Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times
The Great Deformation is a searing look at Washington's craven response to the recent myriad of financial crises and fiscal cliffs. It counters conventional wisdom with an eighty-year revisionist history of how the American state especially the Federal Reserve has fallen prey to the politics of crony capitalism and the ideologies of fiscal stimulus, monetary central planning, and financial bailouts. These forces have left the public sector teetering on the edge of political dysfunction and fiscal collapse and have caused Americas private enterprise foundation to morph into a speculative casino that swindles the masses and enriches the few.
Defying right- and left-wing boxes, David Stockman provides a catalogue of corrupters and defenders of sound money, fiscal rectitude, and free markets. The former includes Franklin Roosevelt, who fathered crony capitalism; Richard Nixon, who destroyed national financial discipline and the Bretton Woods gold-backed dollar; Fed chairmen Greenspan and Bernanke, who fostered our present scourge of bubble finance and addiction to debt and speculation; George W. Bush, who repudiated fiscal rectitude and ballooned the warfare state via senseless wars; and Barack Obama, who revived failed Keynesian borrow and spend” policies that have driven the national debt to perilous heights. By contrast, the book also traces a parade of statesmen who championed balanced budgets and financial market discipline including Carter Glass, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Simon, Paul Volcker, Bill Clinton, and Sheila Bair.
Stockman's analysis skewers Keynesian spenders and GOP tax-cutters alike, showing how they converged to bloat the welfare state, perpetuate the military-industrial complex, and deplete the revenue base even as the Fed's massive money printing allowed politicians to enjoy deficits without tears.” But these policies have also fueled new financial bubbles and favored Wall Street with cheap money and rigged stock and bond markets, while crushing Main Street savers and punishing family budgets with soaring food and energy costs. The Great Deformation explains how we got here and why these warped, crony capitalist policies are an epochal threat to free market prosperity and American political democracy.
"Stockman, Ronald Reagan's director of the Office of Budget and Management, diagnoses America's political system as a 'tyranny of incumbency and money politics' in this extensive treatise. The Troubled Asset Relief Program incited him to begin this history government interventions being antithetical to the Reaganism but he argues that short of 'sweeping constitutional change,' any solution 'is so radical it can't happen.' Stockman's narrative holds that the government caused the 'Great Recession' by saving private entities like AIG, that the roots of the 2007-2008 housing crisis stretch back to the Bretton Woods conference, and that all this behavior is a revival of New Deal Keynesianism. He includes comprehensive lists of heroes and villains; with Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Alan Greenspan all named among the latter. After several hundred pages of deep analysis, he offers 13 suggestions for a way forward, but the book, otherwise focused and provocative, can't decide whether it is a history or a policy brief; his obsession with history overtakes the need to design a future, and instead of each option receiving due consideration, they're squeezed onto the end. Since Stockman convinced us the problems are nearly insoluble, a more balanced presentation would make this a more functional document. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A coruscating, brilliantly insightful exegesis of where capitalism went wrong, how it was corrupted, and how it might be restored, by the outspoken former Reagan budget director and bestselling author
David Stockman was the architect of the Reagan Revolution meant to restore sound money principles to the U.S. government. It failed, derailed by politics, special interests, welfare, and warfare. In The Great Deformation Stockman describes how the working of free markets and democracy has long been under threat in America, and provides a nonpartisan, surprising catalog of the corrupters and defenders. His analysis overturns the assumptions of Keynesians and monetarists alike, showing how both “liberal” and “neo-conservative” interference in markets has proved damaging and often dangerous. Over time, crony capitalism has made fools of us all, transforming Republican treasury secretaries into big government interventionists, and populist Democrat presidents into industry wrecking internationalists. Today’s national debt stands at nearly $16 trillion. Divided equally among taxpayers, each of us is $52,000 in debt. This book explains how we got here—and why this warped crony capitalism has betrayed so many of our hopes and dreams.
About the Author
David A. Stockman was elected as a Michigan congressman in 1976 and joined the Reagan White House in 1981. Serving as budget director, he was one of the key architects of the Reagan Revolution plan to reduce taxes, cut spending, and shrink the role of government. He joined Salomon Brothers in 1985 and later became one of the early partners of the Blackstone Group. During nearly two decades at Blackstone and at a firm he founded, Stockman was a private equity investor. Stockman attended Michigan State University and Harvard Divinity School and then went to Washington as a congressional aide in 1970. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed.