on 10 August 2006
I have developed a lot of respect for Roger Bootle over the last few years as he is one of the only people that I have heard talk any sense with regard to the property market. I was also aware of his previous book, 'The Death of Inflation', which was derided by the consensus when published, and is now heralded as prophetic.
Here he takes a very wide look at the world's current and future economic position. He does this brilliantly. The book is well structured, entertaining and you do not need an economics degree to benefit from it. His arguments are well put together and highly convincing, so much so that by the end of the book you forget that he has been only talking about his predictions not facts.
It is also the first book I have read that tackles the economic dichotomy we presently face. On the one hand there are massive imbalances in the economy; record debt levels, trade deficits and asset bubbles. And on the other hand, an enormous opportunity presented by technology and globalisation. His conclusion is basically that things are going to be very rough in the short term, but the long term will bring 'superabundance' for us all.
Mr Bootle goes against the crowd again in this book and I am sure he will attract a lot of criticism. If the experience of his last book is repeated, those same people will be lauding his views as self evident in a few years time.
on 14 September 2005
A decade ago, economist Roger Bootle won respect for correctly predicting a long period of low inflation. In this wide-ranging look at the world economy, Bootle trades on that credibility to explain the origins of the dot-com bubble and to argue that the economy is in the midst of a housing bubble. He makes the convincing argument that stock-market gains are often little more than ephemera and he explores the idea of a knowledge-based economy. Bullish readers will be put off by Bootle's gloom and doom. Deflation has yet to occur, and the housing bubble he harps on has yet to burst in the time span since this work's publication. Still, we recommend this intriguing title to investors interested in a contrarian view of the markets and the economy.
on 29 April 2005
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (2003), ISBN: 1857882822
"Money for Nothing" is a somewhat controversial book written by the (London) City economist Roger Bootle. The author is a well known doomsayer who regularly hits the headlines with predictions of impending deflation and housing price crashes, never mind stock market crashes.
I've never taken seriously any economist spouting opinions on the real estate market (always dramatic, always wrong - witness the numerous press articles and parroting real estate agents), let alone about deflation. However, I've gradually become more concerned about deflation occurring in Europe and wanted to find out more about this dire economic condition and the remedial micro and macro action. I was hoping Bootle's book would offer an introduction to the topic. It did not disappoint.
Bootle's starting point is that we are at the edge of the abyss. Inflation has shrivelled to a mere shadow of its former self, or at least a shadow of the ogre central bankers and the economic press still hold it to be, and Japan has been long mired in deflation. The latest assessment of the Japanese central bank (April 2005) suggests this will continue until at least 2007. Germany is, possibly, not far off.
An economic collapse of Western Europe is therefore no longer unthinkable. Indeed, it could be a consequence of the Dollar, Yen and Yuan dropping against the Euro as a consequence of the current imbalances in trade accounts. The resulting breakdown in (European) competitiveness could lead to calamities such as housing price crashes, stock market crashes and deflation. Bootle's analysis suggests the ECB, and its "member" banks, should initiate counterdeflationary measures resulting in massive liquidity injections into the monetary system coupled to free trade and (labour) market deregulation.
The combined effect would be to stimulate consumer expenditure globally whilst kickstarting the wealth spiral for all nations on Earth. The author then proceeds to expand on his vision of the future, a world in which developed, developing and underdeveloped nations all rise to new levels of (relative) wealth and development.
Obviously, this evolution will have its victims - notably the unskilled or uneducated in, mainly, Western Europe. Unless they get retrained, more generations of workers will be lost to our society whilst their descendants will have to reskill for new jobs created through the continuing economic development of our world. This development benefits from an increasing market (the populations of the developing and underdeveloped countries want their luxuries too, we supply them at first, they then do, we devise something better and new etc.) and rising living standard which affords our populations more spending power.
In theory, this sounds fine. In practice, this may be somewhat naïve. The model requires inter alia unfettered free international trade - a proposal requiring a strong dose of political will in times where many special interest groups ask (and obtain) favours such as protection through tariff barriers. Anti-globalisation groups, and their silent supporters in the working populations of many West European nations (e.g. José Bové in France) are but another (sizable) political obstacle
However, I feel encouraged that deflation is not necessarily the end of time for Europe. It is a major challenge, one that will have a high social cost with the concurrent social and political upheavals (riots, crime, war?), but one that can also be addressed through education, innovation and judicious politics.
The author also provides in the process advice to investors as to which goods/services will be in demand in such a scenario and will benefit from (real term) price rises - land, well located property etc. A conclusion that will, undoubtedly, surprise some readers of Mr Bootle's regular public missives.
All in all, this book provided me with a good introduction to the deflation subject and nicely complemented it by a review of the globalisation/free trade discussion related to it. I share the author's aspirations for our world, but am somewhat sceptic as to the developments leading up to this. I consider this book a worthwhile read for economists, investors and readers with Renaissance man ambitions. For the latter, the wide scope bibliography contained in the end notes to the book is worth a read.
on 8 March 2006
Roger Bootle’s book is an excellent read. This should be compulsory reading for everyone.
Part One deals with the wealth illusion. Bootle sets out with showing us some of the consequences resulting from the bursting of the stock market bubble in the late 1990s. There is also an excellent section on “our pensions” or shall we say the lack thereof, which should be a chilling read for quite a few of us. He follows this up with the fallacies of the on-going property boom. Whether we are on the verge of a prolonged deflation period is debatable, but Bootle offers some compelling arguments why this may be the case. And he does show quite in detail what would happen to the various factors of the economy during such a period.
Bootle’s blueprint for wealth creation is explained in Part Two. You will find that he is in favour of globalisation – if you are against it you should still read this book if only to find out what you are missing.
In Part Three, Bootle sets out his vision of the future including the future of finance, the winners and losers in business, what life will be like and the purpose of work, effort and money. Rather intriguing all that. I found it quite possible that the future will turn out this way provided that the Governments of this world let us develop a global economy for the greater common good. The potential obstacles in getting there also find a place in Bootle’s book.
This is a very good book. I enjoyed every minute reading it.