historic economic trends and cycles. The author's candor is refreshing, especially when he discusses how equity investments experience a wide variety of returns, including substantial losses or extraordinary gains—and that the financial press has failed to remind the public of this fact. The book offers welcome portfolio allocation strategies during an economic crisis, as well as the bad news that the worst of the housing downturn will occur between 2010 and 2013. Along with domestic forecasts, Dent addresses terrorism's economic roots and the growth of megacities in South and East Asia with characteristic thoroughness. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Dent, author and consultant, predicts the economy is moving toward a major depression, with the deflation of bubbles in stocks, real estate, and commodities between mid- to late 2009 and mid- to late 2012, and it could last for a decade or more. Rather than offering only a gloomy outlook, Dent presents a road map for the difficult times ahead, suggesting cash and money-market investments initially and then highest quality U.S. Treasury, municipal, and corporate bonds and that same quality of bonds in stable Asian and European economies. When assets eventually fall in value, there will be unprecedented buying opportunities for those who are “lean and mean.” Theories and forecasts abound in the financial turmoil facing the U.S. and global markets in late 2008, and everyone may not agree with Dent. However, he makes a compelling case for his predictions and this is an excellent book to challenge a broad range of library patrons. --Mary Whaley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416588981
  • ASIN: B006G825IA
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
1st, Harry Dent is NOT an economist, he works with demographics. 2nd, in his last book "The Next Great Bubble Boom: How to Profit from the Greatest Boom in History: 2006-2010" he predicted the Dow to be 40,000 in 2009. You call that spot on?? Is that just a finer detail?? Was 2006 the start of the Greatest Boom in History as the title indicates? Harry Dent is very good at putting quotes in books and his newsletters that he can draw on as being right no matter what happens much like a psychic reading. When he has made big calls to the extent of making it the title of a book, he was dead wrong. Both AIM and Mass Mutual once had mutual funds based on the Dent philosophy and were sub-managed by him. Both have gone bust as being some of the worst performing mutual funds in recent history. If you followed his investment advise over the last 5 years you would be flat broke by now.
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Format: Hardcover
The main reason to read The Great Depression Ahead is to see the most persuasive case that can be made for an extended economic decline in the United States and other developed countries. After understanding that case, you'll be in a better position to make decisions that will leave you better off regardless if the economy recovers quickly or keeps sliding down for several years (as it did in the early 1930s). Mr. Dent is better than most forecasters for this purpose because he provides lots of documentation for why he develops the scenario forecasts that he does.

What's the essence of the case he's making?

1. Developed countries are facing many years when there will be declining numbers of people in their peak spending years.

2. A multi-decade commodity price cycle is about to peak to be followed by lower prices.

3. The burst bubble in real estate will be with us for some time, and prices will fall further and longer than most people expect.

4. There are no new innovations waiting in the wings to drive economic growth forward.

He takes that scenario and develops investing, business, and personal financial planning solutions over the next century.

The essence of the advice is to play it safe for now by being in short-term Treasuries and to later switch into Treasury bonds after interest rates rise a lot (expecting that the bond prices will soar as the yields once again fall to near zero). If you can sell your house now, sell it and rent. If you can sell your business now, do it. Otherwise, play it safe, hunker down, and wait for competitors to disappear.

Economic forecasts are notoriously wrong. In fact, some forecasters "predict" the opposite of the consensus. Financial forecasts are even worse.

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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The specifics of Dent's thesis are more than covered in other reviews, so I'll focus on considerations that someone might want to know when trying to decide whether to buy the book or follow its advice.

First off, the book is fairly "readable." Although Dent uses charts and graphs frequently (indeed, his methodology is to study past demographic trends to ascertain long term stock market performance), he presents his conclusions in an easy-to-follow format.

Secondly, Dent does an excellent job supporting his central thesis that demographic trends can affect economic cycles. His book provides a well-thought out argument that the US, and indeed, the world economy is going to continue to decline as the result of the deflation of three bubbles, the stock market, real estate, and commodities.

Thirdly, it appears Dent has previously made several significant contrarian predictions that have proven correct, perhaps most notably the collapse of the Japanese stock market in the late 1980's and the tech bubble of the early 2000s. While Dent's predictions aren't always 100% accurate, they do appear to often hit near the mark (with the exception of his prediction that the Dow would hit 40,000, and probably a few others that I am unaware of).

One thing that I find interesting is that, using demographics, Dent not only predicts economic cycles, he explains WHY the economy behaves as it does. In this regard, I find that Dent's use of charts and past cycles is more persuasive that many other authors who simply identify patterns and make predictions based upon them (think of the Superbowl winner predictions, skirt length, or what have you).
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Format: Hardcover
This is not a book for the ages, i.e. this book will not be read at all ten years from now. But even as for reading it in the present, this book pretends to be an exhaustive summary of today's illness rather than what it actually is: amongst other things, a play to get scared folk, wannabe financiers and wannabe real-estate types to shell out the cash to subscribe to Harry Dent's newsletter.

The only positive about this book is that if you are completely ignorant, then this book has some information. But it is precisely these people that are easy to lead down the wrong path. The information about demographics is illustrative and makes sense, if you can separate it from the claims and propaganda that surround it. And finally, none of this book will be new at all to those who are interested in such things, the information all being available.

This book is shilled by plenty of financial people, a head of a Federal Reserve bank and even a governor. To counter such power, let me critique it chapter by chapter:
Prologue - Sounds very reasonable. Makes the case for everything being explained by an analysis of a lot of 'cycles' in history, and the process of Dent's continuing evolution of his research methods.
1.The Great Crash of late 2009-2010 - A full chapter of forecasts without any explanation why. Many of them sound reasonable, but it slowly starts to stretch your belief.
2.The Fundamental Trends that drive our economy - Contains the two cycles that make sense, a demographic cycle and a technology cycle. However, the combination of the two cycles at the end of the chapter seems wrong.
3.New Geopolitical, Commodity and Recurring cycles - Is he dreaming? This chapter seems fantastical. A civilization cycle every 5000 years??
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