Brief review - "Empire of Debt" by Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin

Discussion in 'Educational Resources' started by Chagi, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. Chagi


    This mini-review is going to sound fairly negative, but I just finished reading "Empire of Debt" by Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin, and I have to say that I wasn't terribly impressed. My two largest gripes with this book are that it focuses far too much on politics, and that I didn't really learn anything by reading it.

    Regarding the former, this book is probably a good read if you are looking for a detailed account of the last 100 years or so of American economic history, as well as its political history. The pros and cons of various presidents are discussed extensively, as well as the merits (or lack thereof) of the various wars that America chose to become involved in. I'm a Canadian, so this particular gripe from me could be based on my nationality, but I'm afraid that I'm not particularly interested in many of the details of American politics. This book comes across to me as being extremely opinionated about various key political figures (Bush, Bernanke, Greenspan, etc.).

    My second gripe might not be entirely fair, in that I already understood many of the issues discussed in the book prior to reading it. The reason I state that I could be being unfair is that I've covered much of this material previously, either in university, or through my own private reading. This book could be a good book to read if you know little about economics, and it is certainly more approachable than reading Shiller (since Shiller assumes that you already have at least a basic knowledge of economics).

    For those that have not read it yet, when the book is not providing a detailed history of failures in American decision making (according to the authors), it basically lays out a very Shiller-esque argument. Yes, we're talking irrational exuberance, particularly in the housing market. The book does contain some interesting graphs, particularly the ones showing the dramatically rising consumer debt of the past 5-10 years.

    While I am personally becoming quite bearish regarding real estate, I guess my beef with this book is that it is essentially nothing new. I expected to gain some insights from this book, but it merely contained the arguments of other people, particularly Schiller. I did however greatly enjoy the finance humour found in the "glossary" at the end of the book. :)

    The above said, has anyone else read this book and would like to comment on it?