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Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis [Paperback]

William Bonner , Addison Wiggin
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 20 2006
In Empire of Debt, maverick financial writers Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin provide you with the first in-depth look at how the American character has shifted to accommodate its new imperial role; how we have abandoned the private virtues of personal liberty, economic freedom, and fiscal restraint; and how the government has gained control of public life and the economy.


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Many Americans have resisted the notion that their country is an imperial power. The idea seems to contradict the values of the Republic and its Founding Fathers. But in Empire of Debt, prominent financial analysts Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin argue passionately that not only is the United States an empire, but it is also one whose end is coming soon. Bonner and Wiggin are the brains behind www.dailyreckoning.com, an iconoclastic and irreverent market advisory service that has long raised concerns about American indebtedness and warned of a looming dollar crisis. In Empire of Debt, a sequel to their earlier doom-and-gloom book Financial Reckoning Day, they elaborate on their argument that the U.S. economy is about to implode.

Bonner and Wiggin enumerate a long list of chronic ailments that imperil the American financial system--a massive trade deficit, soaring personal and government debt, a housing bubble, runaway military expenditures. These problems "hardly disturb the sleep of the imperial race," the authors write. "[But] all empires must pass away." Bonner and Wiggin argue that American imperial delusions are similar to the fantasies that fueled the dot-com market mania. They recommend readers buy gold as insurance in the event of a financial crisis. Empire of Debt flounders when discussing how America indebted itself; the authors blame the Federal Reserve Board's low interest rates but gloss over the fact that rates were slashed because the U.S. teetered on the brink of deflation in 2002 and 2003. As hardcore libertarians, Bonner and Wiggin also seem to long for the pre-welfare days of the 1920s but forget how that period's policies led to the Great Depression. That said, Empire of Debt contains many revelations that will open eyes. --Alex Roslin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

" The doom mongering is leavened with some waspishly witty writing" ("Daily Telegraph," 6th December 2005)

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Customer Reviews

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New Dimensions of Imperial Stupidity July 15 2006
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I have been a reader of The Daily Reckoning for some time. I didn't expect any new material in Empire of Debt, but I was interested to see how some of my favorite themes were tied together into a book as opposed to an e-letter.

The results are mildly amusing, unsurprising and about as deep as the water on my windshield during a mild drizzle.

The whole book could have been easily summarized into a brief article. But it wouldn't have been as funny.

Here are the key points:

1. Any leader with the power to act imperial will.

2. Most emperors were smart enough to make a profit from the empire.

3. The American empire loses lots of money and makes less economic sense than any other empire in recent memory.

4. American economic policies will lead to an astonishingly rapid decline in the value of the American dollar.

5. American assets are tremendously overpriced and will either fall in price or remain at current price levels for a long time.

6. Buy gold.

If any of those points are new to you, you will probably think this is a four or five star book. Clearly, the authors understand that they are looking at an economic disaster in the making. The book would have been greatly improved by providing more advice about how to improve matters or to profit from them.

I would say that you could skip this book if you already understand those lessons, but the humor is well done. It would be a shame to miss the sections praising "do-nothing" presidents.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars provocative and important June 19 2006
Format:Hardcover
Great warning to a proud nation that now faces huge financial crises. Worth read. But its analysis is not that strong on new global development. For a more insightful book on a changing global economic map, I recommend: China's global reach: markets, multinationals, and globalization by a Chinese journalist George Zhibin Gu, which offers vast cutting-edge ideas about changing China in relation to global development.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up and Smell the Globalization June 4 2006
Format:Hardcover
The majority of people who will read this book are already concerned with the state of financial condition of this continent...but the vast majority of those of Canadians & Americans who need to know what Bonner imparts may never get the message. I read this book because of my worries about the highly leveraged nature of these nations.

A frightening number of articles in world business journals state lately that China does not consider America (or Canada)to be an economic factor in the period beyond 2016. That is only 10 years away!

Maybe we can still do something to stop the China steamroller.

This book repeats past other nations problems with debt. Bonner is trying to drive home a point; debt is toxic. I sort of wish he would show that everybody is responsible for the debt instead of blaming governments and outsourcing.

Speaking of outsourcing, I also highly recommend Brown & Wilson's THE BLACK BOOK OF OUTSOURCING: HOW TO MANAGE THE CHANGES, CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES (Wiley Publishers, 2005) as it teaches, enlightens and prepares you for the changing world economy. You'll be a better business person for knowing what most are blaming and therefore losing ground. Another 5 star book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Overview Of The Current Financial Crisis Sept. 14 2009
By Patrick Sullivan TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I read this back in 2006, before the you know what hit the fan. Bonner and Wiggin break down all the massive economic mismanagement into a readable form. They give many examples from past debt explosions, and what the results turned out to be. They spell out in detail, why having trillions of dollars in debt can lead to big problems. They also explain how earlier American borrowing was used to develop productive assets. Today people mortgage their house to buy a new plasma TV.
This book will help explain all the current economic problems. You will find answers to problems, that you will never see in the media. This book is not a dull economic textbook type of read. Its fun to read, and the information is extremely important.
I also highly recommend Mobs, Messiahs, And Markets, by Bonner and Rajiva.
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