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Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy par [Rajan, Raghuram G.]
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Longueur : 283 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
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Raghuram Rajan was one of the few economists who warned of the global financial crisis before it hit. Now, as the world struggles to recover, it's tempting to blame what happened on just a few greedy bankers who took irrational risks and left the rest of us to foot the bill. In Fault Lines, Rajan argues that serious flaws in the economy are also to blame, and warns that a potentially more devastating crisis awaits us if they aren't fixed.

Rajan shows how the individual choices that collectively brought about the economic meltdown--made by bankers, government officials, and ordinary homeowners--were rational responses to a flawed global financial order in which the incentives to take on risk are incredibly out of step with the dangers those risks pose. He traces the deepening fault lines in a world overly dependent on the indebted American consumer to power global economic growth and stave off global downturns. He exposes a system where America's growing inequality and thin social safety net create tremendous political pressure to encourage easy credit and keep job creation robust, no matter what the consequences to the economy's long-term health; and where the U.S. financial sector, with its skewed incentives, is the critical but unstable link between an overstimulated America and an underconsuming world.

In Fault Lines, Rajan demonstrates how unequal access to education and health care in the United States puts us all in deeper financial peril, even as the economic choices of countries like Germany, Japan, and China place an undue burden on America to get its policies right. He outlines the hard choices we need to make to ensure a more stable world economy and restore lasting prosperity.

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  • Format : Format Kindle
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  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 283 pages
  • Editeur : Princeton University Press; Édition : With a New afterword by the author (8 août 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B005CQAJD0
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) (Peut contenir des commentaires issus du programme Early Reviewer Rewards) 4.3 étoiles sur 5 106 commentaires
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Analysis holds up well four years after publication 26 mai 2014
Par MT57 - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I am working my way through every book about the financial crisis of 2007-09 and finally got around to this, although I was familiar from secondary sources with the first of his theses -- that the crisis was caused in part by pro-home-mortgage-indebtedness policies the federal government sponsored for decades, across multiple administrations, as a way to keep the middle class and working class content as globalization and other forces put downward pressure on their wages and salaries, a thesis supported by the recent book "House of Debt" which came out while I was reading this one. Having read a good deal of these books, I have developed my own views, which happen to coincide with Rajan's , not merely the aforementioned thesis regarding federal governmental distortion of housing finance, but the others developed in this book, specifically the role of other nations' economic policies leading them to keep a constant appetite for US debt instruments, and so I approached this favorably disposed, and I was not disappointed. This is quite an insightful and instructive book, and of course since it was published, the author has been appointed head of India's central bank, and also on record for having warned of excess risk in the financial system years before the crisis, so this is someone more than a mere academic whose views need to be taken seriously. Yet it is written in a very clear and non-technical manner. If it has any weakness, in fact, it is a little too non-technical, and a little too lacking in citations to supporting data (other books such as Guaranteed to Fail and House of Debt, however, contain supporting data. Toward the end he offers a fairly standard list of policy prescriptions (invest more in education, reduce consumption subsidies, reduce banking system risk, and so on), although my favorite was his call to finally fully privatize the GSE's, so that they are just E's, without the GS, which is long overdue.
28 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Saving Capitalism From the Politicians 18 juin 2010
Par Etienne RP - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
In his previous book, Raghuram Rajan wanted to save capitalism from the capitalists. As he and his coauthor described, market forces can be annihilated by those bent on rent seeking and monopoly power. A few years after this first book, and in the midst of a world financial crisis, there is still ample proof that capitalists hold predatory views on capitalism, and that they want to hijack the system for their own private interest. But instead of distributing the blame for the crisis that befell upon us, Rajan argues that our post-crisis world economy needs to be saved from a new kind of threat: a combination of populist-driven politics and of geopolitical power shifts that create deep and lasting imbalances. These are the areas where he situates the fault lines that lie at the origin of the current world crisis and that, if unattended, may well provoke the next one.

