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Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed [Paperback]

Paul Mason
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

20 April 2009
Meltdown tells the story of the financial crisis that destroyed the West's investment banks, brought the global economy to its knees, and undermined three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy. Covering the credit crunch and its aftershocks from the economic front line, BBC 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 response to the immense challenge now facing the existing economic system, he outlines an era of hyper-regulated capitalism that could emerge from the wreckage.

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Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed + Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions + Live Working or Die Fighting: How The Working Class Went Global
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; Original edition (20 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844673960
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844673964
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 355,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A page turning account ... Mason is refreshingly clear-eyed and angry. --Will Hutton, Guardian

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

A lucid and sharply polemical account of the crisis. --Oliver Kamm, The Times

About the Author

Paul Mason is the economics editor of BBC Newsnight. He has covered globalisation and social justice stories from locations across the world, including the USA, Latin America, Africa and China. His book Live Working or Die Fighting was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Paul's blog on the financial crisis is at

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Mason is BBC Newsnight's economics editor and one of the most cogent, far-thinking and incisive writers on business I've read. 'Meltdown' was written as the financial crisis unfolded, and it reads both as a cold eye on the fundamental flaws in the global capital markets and an on-the-spot report detailing the hot-blooded wrestling that has taken place in government offices and corporate boardrooms. The roots of the current crisis are complex, but it's disappointing that so many business writers (and business people) have collapsed into intellectual nihilism in response. It's not impossible to understand what structured investment vehicles are, and why they're affecting almost all of us in some way right now. Mason not only explains what went on, he also provides a view on what is going on, and what it might mean for the future of business, finance, workers, international relations and the world. This book is a rare example of business writing that combines clarity, sophistication and personal perspective, but it's also an invaluable hint of business issues to come. And - refreshingly - it's a delight to read: concise, personable, flowing. Highest common denominator writing.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful account of the crisis 10 Jun 2009
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'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meltdown 16 Jan 2012
Economics is difficult for most of us and so a book that clearly explains theories and stops in mid flow to interpret jargon into plain English is welcome. That, for me, is the main strength of Mason's 'Meltdown' - he's provided an explanation of the current economic mess that everyone can understand.

It's a sophisticated analysis as well. History, social conflict, politics as well as economics and business play their role in Mason's work. This is a work of political economy and, as Mason says, political economy is back.

Recommended reading on the current crisis and then followed by David Harvey's 'The Enigma of Capital'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 14 Jan 2012
Clear and easily digestible overview of the banking crisis from one of the few mainstream journalists worth listening to. Unfortunately as the costs of the crisis are transferred to the rest of the population, the book's tag-line 'the end of the age of greed' has not yet come to pass. Nothing less than the expunging to the banks' fictitious assets can save us from a new depression.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wam bam thank you ma'am of the crisis 17 Jan 2010
A concise (yet blow by blow) account of the crisis as it unravelled.

Paul Mason tells it like a journalist ought to; letting events speak for themselves rather than using it as an opportunity to wax lyrical to show just how much he knows. He happened to be at the right place at the right time and his account is succinct and faithful. Brilliantly done.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Paul Mason's Meltdown provides a very useful primer on the financial crisis that began in the Summer of 2007 and is now working its way through the global economy. He is particularly informative and clear about the twists and turns of the various failures of market confidence and the government bailouts that followed. Unlike many commentators, Mason also offers a clear set of proposals for stabilising the financial system in the future.

It is too early to have a definitive account of the crisis. But Mason's book is extremely useful. He also has a good eye for the telling anecdote. I don't often write Amazon reviews but in this case I thought I would make an exception.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read 14 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is wonderfully informative and is written in a very accessible style. Here is a Northern lad, telling this complicated financial and human tale in a way that opens it up and lays it out really clearly. If you want to know more about the background to the massive pickle that we find ourselves trapped in, read this. You'll be a whole lot wiser at the end of it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My dad who is 86 loved this book
Published 10 days ago by Antheadawn nichollsA
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read
A comprehensive journalistic (rather than academic) cover of the financial crisis starting in 2008 and the crucial way the unregulated banks brought this about.
Published 10 months ago by Mr James Atherton
1.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly ignorant book
Everytime there is a crisis, leftists try to seize the opportunity and put up a jolly good show, creating the next, bigger one. Read more
Published on 31 Oct 2011 by Misesfollower
5.0 out of 5 stars Deciphering the crunch.
Paul Mason is a brilliant journalist.His abilities with language and his talent for making the incredibly complex something even I can grasp, is invaluable. Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2011 by stingyjane
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written
This is the best book I have ever read on modern economics, its clarity, clear clear sightedness and birds eye view of the events of the financial crash are enlighting because Paul... Read more
Published on 13 July 2011 by J. Maher
3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, but interesting in its way
The first thing to say is that Paul Mason has a history of being on the (fairly) hard left.
I have no idea what his current political persuasion is, but I think it's unlikely... Read more
Published on 28 April 2011 by MonsterMunch
Paul Mason is the economics editor of the BBC's flagship Newsnight programme. He explicitly says that this is a journalist's account of the current, and still ongoing, world... Read more
Published on 24 Mar 2011 by DAVID BRYSON
5.0 out of 5 stars We're Still Melting Down
You might know Paul Mason as Newsnight's economics editor. If so, then the sound of his voice probably brings up mixed emotions for you: most of his appearances over the last few... Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2011 by DigiTAL
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and easy to understand explanation of the global financial...
This book explains in simple terms (most of the time) how the Financial crisis happened, why it happened and names the people responsible for both making it happen and for allowing... Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2011 by S. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Swept Away
This is a superb piece of reportage and analysis. It must be the best single account of the economic travails of the world in the past few years and, equally important, looks... Read more
Published on 6 Jan 2011 by Ian Millard
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