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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Every Friday night, people in my profession (I trade fixed income at a bank) print up "research" to read over the weekend ahead of next week's trading. This is the light under which you need to assess this book, and the prism under which I've given it three stars.

The authors come from the school of thought that holds Germany is to blame for the fact that Greek cab drivers prefer to drive a Merc. As if there were some entity in Germany (or Greece for that matter) that grants permissions to buyers and sellers of goods and services to deal with one another. Elsewhere in the book they state that Germany is a huge loser in the EU because the savings of its people have been used to buy Greek government bonds that will pay zero. I buy the argument more for China where the "hand" is less invisible, but I read the book carefully and could not find any suggestions for what should have been done differently in Germany in the past and what there is to be done now. Well, that's actually not entirely true. The authors believe all of southern Europe needs to be kicked out and the Union must continue with the original members less Italy. Tough to argue with that.

It's the Martin Wolf type of analysis that starts from the fact that books must balance and my asset is your liability and my employees are your clients etc. etc. And if there's too much of that business going on he calls it an imbalance and that's bad.

Sadly, the authors do not have the writing skills of Matin Wolf. I read some 200 pages of research a week, I've sat through many hours of Economics lectures and I've read many books, so I consider myself an expert in swallowing research pieces / finance books whole. No can do with this one. It's dense, and at least one of the two authors writes as if he has some secret model in his mind that he has not revealed to us but keeps referring to. You CANNOT SKIM this, you certainly cannot read it in the tube. If it was some type of masterpiece, that would be alright. But it's not a masterpiece and if you are not a hardened reader of street research this is tough going!

Regardless, I have learnt tons of stuff from reading this book, much as I disagree with the bits I know something about. There's a massive China section that opened my eyes and is plenty better written than the US section. UK and Japan get a look-in too, but it's cursory.

Also, this is the work of people who actually CARE about the topics they cover and contains tons of ideas you don't encounter many places. For example, they state the known facts about the size of the baby boomer generation and its relative weight in US society, but go on to explain how they won't be retiring anytime soon for a number of reasons that sound very sensible. Further down in the book they get to the same issue in Germany, where apparently we have not started yet, because the baby boom did not start till ten years after the devastation of the war.

Finally, the last chapter, written in italics, is a full list of what happens next in the view of the authors. I swear somebody else wrote it because it's clearly written and does not follow from the first 200 pages in any coherent way. It alone is worth the purchase price.

I gained tons from persevering with this book, but it was not a romantic weekend in Paris, it was more of an educational trip to Kabul.
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on 17 February 2012
One of the best books about the world's saving and spending imbalances I've come across. The impossibility of continuing with the current set up for the US-China and within Europe debtor-creditor relationships is excellently argued. The timelines for the slump of 2011-2012 may or may not hold exactly but it's clear that the reconing has to come. Get the book and educate yourself about economic fundamental causes before getting carried away with the simptoms of which there is written lots and lots.
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