Review: Age of Greed by Jeff Madrick

Subtitle: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

I envy authors who can take a complex subject, research the socks off it, relate it with clarity and context, and then make it interesting to read. That’s just what Jeff Madrick has done with our most recent financial meltdown in Age of Greed.

Anyone who wants someone to blame for the economic mess we’re in needs look no further than Age of Greed. There are plenty of villains and precious few heroes. And he spares no politician or financial regulator – Democrats, Republicans, Fed chairmen, Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission all come in for their share of blame.

What the cause boiled down to, in my reading of Age of Greed at least, was the systematic de-regulation of financial markets, the undoing of rules enacted during the Great Depression to keep banks from foolish actions that threatened the entire economy. And then there is the monumental greed of financial titans who enriched themselves at everyone else’s expense. They make Bernie Madoff look like a piker!

There is so much in Age of Greed that it’s difficult to synopsize it. My advice is to read it for yourself. It will enlighten, inform and change the way you listen to politicians – especially those who blather on about needing to keep our financial institutions free of regulation in order to get the economy going again. Give me a break!

Every citizen should read this book.

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