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How would you rate this book - Bad Money 

How Would You Rate Bad Money?
0 (worst) 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
1 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
2 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
3 75%  75%  [ 3 ]
4 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
5 (best) 25%  25%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 4

How would you rate this book - Bad Money 
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Post How would you rate this book - Bad Money
I haven't voted yet because I have not finished the book yet, this poll will be up for a long time.

:book:



Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:33 pm
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Does anyone want to schedule a chat for any particular chapter in this book?

The date and time can probably be posted on the main page by Chris. I am interested in discussing any of the seven chapter however I am still reading chapter 4....

:book:



Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:09 pm
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I cast my middle-of-the-road vote (3) partly because I'm economically ignorant and am not sure how to evaluate Phillips's arguments; and partly because Phillips' analysis seemed kind of patchy in parts, more clever than careful, and just plain disorganized. I tried several times to outline a chapter, and just couldn't figure out how one paragraph related to the next.

It's a 240-page rant: entertaining enough, and he's probably right about large parts of it. But its obviously alarmist and like Camacho I think he runs out of things to say well before he runs out ink.

As far as the historical parallels, the contemporary U.S. may resemble 19th-century England and 18th-century Holland in certain ways, but I'm not convinced that the differences don't outweigh the similarities. Phillips himself points out that England and Holland were both surpassed by new energy regimes & nations with the ability to control them. What new energy regime lies in wait for the U.S.? Isn't peak oil a problem for China too? And isn't it a problem in spades for Iran?

On another subject, I think that Phillips is a little too quick to say that our problem with the religious right has subsided. They may have suffered a setback, but they're definitely not gone. And by the way, Iran has been known to have issues with their religious right as well -- which makes me doubt that Iran & China will ever cuddle up as closely as Phillips seems to suggest.

I've found a few reviews of the book, which I hope will help me to put Phillips's polemic in perspective. I'll read them tonight, and summarize them for the list if anyone is interested.



Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:43 am
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I'd be interesting in the reviews Billy. I'm on Chapter 4 right now and haven't distilled much to talk about in the forums. Most of the book talks of the interplay of economical items that requires you to know what they are initially. There's still a good bit of information, but to get the nitty gritty, you need to be educated.



Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:58 pm
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Billy C wrote:
I cast my middle-of-the-road vote (3) partly because I'm economically ignorant and am not sure how to evaluate Phillips's arguments; and partly because Phillips' analysis seemed kind of patchy in parts, more clever than careful, and just plain disorganized. I tried several times to outline a chapter, and just couldn't figure out how one paragraph related to the next.

I gave it a "3" as well and agree with your assessment. Maybe I haven't tried as hard as I should with the book, but an effort every author must make is to smooth the way for the reader, keep him on track. We shouldn't object to working hard if the ideas are hard to fathom, but if it's the author's presentation that hinders our comprehension, that's a problem and I think Phillips runs into that. I still want to make a last review of the book, though, thinking that the meanings will dawn on me. I'm glad I read the book.



Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:11 pm
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I have four reviews, which I'll give in order from most to least positive. I apologize for the length.

John Lanchester's review in the New Yorker ("Melting into air," November 10, 2008, p. 80-84) is actually an article discussing several books that predicted our current economic problems. He gives one paragraph to "Bad money," and it's positive. Lanchester calls the book a "map of how we got here" and a "powerful account."

Barry Gewen in the New York Times ("What ails the American economy? Everything, and there's worse to come," April 21, 2008, p. E7) is also mostly positive, but criticises Phillips for giving only the most pessimistic analysis; and for relying on dubious historical comparisons, but concludes by saying that Phillips's warnings have to be taken seriously.

Daniel Gross in the New York Times Book Review ("Riches to rags," August 3, 2008, p. 17) has more to criticize. He does say that Phillips is an "entertaining writer," but doesn't buy Phillips's version about how the government has deliberately helped to inflate an economic bubble -- Gross thinks such an account gives government officials too much credit. He accuses Phillips of blaming every unfortunate outcome on "the corrupting influence of finance" when other reasonable explanations exist. Finally, Gross says that Phillips unjustifiably extrapolates current trends indefinitely into the future: "Phillips thinks the bubble ... will continue unabated, when in fact it's already popped."

The most negative review is from Robert M. Solow -- a professor of economics at MIT and Nobel Prizewinner -- in the New Republic ("Getting it wrong," September 10, 2008, p. 32-35). "The only nice thing I can say about Bad Money," he writes, "is that taking a critical aim at our complex, overblown, and now evidently dangerous financial system is a fine idea. The trouble is that Kevin Phillips stays throughout at the superficial level of Chicken Little." And there end the kind words. Solow proceeds to an historical explanation of Gresham's Law ("Bad money drives out good money"), and laments that Phillips never explains what the Law has to do with his thesis. From there it's downhill: Phillips complains about finance being too large a part of our GDP but never says what size would be better. Phillips ignores the useful functions performed by the financial system. Phillips misrepresents statistics: "Phillips does not seem to understand what a consumer price index is."

But Solow saves his heaviest scorn for Phillips's worries about a weakening dollar. He acknowledges that it is a common habit to treat the high exchange value of one's currency as a matter of national pride, and that Phillips "identifies the role of the dollar as being some sort of index of American masculinity." But he argues for a more rational view, saying that a declining dollar "is not as big a deal as it may seem." In particular, he says that Phillips has completely misread the purpose of China's dollar reserves, whose purpose is not to defend the Yen but rather to prevent its exchange value from rising.

I'll say this: Solow is certainly a better writer than Phillips. Still, I can't shake the feeling that Phillips is on to something, and if I were to pick a review that most resonated with my own reading, it would be Daniel Gross's.

Barry Gewen's and Daniel Gross's reviews are freely available online, though I don't know whether these links will work. If not just enter a search at the New York Times website.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/21/books ... omy&st=cse

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/books ... ags&st=cse



Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:48 pm
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I've heard it said that critics are failed creators.

:book:



Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:59 pm
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Grim, thanks for taking the initiative to get a chat scheduled for this book. If enough people are interested we'll put it on the calendar and I'll email the entire community to let them know of the day/time of the chat. Keep me posted. :smile:



Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:07 am
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Great, it will be nice to hear from other interested people regarding the chat of course. I would tentatively say next Sunday afternoon. The morning works best for me, say 11 or 12 eastern? Unless that time is bad for anyone else who is interested.

It's kind of funny but personally I have not yet finished the book. Hope to soon though.

:book:



Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:05 pm
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