In geology, fault lines are breaks in the Earth's surface where tectonic plates come in contact or collide. In using a geological metaphor, the author suggests that the cracks and imbalances in the world economy cannot be easily mended, and that they are almost beyond our control. But if mankind cannot prevent tectonic moves and earthquakes, we can build resistant buildings and improve the resilience of our economic systems. This is what Rajan proposes, in a set of recommendations that goes well beyond the usual fix in the financial sector that is now commonly discussed.

As Raghu Rajan emphasizes, his proposals are neither from the right nor from the left. They derive from his long experience as an academic originator of cutting-edge economic research, and as a decision-maker who, during three years, occupied the number-two seat at the IMF in Washington. His personal background as a US non-resident Indian also shows throughout the book. He mentions in passing that he is the director of a company, Heymath, that is based in Chennai in India and that helps teachers around the world to create teaching materials for math lessons and homework assignments. More generally, he insists that economists should analyze the US economy with the same tools and frameworks that they use for emerging countries. US policy-makers could also learn a thing or two from developing economies. For instance, health management practices in India could show the way to making US healthcare more affordable. Or conditional cash transfers in Mexico could encourage poor parents in American urban ghettos to pay more attention to their children's nutrition, health, and education by making welfare payments conditional on parents meeting certain milestones. Neither left nor right, many of his prescriptions are from the South.

It is unlikely that people from the radical left will read this book, but they should. For a start, the metaphor of "fault lines" is close to the Marxist concept of contradiction. For Marxists, capitalism is branded by an immanent want of balance, of crippling contradictions. This is exactly why it changes and develops incessantly: constant development is the only way for it to resolve and come to terms with its constitutive imbalance. Contradictions and fault lines are not digging capitalism's grave; on the contrary, they highlight its flexibility and adaptability, and also show the amount of work required in sustaining it. Similarly, Rajan's own explanation of the financial crisis comes close to the concept of overdetermination. For psychoanalysts, a phenomenon is overdetermined if it is caused by a combination of multiple factors, which taken in isolation cannot account for the effect alone. The financial crisis originates in the follies and excesses of the financial sector, but also in the "other scene" of growing domestic inequalities and global imbalances.

Although he quotes neither Marx nor Freud, Rajan shows up as a skilled dialectician. For him, politicians are part of the problem, and yet they are the ones that we must rely on to provide the solution. Likewise, our current predicament derives from the planet's growing interdependence, but the way out is to be found in more globalization, not less. Or to take another example, fixing finance from the consequence of financial engineering gone wild requires more financial innovation, albeit of a different, more inclusive kind. The art of the dialectical reversal is also displayed in the author's disregard for conventional ideas and political party lines. In Saving Capitalism, he argued that capitalist rent-seekers' best friends were the trade unions and antiglobalizers pushing for trade protection and anticompetitive practices. Likewise, he argues in Fault Lines that the IMF and the World Bank should seek their best supporters among the civil society organizations and media outlets that are so often found vociferating against the dictates of the Bretton Woods institutions.

