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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative thinking in economics, for once!, 23 Oct 2012
By 
Duncan R. McKeown "Mozartian" (Norwich, Norfolk UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bubble and Beyond (Paperback)
I have seen Michael Hudson interviewed on television on several occasions, and have always been impressed with his depth of understanding of the causes, and possible remedies, for the global economic crisis. It is wonderful to see a major work of his now in print. The disturbing fact that he has been ignored to such an extent by mainstream (read monetarist/neoclassical) economic reviews is scandalous, and speaks volumes about the supposed devotion to the scientific method in economics. Is conventional economics, as taught in most universities, a science at all when it ignores such empirical evidence as Hudson provides of its weaknesses?
This book is full of valuable insights from what Hudson would call the 'other economic canon'. This 'blast from the past' contains, for example, the challenging ideas of Adam Smith's nearly forgotten contemporaries like James Steuart, and a refresher course on the strategy of industrial banking so effective in Bismarck's Germany, which seems highly relevant to contemporary banking reform. The discussion of the neglected warnings (at least since the classical and Marxist schools of the 19th century...with the possible recent exception of the late Hyman Minsky) about compound interest effects in debt servicing bringing down a capitalist boom economy is particularly enlightening, bearing in mind the dire situation in Greece, Spain and Italy.
Thoroughly recommended...with one minor criticism. This book, perhaps because it was printed by a small publishing house, perhaps because it was rushed into print, appears to have been proof read by chimpanzees (and not the ones which are typing out the complete works of Shakespeare!). This is annoying, but the 'typos' don't detract one iota from the superb content. This treatise is an education in its own right, and should be supplied to all university economics students in their first year as an antidote to the disease of narrow-mindedness...preferably in a revised edition!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bubble and Beyond, 18 Dec 2012
By 
Steve (By DUNDEE Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bubble and Beyond (Paperback)
Michael Hudson may be a familiar figure to those of you who are either baffled or infuriated by the ongoing financial crisis. He can be found on his website, or sometimes on Max Keiser's show, denouncing the current economic mess. He always comes across as slightly exasperated, like a man who has been stuck in a traffic jam all day, and no wonder. Hudson talks sense in a world gone mad. This book is an excellent tirade against the follies of mainstream policy and economic theory. It's a lengthy book: its very badly proofread and unnecessarily repetitive, but sheds plenty of light on the financial crisis, and will help the reader to read between the lines of what is said in the mainstream media.

Central to Hudson's argument is that modern economic theory has abolished the distinction between productive and unproductive wealth, ie. tangible wealth and wealth extracted via rent, monopoly and capital gains. This is extremely important, since it renders the rentier class (who one never hears of anymore- I wonder why) as invisible (Hudson paraphrases Baudelaire, who wrote that the biggest trick the devil ever played was to convince the world that he didn't exist).

You may think that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but there is, and Hudson explains in detail why this is so. The tax system is structured in favour of property, finance and insurance (the suitably titled FIRE sector), and weighted against industry. The result is disaster: instead of `creating wealth,' the financial sector simply issues credit which is used to push up asset prices (mainly property), raising the cost of living, increasing the debt burden (as people borrow more to buy a home). This leads to what he calls `debt deflation': people paying down debts instead of buying goods and services. The upshot is that instead of paying taxes to the government, you are simply paying the banks instead. And you can't vote for banks.

There is no way out of this impasse, except to write off the debts: which is a fundamentally political decision, not an economic one, as mainstream thinking tells us. Do we continue to ruin the economy by insisting on paying down unpayable debts, or do we save the economy at the expense of the creditor class? That is the question facing us, and the consequences could be dire. Hudson takes a broad historical view, and reminds us that the Roman Empire fell as a consequence of the creditor class refusing to write off debts owed.

There are excellent chapters here on the complex history of economic thought, the woeful limitations of macroeconomic theory, and the insane Alice in Wonderland world of finance and equity funds. If you like Hudson, but want to know more detail, then the book is worth reading. The only let-down is the lack of proofreading. There is no index or bibliography either (which perhaps says more about the current state of the publishing industry). The book is very repetitive, as each chapter was written as a separate essay, and tends to repeat some of the main points over and over again. This is a shame, because Hudson writes well, and has a learned, gently sardonic way of expressing his anger at the unnecessary misery caused by austerity. More seriously, Hudson has a very important message for all of us: austerity need not, and should not happen. This should be the rallying call of the 99% in the face of the cynicism of the TINAs (There Is No Alternative).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book reaches the parts other books try to avoid., 17 May 2014
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This review is from: The Bubble and Beyond (Paperback)
As a non-university-educated, non-intellectual, non-philosopher, member of the general public, I approached this book with low expectation of understanding the technical mumbo jumbo intellectual language generally used in this type of book. Much to my surprise I understood a surprising amount of it. The subject theme is DEBT. It sounds boring... not the way this book explains it. The title implies it’s about the credit crunch etc. In reality it’s a history of economics. Sounds boring... not the way this book explains it. I have read a number of books about the credit crunch... they are rubbish compared with this one. The others left me confused... this one didn’t. Want to understand the reasons behind WW1 and WW2, read this book. Want to understand why America got involved in WW1and WW2, read this book. Want to understand why the economy hasn’t recovered after the credit crunch... yes... read this book. Want to understand why it will never recover... ever... read this book. Even if you’re as thick as two short planks... read this book... it’s brilliant... you will never believe a word that comes out of a politician’s mouth... ever again.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 2 Aug 2013
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An excellent analysis of the problems of trying to maintain an interest based economic system. This book should be required reading for all economics students, bankers, politicians and anyone with an interest in what is wrong with our current financial system: it doesn't work, never will and is bound to fail - and this book explains why.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting though cumbersome, 15 Oct 2013
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The book introduces an interesting view on the financialisation of our economies, just a pity that it is so cumbersomely written.
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The Bubble and Beyond
The Bubble and Beyond by Michael Hudson (Paperback - 1 July 2012)
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