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Jimmy Stewart is Dead: Ending the World's Ongoing Financial Plague with Limited Purpose Banking Hardcover – 26 Feb 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (26 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470581557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470581551
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,535,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"Kotlikoff has presented a thought–provoking proposal that merits attention in the debate over financial regulation."
―Kenneth Silber,, March 2010

"Jimmy Stewart Is Dead makes for provocative reading. We certainly have squandered much of America′s business and economic strength in the pursuit of personal gain and huge if not obscene bonuses. … It might just be easier to find another Jimmy Stewart. I′d call him Mr. Smith. And I′d ask him to go to Washington."
―Philip Moeller, U.S. News & World Report

"Kotlikoff grabs us by the collar, brilliantly unveiling the truth about our financial system. With scintillating arguments, vivid examples, and terrific wit, he offers a powerful reform that stops banks from gambling and restricts them to their legitimate purpose, ′connecting borrowers to lenders and savers to investors.′ This is economics at its very best: deeply insightful and powerfully useful. It will change the global debate."
―JEFFREY SACHS, Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Development and Health Policy, Columbia University

"Financial reform needs something simple, clear, and, most of all, effective. Read this book to get and understand the answer."
―GEORGE SHULTZ, Distinguished Fellow, the Hoover Institution, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and former U.S. Secretary of State

"At last! A real financial page–turner. Kotlikoff calls out the bad actors behind the financial crisis and nails them cold. But he also tells us how to prevent it from happening again. It′s called Limited Purpose Banking. Anyone can read this book―and everyone should."
―SCOTT BURNS, Financial Columnist, Universal Press Syndicate

"Jimmy Stewart Is Dead is a page–turner, as fast–paced as The Simpsons, with new insights on every page. As fun as it is, Jimmy Stewart is also deadly serious. It describes our deep financial problems and offers an amazingly simple financial fix to prevent an even worse crash. Everyone should read this book."
―GEORGE AKERLOF, Koshland Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley, Nobel laureate in Economics

"Kotlikoff′s book makes an impassioned, coherent, and convincing case for Limited Purpose Banking."
―ROBERT E. LUCAS, Jr., John Dewey Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, Nobel laureate in Economics

"This book is ′must′ reading for everyone who cares about the future of the American economy."?
―ROBERT W. FOGEL, Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago, Nobel laureate in Economics

"Kotlikoff is right. Unless we institute fundamental reforms, there will be an even greater crisis. This well–written book is a must–read for those concerned with reforming the financial system."
―EDWARD C. PRESCOTT, W. P. Carey Chair in Economics, Arizona State University, Nobel laureate in Economics

"Certainly we need to abandon today′s hazardous financial system. Kotlikoff′s Limited Purpose Banking plan is one of the best visions to surface so far."
―EDMUND PHELPS, McVickar Professor of Political Economy, Columbia University, Nobel laureate in Economics

‘…a thought–provoking new book…’ (Financial Times, April 2010). ‘[A] detailed description of what he sees as the banking system of the future…a plausible roadmap for how to get there…’ (Financial World, July/August 2010). ′[Kotlikoff′s] arguments for protecting deposits by banning banks from lending money not matched in cash reserves is compelling.′ (The Independent, February 2010). ′Kotlikoff′s work is worth a read...′ (The Observer, March 2010).

From the Inside Flap

Make no mistake, Jimmy Stewart, the honest, trustworthy banker (a.k.a. George Bailey) in It′s a Wonderful Life, is dead. And so is his small–town, virtuous bank―Bailey Savings and Loan. Today, a very different financial movie, It′s a Horrible Mess, is playing on Main Street. This economic horror show―produced by Wall Street and directed by Congress―is no Christmas story, but a tale of pervasive and massive financial malfeasance that has devastated the lives of millions of people around the globe.

Though our financial system lies in tatters and economic misery stalks the land, the horrible mess is far from over. Uncle Sam, who aided and abetted the financial fraud, is working overtime to restore a financial system that′s virtually designed for hucksters, that no one can trust, and that towers on a bed of sand.

Uncle Sam′s strategy is Wall Street′s―borrow short, place risky bets, make financial commitments you can′t possibly keep, and let no one see precisely what you′re doing. The sums involved are enormous and have leveraged us and our children far beyond our capacity to pay. Sam′s bluff has put our economy at grave economic risk. Without the right financial fix, the global financial plague will strike again with even more devastating force.

Written by Laurence Kotlikoff―one of the world′s most respected economists―Jimmy Stewart Is Dead describes in lively, but deadly serious terms the big con underlying the big game: namely the web of interconnected financial, political, and regulatory misconduct that culminated in financial meltdown and brought us to our economic knees. It′s a tragic story that starts with our economic disaster and where it′s headed, describes its causes, identifies its architects, and then shows how to fix the system for good.

Throughout the book, Kotlikoff not only surveys the disheartening events surrounding our economic collapse, but also conveys their deeper economic meaning, particularly the extraordinary danger of maintaining the financial status quo. Along the way, he proposes Limited Purpose Banking (LPB)―a straightforward and easily implemented plan to make Wall Street safe for Main Street. Featured in the Financial Times, Forbes, the New Republic, Bloomberg, and other top media, LPB transforms all financial corporations into pass–through mutual companies that can never fail, never leverage the taxpayer, and never sell fraudulent securities. LPB is the first and only proposal that could fundamentally end our enduring financial plague and restore economic prosperity.

Whether or not you agree with Kotlikoff′s conclusion, you′ll find his analysis of the crisis and his simple solution a true economic eye–opener. Indeed, Jimmy Stewart Is Dead will fundamentally change the way you think about the economy, financial markets, the government, and the safest way to shape our economic future.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think his ideas for reform fall down because they rely on regulators being fair-minded and impartial. Some might suggest if the existing regulators were fair-minded and impartial we wouldn't have had the credit crunch or the current foreclosure crisis and we wouldn't be staring headlong into a financial abyss of a kind the world has never seen. So from that POV his book's a bit of a dead loss. He's an insider though and he knows where at least some of the bodies are buried. He's happy to tell you too, but at the end of the day despite his protestations to the contrary you end up feeling he can't go too much against the industry that earns him his living. It's an interesting book but I feel there are no solutions here.
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Format: Hardcover
There's no use pining for the good old days - "It's a Wonderful Life" was just a Hollywood movie, the town of Bedford Falls doesn't really exist and Jimmy Stewart is long gone. But earth-shattering economic tumult has a way of evoking nostalgia for the return of (what you think were) simpler, more honest fiscal times. Economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff delivers a salty, sometimes irreverent, but ultimately convincing remedy to cure you of the erroneous belief that banking should return to the past to make up for the sins of the present. He competently lays out his concept of how "limited purpose banking" would work while hoisting on their own petard the crafty bankers, sinister lenders and obfuscating bureaucrats who nearly crashed the economy. getAbstract recommends Kotlikoff's original interpretation of events resulting from the 2008 crisis and his exposition of the far-reaching solution he offers, but quibbles over just one point: George Bailey ran the Bailey Building and Loan, not the Bailey Savings and Loan.
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I read this book as I was researching the issue of universal banking for a work project. If you want an insightful, objective assessment of the cause of the financial crisis... this isn't it. The author seeks to argue that limited purpose banking would solve the 'problem' of the financial sector. The main problem with this book is its drenched with banker bashing. Kotlikoff thinks bankers are crooks. Much of the book is devoted to it. But there's no real substance. All of which makes it quite hard to take any of his points seriously. If you want to read about the crisis I would instead recommend "Too big to fail" by Andrew Ross Sorkin.
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