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Ukyo Katayama "Ukyo" (London, UK)

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All The Devils Are Here: Unmasking the Men Who Bankrupted the World
All The Devils Are Here: Unmasking the Men Who Bankrupted the World
by Bethany McLean
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read - but would have been good to have more analysis of monetary causes, 17 Mar. 2012
This is an interesting book that's written in an engaging and lively manner. It's very good on the nitty-gritty of what went wrong at banks, mortgage companies, Fannie and Freddie, and government regulatory agencies - but in my view, doesn't focus enough attention on how the Federal Reserve's monetary policies contributed to the crisis.

The authors are aware of how easy money encouraged risky lending, and even state at one point that the subprime boom was triggered "by Alan Greenspan's decision to push interest rates down to near historic lows during the first few years of the new century to keep the economy from faltering." So considering that they recognise the importance of this, it would have been good if they could have devoted a little more space to an examination of how easy money encourages the kind of malinvestment which typified the housing boom in America and other countries.

Without more historical discussion of the Fed's role as an engine of inflation - be it in the 1920s, 1960s, or early 2000s - people will tend to miss the forest for the trees as far as the financial crisis is concerned.

The Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit from It: Make a Fortune by Investing in Gold and Other Hard Assets
The Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit from It: Make a Fortune by Investing in Gold and Other Hard Assets
by James Turk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.60

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A prophetic warning, 8 April 2011
It's not looking good for the dollar. Lower and lower it falls against other currencies, just as gold and silver prices move relentlessly higher. Just 10 years ago, the Dollar Index (USDX) stood at just under 120. Since then it's been more or less continuously downhill for the greenback, and today the Dollar Index is just under 76 - not far from record lows.

This decline is all the more striking when one compares it with the bull market action in precious metals over the last decade. Though the dollar has perhaps the furthest to fall owing to its world reserve currency status, the truth is that all fiat currencies are failing, albeit at different rates.

This book predicted these problems and gave advice on how ordinary investors could protect themselves from the fallout.

Back in 2004 when it was first published, the gold price was around $400 per ounce. You could buy an ounce of silver for $6. Crude oil averaged $34 per barrel. Those who took the authors' advice and invested in hard assets have done very well over the last seven years.

But past returns are no guarantee of future performance. So what has changed since 2004? Could investors be staring at what many in the mainstream media are quick to call a "gold bubble", and could the dollar be ready to rise, Lazurus-like, from its grave?

To answer this some simple questions are in order. Has the US government eliminated its deficit? Has its total debt been declining? Are the largest states such as California, New York, Illinois, Texas and Florida running budget surpluses? And have the states and the Federal government found ways of funding the trillions of dollars-worth of pension and healthcare liabilities on their books?

Has the Federal Reserve under its new chairman Ben Bernanke parted ways with Alan Greenspan's inflationary policies? Has Ben Bernanke said he wants a strong dollar? And has the Federal Reserve ended its programme of quantitative easing (QE) and zero-interest rates that it enacted in response to the financial crisis of 2008?

Have the Fed and the US government kissed adios to the notion of banks being "too big to fail"? And have these banks suddenly found that the trillions and trillions-worth of OTC derivatives on their balance sheets are in fact worth trillions, and that they will never need another bailout?

Has the Fed said it will stop printing money?

Wise investors and savers know that the lessons from James Turk and John Rubino's book apply now more than ever.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2011 2:31 PM BST

Less Than Zero
Less Than Zero
by Bret Easton Ellis
Edition: Paperback

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I gave up half way through..., 12 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
And judging by other reviews, I didn't miss anything. Want to read about the inane lives of spoilt coked-up LA rich kids? Then this is the book for you. Or you could watch MTV for half an hour.

Economics in One Lesson
Economics in One Lesson
by Henry Hazlitt
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Says all that needs to be said, 1 Nov. 2009
This book is a great introduction to economics. Hazlitt's writing is concise and devoid of academic jargon. Although much of this book was written sixty years ago - though he did add some new stuff in the late seventies - his lesson is still very relevant. Sadly, governments seem incapable of heeding this advice.

Opportunity cost is perhaps the central theme of this book, or the fact that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Every benefit governments choose to dole out on our behalf has a cost and needs to be paid for out of the proceeds of production. If more people took account of these hidden costs and long-term consequences we'd live in a better world.

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