I will not try to sum up the argument or reproduce some of the reasoning, because all chapters seem equally worthwhile. In every book I read, there are parts that deserve less attention and that I tend to read in a more cursory way, taking less notes and time to ponder the reasoning. Not so in Fault Lines: my scrapbook was full of notes, and there was not one passage where I felt left out or in need of additional explanation. The writing is never dull or technical, and there are real gems in style and composition. The author has a real talent for catching the attention of the reader head on and keeping him alert until the very last page. This is not only the best book on the financial crisis I have read so far, but also one of the most stimulating and readable economic volume that I have had the opportunity to review.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This is probably the second best book you can read about the financial crisis (after ... 18 juillet 2014
Par Richard N. Langlois - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Rajan, now head of the Reserve Bank of India, is one of the smartest financial economists out there. This is probably the second best book you can read about the financial crisis (after Calomiris and Haber, _Fragile by Design_). Although Rajan makes an appearance in Charles Ferguson's horrid anti-Wall Street film _Inside Job_, this book quite appropriately lays much (though not all) of the blame where it actually belongs -- on lax monetary policy that pumped up the bubble and federal housing policy that debased lending standards. The book is weakest at the end, where Rajan provides recommendations for the future. But the book's analysis of the factors that led up to the crisis is both nuanced and sure-footed.
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Some of his points are argued better than others 10 septembre 2016
Par Suraj Nyalakonda - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Rajan is an important thinker who is willing to challenge the economics establishment on its ridiculous assumptions. Some of his points are argued better than others. However, it's a short read that should make those with all kinds of political beliefs think deeply about their inherent assumptions about the nature of the U.S. and domestic economy. However, I do not recommend this for the absolute layman. A reader without a strong understanding of basic economic theory is not going to get much out of this. I'd recommend at least reading "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt or "Basic Economics" by Thomas Sowell before this book.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par Steven H Propp - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
The author notes in the Introduction to this 2010 book, "Why was the flood of money that came in from outside the United States used for financing subprime credit? ... Why are poorer developing countries like China financing the unsustainable consumption of rich countries for so long? Why did financial firms make loans to people who had no income, no jobs, and no assets... I attempt to address all these questions in this book... I do not have a single explanation for this crisis... I use the metaphor of 'fault lines.' ... I describe the fault lines that have emerged in the global economy and explain how these fault lines affect the financial sector." (Pg. 7)

He summarizes the financial crisis: "an enormous quantity of money flowed into low-income housing in the United States, both from abroad and from government-sponsored mortgage agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This led to both unsustainable house price increases and a steady deterioration in the quality of mortgage loans made... both commercial and investment banks took on an enormous quantity of risk... even while borrowing extremely short term to finance these purchases." (Pg. 16)

He argues, "I do not seek to be an apologist for bankers, whose hankering for bonuses in the aftermath of a public rescue is not just morally outrageous but also politically myopic. But outrage does not drive good public policy... Regulating bankers' bonus pay is only a very partial solution, especially if many bankers did not realize the risks they were taking." (Pg. 18) Addressing the issue of the effect of government intervention in low-income housing on the crisis, he suggests, "This certainly wass not the only factor at play, and to argue that it was is misleading. But it is equally misleading to say it played no part. The private financial sector did not suddenly take up low-income housing loans in the early 2000s out of the goodness of its heart... To ignore the role played by politicians, the government, and quasi-government agencies is to ignore the elephant in the room." (Pg. 42)

He argues, "The private financial sector bears an enormous responsibility for what happened. But did the brokers act immorally? Clearly, misleading retirees about their payments was wrong and bordered on the illegal. But ... it is not obvious that predatory lending of that sort was the norm. Brokers and firms like New Century provided many a homeowner with what they were asking for: refinancing at low rates, with little thought for the future. Should the broker have counseled the debt-ridden homeowners ... to cut back on consumption, pay off credit card debts, and move to a smaller, more affordable house?... Knowing, however, that the mortgages they originated would be packaged and sold, they had little stake in the relationship, other than the fees---fees that indicated to them that they were doing God's work." (Pg. 129-130)

He adds, "Where did the buck stop? Not with New Century's founders, who sold their stock holdings as the firm's fortunes deteriorated. Not with the brokers, who made fat commissions while the gravy train chugged along... It stopped with the retiree who was fooled into taking out an expensive mortgage and... is now facing eviction... above all, it stopped with the taxpayer, whose dollars bailed out Fannie and Freddie, and who stands behind the Federal Housing Administration." (Pg. 131) He suggests "government intervention and regulatory failure had as much of a role to play in this crisis as private-sector failure." (Pg. 155)

Largely a sympathetic treatment of Wall Street and the financial industry (note that Rajan is the former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund), there is much perceptive economic analysis in this book.
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