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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 15 months ago by l b

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay
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...
Published 11 months ago by jukka


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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 9 May 2014
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Another great book by Stephen King. I just hope some of his predictions turn out to be too pessimistic. If not ' we are doomed' !!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Adjusting expectations, 9 Dec 2013
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out (Kindle Edition)
Maybe never ending increases in economic prosperity are a good thing...
But it leads to democratic governments seducing voters with their eventually unaffordable largesse...
And those expectations are very hard to adjust...
The transition is going to be painful for the entire developed western world...
It will involve the overthrow of governments and bankruptcy of countries...
But which ones and when?
Can democratic governments retain power long enough to enact those changes or does effective or turbulent change transition the structures over several generations?
Persuasive analysis of the fault lines but quite reasonably only broad sweep generalisations about the future..
However that's the environment in which we have to place our bets about what to be invested in, where to live, etc!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Important topic, worth buying, but significant weaknesses, 7 Sep 2013
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars excellent analysis..., 16 Aug 2013
By 
os - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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 Balanced approach, 12 Aug 2013
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Well written by an accomplished economist, with real life experience of the 2008 financial crisis. Its an easy read with relevant examples.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than "Losing Control", 1 Aug 2013
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A copy should be given to everyone who attends the BBC's Questiontime. An antidote to those who think money grows on trees and the State should continue to spend money it does not have.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Agood wake-up call., 26 July 2013
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Requires Commitment to Complete Reading It, 22 July 2013
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A thorough review of world economics seen through the eyes of a highly qualified economist. Inevitably there is quite a lot of repetition but the messages come through loud and clear - that there is a cycle of economics here that not many economists understand and no politician does. How it will all go over the next 20 years is the worry. Perhaps coming up big on the Lottery is the only escape!
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5.0 out of 5 stars When Money Runs Out, 6 July 2013
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This review is from: When the Money Runs Out (Kindle Edition)
Easily understandable; very little economic jargon. Liked his historical facts, quoting 'de Tocqueville'. Should be required reading for so-called top economists
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4.0 out of 5 stars required read, 2 July 2013
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An excellent book which lays out in quite some detail both the economic and political turmoil that faces the global economy. It also unveils the deceit behind many of the recent platitudes uttered by politicians keen to maintain political survival in the teeth of what is a major turning point for western economies in particular. I would argue that students studying any meaningful degree programme at masters level and above in the areas of business and economics should have this book as a required read since the implications of what King spells out affect each and everyone of us now, and for some time to come.
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When the Money Runs Out by Stephen D. King
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