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Leverage: How Cheap Money Will Destroy the World Hardcover – November 15, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Leverage is an essential part of the financial system, and when used properly it allows businesses to borrow funds to invest in growth and expansion, offers opportunities for reasonably priced housing, and much more. But current imbalances in the ways in which leverage is being used by the rich and powerful in the United States and abroad have led to an alarming situation that threatens to shake the global economy to its core.

In Leverage: How Cheap Money Will Destroy the World, well-known market commentator Karl Denninger literally follows the money, tracing the path it has taken through history and discovers a shocking truth—the power to control a nation's purse strings is addictive, and when that power falls into the hands of only a select few, they will pull the levers of government and policy to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. History is littered with the stories of collapsed monetary systems, and in every case the debasement of the currency in question, and the disasters that followed, can be directly blamed on excessive leverage, deployed in ill-intentioned and fraudulent ways by the elite.

The current Great Recession is no exception to this rule. It was no accident, and the politicians and monied interests responsible knew that it was coming. Special interests and other influential individuals have always used leverage to enrich themselves while looting the population at large. Eventually the bill always comes due and then we all have to pay.

With Leverage in hand, we can avoid this disaster, and Denninger shows how. With practical, realistic ideas for fixing the financial system, devising sound energy policies, and more, the book stands between us and a debt we simply can't afford.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Leverage

"Karl Denninger is a brilliant economist and someone whose opinions I respect and highly value.Leverage is a remarkable work that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to truly grasp the principles that drive our current economy and the breakdowns that occur when the fundamental mathematical laws governing economies are ignored or obfuscated. Karl has taken a complex macroeconomic system and masterfully pared it down to its essence. Leverage presents this information in an elegantly simple manner that the average high school student would understand, and provides a realistic plan for eliminating the mechanisms that have caused the 'boom and bust' cycles and over-leveraging that have plagued our economy for decades."—Adrian Wyllie, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida and syndicated talk radio host

"Karl is something of a rarity in our politics—a Tea Party conservative who believes in strong and effective regulation as a mechanism towards reducing excessive leverage in our economy. He spares no one in this discussion of a financial services industry that colluded with the government to rip off Americans by convincing them that home prices could never decline and that home equity was an ATM. Undergirding all of this was leverage, a useful tool that can become a poison if ingested wrongly or in unwise amounts. Leverage infects our medical system, educational system, and government. I don't agree with everything Karl says. I am after all a liberal, and he is not. But he provides a clear explanation of what is wrong with our economic and political order, and how to fix it."—Matt Stoller, American political activist and writer

"Karl Denninger of The Market Ticker® has been a prophetic voice crying in the wilderness, repeatedly warning the world of the dangers of excessive debt. In Leverage, he provides a cogent analysis of the current economic crisis as well as a set of drastic policy prescriptions that may be the U.S. economy's only chance for eventual recovery."—Vox Day, author of The Return of the Great Depression

"In 2007, our once lucrative business was collapsing. The harder we worked, the more difficult it became to afford even a modest standard of living. Out of a desperate need for answers, I started researching and that research led me to Karl Denninger's Market Ticker. As a quintessential Jane Six Pack, I knew only the basics of economics and the financial sense my accountant father had instilled in me. What I have learned from Karl over the past four years has changed my family's life, and I credit Karl for saving us from the financial ruin that has devastated many of our friends and extended family. Thankfully, Karl has simplified and condensed all this knowledge and information into one, easy-to-read book; so it won't take you as long as it took me to understand the scope of what we face and how to protect yourself and the people you love. Leverage is both frightening in its reality and hopeful in that it gives us the tools to change our future. Leverage should be in every classroom in America."—Stephanie Jasky, founder, FedUpUSA.org


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118122844
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118122846
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAME on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
On the very last page of the book I learn that the author received the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award for Grassroots Journalism, for his coverage of the 2008 market meltdown. This confirms my own already formed very high estimation of the author and his work. In fact, although I normally do links at the end of the review, let me open with some other books that are world-class and within which I place this work as comparable:

The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
SAVAGE CAPITALISM AND THE MYTH OF DEMOCRACY: Latin America in the Third Millennium
Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (New in Paper)

Here is the author's three-line conclusion to the longer chapter that ends the book (my own notes in parenthesis):

01 Federal and state governments KNEW what was going on, and are COMPLICIT.
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Karl Denninger, the profane and eloquent author of the Market Ticker blog, has distilled his high-quality Internet ranting into a simple, intelligible diagnosis of the state of our economy and, to some extent, our polity. For those familiar with Denninger's blog, you will notice a concerted effort to make an argument that is as inoffensive as possible. It is mostly free of the global warming skepticism and religiosity that likely would dismay the typical American leftist; those on the right will enjoys his condemnations of class warfare and illegal immigration.

The book itself is an indictment of the abusive borrowing and lending by banks, governments, corporations, and consumers over the last three decades; while this borrowing has driven an illusory prosperity, it will be the eventual cause of a moderately or horribly painful reckoning. The first half of the book discusses key concepts of compound interest and the debt circle, which you probably should have learned in school, and then explained how these basic principles have been intentionally or unintentionally ignored. The most cogent argument Denninger makes is that lending must always be backed with tangible assets equivalent to the value of the loan or else charge interest rates sufficient to compensate the risk bondholders and stockholders take when they provide necessary additional capital to back the loan. The message is clear: lenders keep trying to sell money they don't have.

The second half of the book takes an important turn. Noting that most books of this type advise how to avoid the catastrophe, Denninger makes a clear and haunting point. There are no shelters. There are no safe havens.
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Karl Denninger is one of the brightest minds out there today. I am an avid reader of everything he writes, and rarely find I disagree. He is not chasing money from the innocent, but is sincerely trying to wake us up to the reality of the world in which we live. Thank you Karl for your diligent efforts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Karl Denninger explains economics in such terms that anyone can understand it. Also, he is someone that can get you up to speed on about any topic possible.

The solutions outlined can be done. Anyone running for political office should read this book. If they haven't read it, they aren't worth your vote.
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Format: Hardcover
Fans of Karl Denninger's blog, The Market Ticker, will know that he does not mince words. He tells it like it is, he does the math, and he does not spare either side of the political aisle the criticism they deserve. With Leverage, he has distilled four years' worth of blog postings down into a concise explanation of why we're in the fix we're in, how we got into the fix in the first place, and what we can do to get OUT of it. And he does so in a fashion that's accessible to anyone, whether you're a Ph.D. economist or you struggle to balance your checkbook every month.

Denninger starts by discussing the basic principles of financial leverage, or the use of borrowed money to replace actual earned capital in financial transactions. While it has its uses, he shows how leverage can go from being a powerful servant, to a seductive mistress, to a terrible master. In particular, he devotes a whole chapter to the excesses of the 2000s, such as the growth of the housing bubble and the rise of complicated financial instruments incomprehensible to mortal man. Ultimately, as he's said many times, "that which can't continue forever, won't."

The second half of the book is focused on what must be done to reverse the tide of debt and avoid complete and utter financial collapse, starting with, to quote him again, "stopping the looting and starting prosecuting." His comprehensive plan covers justice, the financial system (including the Federal Reserve), entitlement programs, the medical system, trade, taxes, energy policy (and its little-understood connection to defense policy), and more. Many of his suggestions will not be obvious ones at first glance, but ALL of them make sense.

Ultimately, reforms of the type Denninger advocates will not be painless...
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