walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Bad Money_ by Kevin Phillips

I apologize if I've already posted about this. I can't find a post about this, but when I typed in, it seemed to think it had seen that subject before. *shrug* Pregnancy brain. Anyway.

I bought this when I bought _Gusher of Lies_, and I had heard part of a Phillips interview on the Diane Rayne (probably spelled wrong) on N(H)PR. I've almost bought his previous books, but kept not, for a variety of reasons which I think I actually kind of understand now.

Phillips is erudite and cranky. Also, a little flippant. The basic thesis of this book is that when empires (previous examples: Spanish, Dutch and English) "financialize", that is, when their financial sector starts to be the biggest/most profitable part of their economy, it's The End (whether it's the beginning of the end, the middle of the end, or the end of the end is not entirely clear, and probably somewhat picky of a point anyway). He points out that the incoming administration is likely to face several major crises (global warming, peak oil, loss of global financial power) that are probably not addressable. He rallies evidence from the aforementioned empires to show how politics is not up to the task, and then describes the current situation in some detail (basically, all our national politicians are bought and sold by Wall Street to a substantial degree). He spends a lot of time on the housing bubble and its collapse, a little time on the tech bubble and its collapse, and a good chunk of time on Rubin/Paulsen/Greenspan (the latter, in particular, as a serial bubbler), and also speculates about what various administrations have done to prop up equity markets in recent decades. He also spends some time explaining why a variety of economic statistics are incredibly bankrupt at this point (hedonic adjustments for computers, for example).

While I think Phillips and I probably agree on, well, just about everything (unlike Bryce, the author of _Gusher of Lies_, who infuriated me repeatedly), this book was a bit of a slog to get through. And I'm a little uncertain how much I learned from it. In an ideal situation, this would have been a great Doom read, but it wasn't, probably because Phillips is a little flippant, and at no point does he suggest these problems are so severe We're All Gonna Die (altho, of course, we _are_, one way or another).

Neutral on this one. I think it's probably a good book.

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