Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Read it critically.
on 19 April 2017
I picked this up after seeing Mark in a number of YouTube videos where he seemed articulate, clear headed, interesting, and most importantly; correct. So I came to this book with high expectations.
What I will say is that this is a very detailed historical account of a broad history surrounding the financial collapse and the context in which it occurred. Mark paints a clear picture, as I would have expected, that takes you easily through the events of interest.
Where I found myself disappointed was in how clearly biased Mark appears to be here regarding the 'authors' (so to speak) of the crash. Whilst his talks seem broadly (and I think correctly) critical of essentially all the institutions involved; here Mark seems to give several government actions a free pass.
Further more, there are several things that I can't help feel get characterised incorrectly, some of which I'll detail here. We have the issue characterised as a "black swan" which I think is clearly incorrect. Even characterising the crash purely in Mark's own terms this was not an unexpected event. In fact, it was the ONLY expected outcome. Regardless, I find "black swan"-arguments to be largely pointless where they are in fact correctly applied; how can you blame anyone for not predicting a truly unpredictable event? Secondly, his characterisations of particular views of markets expose clear biases I had not detected in his videos. Stating that certain theorists believed that markets would stay in "equilibrium", without boom and bust cycles, is simply flat out wrong. The differences in belief are typically more to do with frequency and magnitude. This is akin to suggesting that evolutionary theorists advocate that animals "evolve" once they reach final equilibrium in their "final" form. It's clear nonsense. Later still, Mark seems to put real weight behind the belief that wartime spending drives growth which, whilst argued by many Keynesian (or similar) economic theorists, is certainly not an accepted fact by any stretch. Rather more, it is the subject of quite some controversy.
All in all I actually found myself having to set the book down from time to time due to my disappointment and frustration with how clearly mischaracterised or misleading some sections are.
If you've come to this page for similar reasons to my initial ones then I'd say read the book. It's worth knowing more about the thoughts of an intellectual you enjoy listening too though they may detract from, rather than enhance, the image you have formed of them. Worth it either way in my opinion.