I wonder whether some of the people who wrote reviews of this book in 2006 would have been more generous with their praise if they were writing their reviews today.
I was just reading through his chapter 4 on what the depression will look like and the predictions he made for the present time frame are a virtual carbon copy of the actual headlines in the financial news of this year.
Some criticized his great specificity of predictions. That is indeed a very risky thing to do. I would be satisfied with a book that made predictions of a much more general nature if I found that it had done a decent job of anticipating the general trends in the economy.
But Mr. Brussee insisted on making a whole slew of very specific predictions. And guess what, the vast majority of what he predicted for the present time frame has come to pass!
Brussee appears to me to be one of a number of people who have independently come to similar conclusions about where the economy is headed. Although there is a great deal of commonality in the beliefs of these people (e.g., the central role that an ever-expanding spiral of debt has in creating the economic woes we now face), I find it interesting that this what now probably should be referred to as a "contemporary school of economic thought", did not arise from a bunch of inbred cronies in some ideologically-permeated academic institutions, but instead has emerged from a bunch of disparate individuals within our society who share one common characteristic- an unwillingness to accept the spoon-fed economic notions of the "don't worry be happy" (DWBH) school of economics that dominates the financial media, an establishment epitomized by the likes of Larry "King Dollar" Kudlow.
I am very pleased that the renegades have a wonderful media outlet for their particular perspective, namely Jim Puplava and John Loeffler's financialsense.com. (and, financialsense also provides an outlet for a considerable diversity of views, although you won't see many articles posted there by adherents to the DWBH school of economics, but no need for that since they have the entire rest of the financial media to get their point of view out.
There is a lot of financial commentary today by the "renegades" (perhaps the best term for them is the "sound money" advocates, alhthough that is only one attribute of this economic philosophy, it seems to be the one most consistently a part of those in this (loosely-defined) group.)
However, one thing to keep in mind with Mr. Brussee's writing:
HE WROTE THIS BACK IN 2004, FOR GOD'S SAKE!
I was not following the financial writings back then that I am today, but I am confident that there was very little being written at that time with the clarity, detail, and foresight, of this book.
When I think about: "What have I learned from this book that is new?"
The concept that Brussee espouses that is most new to me is the contention that the credit crisis has been building for the past couple of decades and that the US would have been in a depression in the 1990's if it had not been for the artificial stimulus of consumer debt expansion.
I always thought our current economic crisis began with the tech bubble.
But I find Brussee's hypothesis on the matter to be persuasive.
Now there have been reviews complaining about the latter part of the book and all the graphs and stuff. Thank you for those reviews. I think I will probably not bother to read the rest of the book.
So how can I give it 5 stars? Because part I of the book, if it were a standalone book, would be worthy of 5 stars. If you feel you must judge the entire book, I encourage you to tear out pages 85 and beyond first and then judge the full book.
The one other substantive matter I wanted to bring up is that some reviews commented on the lack of investment advice in how to deal with the depression, and also the author's affinity for treasury protected securities.
I don't feel there is any obligation for such a book to include investment advice. The opposite extreme I guess would be the book "Profit from the Peak" about peak oil, which is really a tutorial about peak oil much more so than a guide to investing in a peak oil world.
(by the way, the author's foresight was evident also in the chapter "What Else May Trigger the Depression" which included a very prescient discussion of the risk of high energy prices.)
Where was I? Oh yes, treasury protected securities. Unless the author discusses it in part II, one thing he does not assert in the book is the belief held by most SM advocates that the government's formulas for inflation tend to understate what would be calculated under a more meaningful and relevant definition of inflation. Hence, treasury protected securities are probably nearly as worthless garbage as regular treasury bonds.
So, there are my two criticisms of the book:
1). Part II looks so dry, and I have been forewarned about it, that I am not even going to read it.
2). Author does not express contempt for the government's inflation numbers.
Other than that, this was in my view one OUTSTANDING book.
One other thought about the question of investment advice: If the author indeed has done a good job of predicting the economic trends going into 2020, then it should be possible for one to translate that into specific investment decisions without explicit advice on what to invest in.
In fact, specific investment advice may be risky. In the book "Profit from the Peak" the authors for example recommend US oil refiners who can handle heavy sour crude. However, oil producing nations like Saudi Arabia whose new production will increasingly be of the lower grade "heavy sour" variety are interested in building refineries themselves so that they can generate more of the revenue from their oil and provide more domestic jobs.
But, I do have one piece of investment advice which is forget about Treasury Protected Securities as any sort of safe haven in an inflationary depression.