This weekend I finally got the chance to settle down with Barry Ritholtz’s new book Bailout Nation. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of his blog, The Big Picture. No voice resonates with both Wall St. and Main St. more powerfully. Before I tell you what the book is, I’ll tell you what it is not (and why I lead with Dammit!). It is not a 300-page rant, which makes me sad because the man has a gift:
As to the crappy derivatives that Phony and Fraudy bought when they thought of themselves as giant hedge funds — the first person in government that suggests taxpayer money be used to cover those losses, I will personally feed into a wood chipper . . . Feet first . . . Slowly.
Still gives me goosebumps. And while I would gladly read a book of imaginative threats, the demographics might be limited.
Bailout Nation walks the reader down the ever-widening path of moral hazard that America is on, succinctly and objectively. And while blame is placed on those responsible, the surprising thrust of the book is hope, not condemnation. Ritholtz reminds us that capitalism is a wonderful system, and interfering with the brutal aspects of creative destruction is creating a “worst of both worlds” hybrid. Changes in regulation and ideologies impact on the past and present are chronicled in a way that reads effortlessly (I’d have used more f-bombs).
The last chapter, “Advice to a New President” is particularly thought-provoking. It is a collection of truly fresh ideas from a variety of sources (Doug Kass and Dylan Ratigan to name but two) on ways to secure a better future for America.
This stands in stark contrast to my concept of what the last chapter should have been: “Home Addresses of these Pricks”. I’d also have used the book to merchandise “Ritholtz” brand torches, pitchforks, bats and anything else I could think of.
So Bailout Nation, while not the manifesto I was hoping for, stands tall as both a look back at lessons we should have learned from and map to get back on track. More info Bailoutnation.net
To those of you looking for good rant however, I highly recommend this guy: