|Perseus Books Group|
the guardian Sat 07 March 2009
Two trillion dollars, and US trillions at that, seems a bit cheap for the bottom line of the current mess, but then Charles Morris finished this book in late 2007, when governments believed disaster was containable; his addendum advances as far as October 2008, still blithe when compared with this past Monday. Yet the strength of his narrative is less in the recent history (we've all now grasped the mutually assured bankruptcy inherent in casual credit financing preposterous levels of leverage), than in his vanishing perspective. He's been around the tills long enough to recall the "complacent incompetence" of US manufacturing in the 1960s near the end of the liberal consensus. Richard Nixon welshed on the Bretton Woods commitment to redeem dollars in gold at a fixed price, and Paul Volcker of the US Treasury vanquished the resultant inflation in the early 80s - the destruction of much of the west's blue-collar employment was just collateral damage. And he locates the initial puff in every subsequent bubble.