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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars highly readable analysis of the malaise affecting the West today
Definitely a book worth reading for a succinct analysis of the malaise experienced by the west, and for the ability to put it in the wider historical context. Simple, straightforward and jargon free it is the ideal introduction to reading about the challenges which we'll have to overcome if we want to continue prospering
Published 22 months ago by l b

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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising much but delivering less
Frustrated by politicians' refusal to admit that western economies may be in permanent decline, and their wrangling over austerity versus stimulus as the key to restoring growth which may be a chimera, I leapt eagerly on King's topical book.

I like King's rejection of economists' recent preoccupation with obscure models, and his concern to take historical,...
Published 21 months ago by Antenna


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars highly readable analysis of the malaise affecting the West today, 27 May 2013
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Definitely a book worth reading for a succinct analysis of the malaise experienced by the west, and for the ability to put it in the wider historical context. Simple, straightforward and jargon free it is the ideal introduction to reading about the challenges which we'll have to overcome if we want to continue prospering
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting read and a convincing argument, 24 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
This book presents the most convincing argument I've read so far on the trajectory of Western economies. In my opinion, this book is aimed at people with a greater than average understanding of finance/economics and so provides a new way of looking at the economic theories that we were brought up on at university. Other books can be repetitive or spend too long presenting the basics, unlike this book which gets to the point succinctly.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising much but delivering less, 12 Jun. 2013
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
Frustrated by politicians' refusal to admit that western economies may be in permanent decline, and their wrangling over austerity versus stimulus as the key to restoring growth which may be a chimera, I leapt eagerly on King's topical book.

I like King's rejection of economists' recent preoccupation with obscure models, and his concern to take historical, political and social factors into account, although I think some of his analyses would make academics in these disciplines wince.

The most original aspects seem to be his comparisons between the current situation and previous events, such as the decline after a period of promising growth of both Argentina and Japan, the bubble of "subprime" investment in the original American railroads, or the crises of the 1990s from which "Tiger economies" like South Korea or Malaysia, recovered quickly owing to their lack of a sense of entitlement, or so the author claims.

His examination of the recent financial crisis is clear, but has already been well-covered elsewhere. Yet his approach to economic terms seems inconsistent: the "loss aversion" which occurs in periods of stagnation is defined at some length, but I am not aware that he explains at any point how bond yields work, or the difference between monetary and fiscal policies, all crucial to an understanding of the economy. A glossary of economic terms would have been useful.

There is a good deal of space-taking repetition and some of his observations seem unduly subjective and perhaps a little confused, such as frequent references to the guilty role of "baby boomers" who are "having their cake and eating it". Does he expect this group to opt for early euthanasia so they can hand their ill-gotten share of resources on to the next generation?

I was disappointed by his recommended policies, which are presented in a rather rushed and woolly fashion in the final chapter. Some, too complex to explain fully here, on say, rating creditors for the quality of their decisions, or setting up "fiscal clubs" or encouraging more mobility of labour seem too theoretical, taking little account of the realities of nationalism, democracy or the implications for local services. Other policies seem based on flimsy arguments: I am unconvinced that banks have been forced to pursue risky ventures promising higher profits by the need to subsidise such "social commitments" as ATMs, or telephone and internet banking services for small savers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.”, 2 Oct. 2013
A well written and researched book that clearly explains the enormous hole the West has dug for itself.

If this topic concerns you then you will also love Mark Steyn's 'After America: Get ready for Armageddon', which it lighter on facts, but the humor and wit is unmatched. Both are great reads and highly necessary during this current crises of Western identity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good summary of where we are, 10 Jun. 2013
By 
N. Thorne - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
A nice summary of where we are today. Some good suggestions going forward. I only hope policy makers are reading this and can find a way to present it to the voters in a way that it has a chance of being implemented. Otherwise the inevitable 'selling off of the family silver' will make life increasingly hard for the younger generation. Plenty of mention of the baby boomers, called 'the selfish generation'.
Only three stars as in my opinion it doesn't go into enough depth on fixing the situation.
Here's an idea for a follow up: "Preventing democracies running up overdrafts".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The money is running out, 28 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
Very deep but mentally stimulating. We in Britain need to take note of what may happen in the future if our politicians do not get it right. I recommend this book to those who need to know what is happening and why the measures taken so far by the government have not been successful.
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4.0 out of 5 stars excellent analysis..., 16 Aug. 2013
By 
os - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
Stephen D. King has written a book whose central message is based around the idea that Western economies have got two major problems that essentially have to do with structural weakness and the delusional or to be kinder, naive beliefs and expectations of voters and government policy makers.

The first problem area is that governments and consumers who spend more then they generate in terms of receipts, productivity or sales of assets an only go so long before their money runs out, resulting ultimately in default and economic collapse. For borrowers that become over-dependent on financial markets to support their 'habits', they inevitably end up paying ever higher interest rates on loans as their dependency develops. There can only be one end to this story. The origins however of debt dependency are various: sustained and growing balance of payments deficits, falling exchange rates, low growth, poor productivity and ballooning government and consumer debt all help an economy sink. Sound familiar?

