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Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed

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Overview

Meltdown is the gripping account of the financial collapse that destroyed the West’s investment banks, brought the global economy to its knees, and undermined three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy. Covering the development of the crisis from the economic front line, BBC Newsnight journalist Paul Mason explores the roots of the US and UK’s financial hubris, documenting the real-world causes and consequences from the Ford factory, to Wall Street, to the City of London. In this fully updated new edition, he recounts...
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Overview

Meltdown is the gripping account of the financial collapse that destroyed the West’s investment banks, brought the global economy to its knees, and undermined three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy. Covering the development of the crisis from the economic front line, BBC Newsnight journalist Paul Mason explores the roots of the US and UK’s financial hubris, documenting the real-world causes and consequences from the Ford factory, to Wall Street, to the City of London. In this fully updated new edition, he recounts how the credit crunch became a full-blown financial crisis, and explores its impact on capitalist ideology and politics in our new age of austerity.
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Editorial Reviews

Will Hutton - The Guardian
“A page-turning account … Mason is refreshingly clear-eyed—and angry.”
Evening Standard
“Excellent.”
Sunday Telegraph
“A reporter’s eye-view of key events, enlivened by colorful brushstrokes.”
John Gray - The New Statesman
“What people need is a reliable guide to the financial crisis …
Meltdown is the book they are looking for.”
Oliver Kamm - The Times [London]
“A lucid and sharply polemical account.”
From the Publisher
“A page-turning account ... Mason is refreshingly clear-eyed—and angry.”—Will Hutton, The Guardian

“Excellent.”—Evening Standard

“What people need is a reliable guide to the financial crisis ... Meltdown is the book they are looking for.”—John Gray, The New Statesman

“A lucid and sharply polemical account.”—Oliver Kamm, The Times [London]

Publishers Weekly

Mason (Live Working or Die Fighting), the economics editor of BBC Newsnight, relies on accessible and pithy language to lay out the time line of the meltdown of the U.S. economy in September 2008 and its global reverberations. He details the root causes, names names with impunity and place the blame squarely on the shoulders of policymakers. He argues that when the law governing debt to capital ratios was quietly changed in 2004, this gave banks carte blanche to do whatever they needed to do to make money. Mason writes, "Had the old capital restrictions been in place, it is unlikely that any of the Wall Street banks could have built up toxic debts on the scale that eventually sank them." With a quick history (and refutation) of neoliberal ideology, he makes his case that we are seeing the closing of an era; the future heralds the end of the old world banking system business model in favor of "low-profit, utility-style banking." This is an instructive and succinct play-by-play of the global crisis, helpful for anyone in finance, economics or even policy. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844676538
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 11/8/2010
  • Edition description: New Updated Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 976,057
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Mason is the economics editor of the BBC’s flagship current affairsprogram Newsnight and appears frequently on BBC World News America.He has covered globalization and social justice stories from locations aroundthe world, including Latin America, Africa and China. His book Live Working,Die Fighting was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.
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Table of Contents

Introduction vii

1 Midtown Meltdown: The Collapse of Free-Market Capitalism 1

2 Hyperdrive Blitzkrieg: Wall Street Hubris Kills the Bailout, Enrages America 22

3 Financial Krakatoa: From the Banking Explosion to a Volcanic Winter of Recession 37

4 White Shoes: How Deregulation Made the Investment Banks All-Powerful 56

5 Subprime: How the Low-Wage Economy Fuelled High-Risk Finance 81

6 The Big Freeze: The Credit Crunch and the Inflation Spike of 2007-8 99

7 Helping Is Futile: The Life and Death of Neoliberal Ideology 118

8 The Disrupted Wave: On the Eve of Depression or a New Long Upswing" 143

9 The Fatal Stimulus: From Global Slump to Euro Crisis 174

10 The Return of Political Economy: Who Pays for the Crisis" 217

Notes 235

Glossary 249

Index 255

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Powerful account of the crisis

    Paul Mason, the economics editor of BBC Newsnight, has written a powerful study of the crash. He surveys the financial meltdown, the decade that led to the disaster, and the life and death of neo-liberalism.

    Gordon Brown told us in June 2007 that deregulating Britain's banks would be 'the beginning of a new golden age'. The bankers lied that they took high risks so they deserved their high rewards. But they took the profits from industrial production and put them into finance, not back into industry: "the end result is that profits are funnelled from ordinary savers into the pockets of the rich."

    The bankers created the credit bubbles in dotcom, housing and commodities. Speculators bought technologies, houses, oil, rice, wheat and soya, until all the bubbles burst, laying waste those parts of the real economy.

    After the financial crisis, the governments bought the banks' debts as dearly as possible, so as not to penalise them, running up huge debts and printing money, to save the banks, whatever the cost to the economy. There are $10 trillions' worth of toxic loans, only $1 trillion of which has been written off so far.

    The world's workforce has doubled since 1979 to three billion. This huge supply of labour has tilted the balance of power from labour towards capital. So now we need to fight smarter for higher wages, and for a different economy.

    To do so, workers will have to reject what Mason calls the 'low-level, non-ideological, anti-political culture' of the anti-globalisation movement. He points out, "In the same month that half a million American workers would lose their jobs, the main focus of the Non-Governmental Organisations leaflets was 'Don't forget aid to Africa'." We should reject the NGOs' slogan 'Think globally, act locally'. We have to act in our nation-states, in our national unions.

    Mason observes, "Capitalism's tendency has been to expand the power of the market: to push for the maximum freedom for market forces and the destruction of all ties - family, clan, nation and class - not based on free exchange." So we have to save our nation and our class from destruction by the capitalist class.

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