Reckless by Byron L. Dorgan

book cover piggy bank Reckless: How debt, deregulation, and dark money nearly bankrupted America (and how we can fix it!) (2009)

The first thing to note is that this book was written by a Democratic Senator (ND) and he was in the thick of things during the TARP scam concocted by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

In the preface he makes his position clear:

I voted against the $700 billion [TARP bailout] because I didn’t think the Treasury Secretary had the foggiest idea of what he was going to do with the money. That turned out to be the case.

In a matter of weeks in what must surely have been one of the biggest bait and switch operations in government history, the Treasury Secretary changed his mind after he got the money. Instead of buying “TROUBLED ASSETS” from financial institutions, he decided he would use the money TO INVEST CAPITAL IN BANKS. And he doled out the money WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED. There was NO REQUIREMENT THAT THE BANKS USE THE FUNDS TO EXPAND LENDING [which was what the economy needed]. And there was NO PROHIBITION on the use of the money for EXECUTIVE BONUSES. It made no sense that he would pur money into the big banks without requiring some increase their lending. But he did.

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The Squandering of America by Robert Kuttner

book jacket tilted busThe Squandering of America: How the Failure of our Politics Undermines our Prosperity (2007) by Robert Kuttner

I am starting at the end in the chapter of on Trade and the National Interest, subtitle “The Debate We Should be Having.” Much of the book is kind of more of the same of his other books, maybe a little more difficult to get into. I did particularly like his position on trade since the TPP terrifies me in a scifi dystopian world to come soon kind of way. Page 241:

If you accept the broad premise of this book (and the evidence of twentieth history), a MANAGED FORM OF CAPITALISM is far better for most people, better for a broadly diffused prosperity, better for economic efficiency, and better for the stability of the system as a whole. The nation-state is necessarily the venue of that economic management, because it is the locus of government and of political democracy. There is no global government, only very partial and largely unaccountable institutions of international regulation. The only entity close to a transnational democratic polity is the European Union. But the European Union solves the problem of reconciling private commerce with managed capitalism on only one continent and Europe’s model is coming under increasing threat by the current brand of globalization.

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Debtors’ Prison by Robert Kuttner

Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity versus Possibility debtors prisonby Robert Kuttner (2013)

This book is by one of my new favorite authors. He and the book are described on the jacket flap in a very well written piece, so I have started this post with it in its entirety. Highly recommend this author and all he has written.

One of our foremost economic thinkers challenges a cherished tenet of today’s financial orthodoxy: that spending less, refusing to forgive debt, and shrinking government — austerity — is the solution to a persisting economic crisis like ours or Europe’s, now in its fifth year.

Since the collapse of September 2008, the conversation about economic recovery has centered on whose debt to forgive, and how to cut the deficit. These questions dominated the sound bites of the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the fiscal-cliff debates, and the perverse policies of the European Union.

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