Second problem, governments understandably prefer borrowing to balancing the books. Keynes viewed fiscal policy as a means of increasing demand at intervals as required, not as a way of keeping the coma-bound economic patient alive despite the absence of life signs. Likewise, citizens like living the dream. They don't want savage wage cuts, sudden increases in unemployment or forms of enforced savings or rationing. They also like plenty of welfare and other benefits providing tax levels are not increased. All this is made worse by the fact that the old methods of fiscal and monetary manipulation don't work as well as once they did and in fact encourage the sort of behaviour (speculation, lack of investment and enterprise) that created the malaise in the first place.

'WTMRO' is a highly readable and very useful book for the student of economics or general reader. Making wide use of historical examples, charting the growth and set backs faced by various economies as empires have expanded and collapsed, asset bubbles formed and exploded and new technologies appeared. Of course central to all this process has been globalisation and the greater fluidity of capital throughout the world creating growth of trade, output and increased wealth. Sadly, as financial markets have developed and many Western countries have developed an appetite for debt and imports, so the ability of those governments and citizens to determine their own fate has drastically declined. Hence they become more vulnerable to currency speculation, runs on major banking and investment institutions and declining levels of investment and productivity.

The fact is, the author says, the emerging nations have sufficient mettle and the ambition to grow their economies, and when times are tough, retrench quickly. Such nimbleness is generally based around such governments using currency and capital-flow controls, elements of central planning and restrictions on citizen's rights in terms of wages and social security. The other big factor is that many Asian countries, particularly China have attempted to restrict or negate the influence of organisations such as the WTO in trying to enforce structural changes on their economies or social reform in return for funding. South Korea for instance built up competitive industries behind tariff barriers before deciding the global market.

So what solutions does the author have? Well, this perhaps is where the book could have done with a little more 'beef' in the economic sandwich. First of all he advocates that western societies have got to get rid of the culture of entitlement, complacency and dependency in social and business. This requires political courage not only in being truthful to the electorate but also in making sure that all citizens understand and accept that changes in the economy (wages / incomes/ profits) are necessary. By extension, governments have to build trust by ensuring that the resulting gains are not just enjoyed by the few and the losses borne by the many.

In addition, governments have to accept that markets and their participants cannot be readily controlled but the rules under which they operate can be adjusted to create socially useful gains. Governments also have to accept that they have to cooperate together, so that rescues can be arranged but more importantly, failures can be prevented in the first place. This requires greater governmental transparency, a willingness to give up a degree of sovereignty and funding. The gain is to achieve a far more stable macro environment for all participating countries. Perhaps most importantly is the notion that central banks should worry much less about inflation and concentrate on growth. So useful ideas in need of development.

The power of 'WTMRO' is that it makes the stark declaration that our current western economic malaise is not a cyclical issue; rather it is a structural issue. So, the problem of low growth and the ever present threat of inflation, is not about to go away because of a shot of QE or some fiddling with the tax system. A change of attitude is needed by governments, banks and citizens of the Eurozone, argues King. We really are in this together. The old rules and solutions don't work any more. The priority is to establish political dialogues and financial mechanisms to bring savers and borrowers more closely and less riskily together, so that we can all benefit.

'WTMRO' is a tightly argued, jargon free and thought provoking read. Light on policy solutions and a little to keen to special plead for bankers, but filled with many illuminating examples of historical economic events to bulk out and help give credibility to the direction of thought.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Important topic, worth buying, but significant weaknesses, 7 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
Any book trying to examine a low-growth economic future is worth checking out, especially when written by someone with proper understanding and a balanced view rather than an ideologue. Good too that he uses clear and straightforward language for a subject so potentially complex - although occasionally this veers into blandness.

The book has some excellent points in places - for example using historical comparisons to show that our prosperity since the 1950s is an exception rather than the norm and that there may well now be a reversion to low growth aside from occasional boosts from new technology. He is also enlightening talking about the nature of the current depression and its similarities and differences to those before, convincingly showing flaws in a number of other economists' arguments (in both the austerity and anti-austerity camps).

But having made these points, King spends so much of the book just repeatedly making the same rather bland assertions ("we did not live within our means" etc) that he squeezes out what should have been valuable analysis on how to actually start addressing the problem / organising things around this new economic reality. He dips into these at the end, and refreshingly does not pretend to have all the answers, but much more of this would have been welcome. Still, definitely glad I read it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay, 2 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
I did expect from S King a slightly more in depth and nuanced approach, especially since his style as a professional economist is very interesting and insightful. Therefore I was slghtly disappointed with shallowness of this book for someone following the current events from economic and political point of view.

This book is probably written for a wider audience, hence the level of detail is kept fairly superficial on purpose. Mr King could have writen a more elaborate story. Therefore professional investors and market watchers probably find this book slghtly flat reading, hence ***'s.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Agood wake-up call., 26 July 2013
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence (Hardcover)
If we,the pre-baby boomers ever thought that we were all going to have "It",that is money ever after,this is the book to bring you down to earth,Well written ,Lucid and very clear about what may well come to be. This is a book that opens up the real world to just how difficult life is going to get for our off-spring. There is no doubt that I have lived through a time of quite considerable luxury. The problem however is just what is going to happen next.As a "retYred" Surgeon, the fact that I had all of my training for free,albeit that I then worked 43 years in the NHS,i have grave doubts that the current Trainees will want to give all their time to the NHS after having to pay off a debt of some £40-50,000. If the British want a health Service free at the point of delivery,then-they are going too have to import the Doctors!
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When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence
When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence by Stephen D. King (Hardcover - 18 May 2013)
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