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The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent analysis, but not the whole story

    The Great American Stickup offers a compelling narrative which sheds light on how Wall Street was able to essentially take control of the government agencies responsible for its regulation. The book tells how the economic clique of Rubin, Summers and Greenspan helped to repeal Glass-Steagall, which allowed commercial banks to begin taking on excessive risk. These same players also repeatedly stood in the way of efforts to regulate exotic derivatives--the financial instruments that Warren Buffett famously referred to as "weapons of mass destruction."

    While lack of regulation and excessive Wall Street influence over policy makers both enabled and amplified the financial crisis, this book (like most others on the financial crisis) goes too far by asserting that these factors completely explain the crisis. What the book misses is how an extreme increase in income inequality forced most average Americans to struggle to preserve a middle-class lifestyle. Stagnant wages for average workers led people to rely on credit to get by, while at the same time investment in the biggest possible home offered just about the only hope for a typical family to really get ahead. These underlying factors played an important role in the housing and credit bubbles.

    Wall Street's deregulation was certainly important, but the primary, long-term issues driving the crisis where really advancing technology and globalization. These are the forces that led to flat wages for most people, while a tiny minority captured nearly all the gains from growth. It is important to understand this, because neither technology nor globalization is likely to stop progressing anytime soon. In other words, things are likely to get worse. For an excellent overview of this issue, and a warning about an even greater crisis that may well loom in the future, I'd highly recommend this book: The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future.

    Although re-regulation of Wall Street is critical, we should not make the mistake of assuming that that alone will solve our problems. It will not: until the bulk of the population is able to support a reasonable middle class lifestyle via income rather than debt, we will continue to face significant risk of even more severe crises.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2010

    A Must Read

    The Great American Stickup is Scheer at his best - just when we need his voice. I never thought I'd be much interested in derivatives, let alone how they work and who they benefit, but they - and their lack of regulation - are key to the economic mess that Obama and the Wall Streeters have walzed us into. Now the banks and bankers are awash in money while millions of us are losing our jobs and houses. Most of all it leaves me so disappointed in Obama and the chance that he squandered.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Excellent book

    This book is well written, easy to read and very informative!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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