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The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  462 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
A New York Times bestseller

The Great Deformation is a searing look at Washington’s craven response to the recent myriad of financial crises and fiscal cliffs. It counters conventional wisdom with an eighty-year revisionist history of how the American state—especially the Federal Reserve—has fallen prey to the politics of crony capitalism and the ideologies of fiscal stimul
Hardcover, 743 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2013)
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Athan Tolis
Jan 15, 2014 Athan Tolis rated it it was amazing
This is the most significant book of 2013.

It's rambling and endless. 700 pages feel like 1,700. Frankly, it's a bad read. Halfway through, you can already complete every sentence yourself, that's how bad Stockman repeats himself. I'm not sure all numbers check out. No editor ever got near this manuscript.

Before I continue with why this is the most significant book of 2013, some more bad news: The author's unifying theory is in my view quaint and irrelevant. For completeness allow me to rearrange
Apr 04, 2013 Jose rated it liked it
Listened to David Stockman give his premiere book presentation at the Greenwich Library 10 days ago and short of buying the book, i checked it out from the library, this 700+ page brick.

The author is certainly a highly intelligent individual with sharp argumentation skills, but he comes across as a doomsday machine. I agree with many of his observations although I don't accept all his conclusions or recipes for the cure of the fiscal and political illnesses of this country. He does contribute to
May 13, 2013 Rich rated it it was amazing
The book The Great Deformation is amazing. I just finished it this morning and now I want to go out and hang myself. Stockman made me angry at nearly everyone, but mostly at the US Government for creating the Federal Reserve in the first place. The most important good that exists in the world is money. The most important thing to price correctly is capital. But both money and capital have been so deformed since 1913 and particularly in the past 30 years, that we now sit on the verge of the bigge ...more
John Boettcher
Sep 09, 2013 John Boettcher rated it it was amazing
This is one of the greatest economic books to be published this year. It gives an absolutely SCATHING report on what actually happened between Wall Street and the Federal Government with the help of the Federal Reserve.

The amount of corruption and back door dealing that took place during the crisis of 2008-2009 was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Stockman makes that absolutely CRUCIAL point that it wasn't Capitalism that failed us, it was CRONY capitalism that ran rampant throughout the streets
Apr 18, 2013 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't possibly provide an effective summary of David Stockman's very lengthy polemic on the state of the U.S. Economy. Probably the best I can offer is to repeat an advertisement I noticed for a Seattle TownHall meeting on Stockman's book which states: "Today’s national debt stands at nearly $16 trillion—divided equally among taxpayers, that means each of us owes $52,000. David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, explains how we got here—and how warped “crony capitalism” has betrayed ...more
May 03, 2013 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Whew. I hardly know where to start on this massive book. I had NO idea when I requested it at the library that it was over 700 pages and would take over my life for three weeks. :-) This book is a real investment of time, but it is worth it. This book is a very long but vigorous deconstruction of "what went wrong" with the economy, starting way back with FDR and continuing on until today--and Stockman finds plenty of blame to pass around, from FDR and Nixon killing sound money by taking us off t ...more
Apr 10, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economy

This is one of those kind of books that I decided to read the last chapter first, knowing that 700 pages of analysis would lead to some likely solutions. So glad I did. Having spent the last three months reading everything I can get my hands on, this is an awesome book. Read the first chapter this morning and heading deep into the rest. This is more than a book this is a landmark and a call for real change. The pen is mightier than the sword.
Apr 04, 2016 Clif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Stockman as a young man was Ronald Reagan's budget director. A proponent of the free market, he became disillusioned with the behavior of the Reagan administration in contrast to the pledges that were made before the Gipper came into office. He then wrote a book, The Triumph of Politics", about the experience relating how all the fine words went out the window while government grew, subsidies were given to all the big lobbies and in the end things were worse at the end of the 1980's than b ...more
Yuri Zbitnoff

This book is absolutely, positively essential for anyone who's even remotely interested in economics, finance or American history.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is one of the most important political and economic books ever written.

Yes, it's that good.

As a libertarian and as someone who's worked in banking and finance my entire adult life, I'm accustomed to hearing antipathy toward Wall Street and the financial complex. After the 2008 collapse and bailout, I empathize with th
Hank Mishkoff
Aug 28, 2013 Hank Mishkoff rated it it was ok
The longest, angriest rant, ever.

Densely packed with data, but with surprisingly little information. It's as if Stockman assumes that we understand all of the esoteric concepts he throws around, so he doesn't have to bother to explain them -- but if we really understood them, we wouldn't have to read his book in the first place. He obviously knows a lot, but he either doesn't know how to explain things to people who know less than he does, or he just wants to vent and doesn't particularly care w
Apr 26, 2013 DROPPING OUT rated it it was amazing
This 700+ page door-stop is a no-holds-barred polemical indictment of our government's fiscal ignorance that has led to what might bring down the United States.But we are not alone. Similar policies pursued by the European Union, Japan, and others make this a global problem. The United States might still be high in the saddle had people truly knowledgable of economics and fiscal policy been running the store. But "crony capitalism" and the arrogance of the likes of Rubin, Greenspan and Bernanke ...more
Sep 06, 2013 Christoph rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It is very important to remember that economics is not a science. Although the discipline couches itself in much of the language such as developing theories, and quantifying statistics or distributions, performing analyses of all kinds, we must remember its based on a social process of (currently) fiat symbol exchange. Nothing in that base understanding lends itself to hard science. You can take any economic model you want and essentially try to gloss over the fact that this is the case, but thi ...more
May 17, 2013 Marks54 rated it did not like it
I have to admit it. I had to give up on this after getting about a quarter of the way through. In a 700 page book, that is about 175 pages.

Why did I quit on this? To start with, it is hugely overwritten and poorly edited. So even if I had liked it, I would have been spending about twice the time than would be the case for a good book. But there is much more to it than that.

Second, it is clearly revisionist history -- an attempt to go back to the onset of the financial crisis and claim that there
Dec 22, 2013 Kit rated it it was ok
FDR: bad, Truman: good, Eisenhower: great, Kennedy: ok, Johnson: horrible, Nixon: the main cause of our problems, Ford: good but ineffective, Bush I: bad, Clinton: ok, Bush II: very bad, Obama: bad, and Krugman and Friedman: both bad. (Oh, and Carter and Reagan: little to no comment). This book's premise, as outlined above, promises a unique and informative analysis of why our country is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. However Stockman does not deliver on this promise in over 700 pages of ...more
Lisa Cindrich
700+ pages...somehow I doubt strongly that I will have time for the whole thing. But so far I really am enjoying how Stockman is willing to toss well-deserved grenades in both political directions--right and left--and his very entertaining way with invective, especially toward the Federal Reserve. Suits my (sour) political mood these days.

The chapter and subheading titles have me salivating: "Days of Crony Capitalist Plunder", "The Fed's Horrid Bailout of LTCM", "Goldman and Morgan Stanley: The
May 10, 2013 Kevin rated it really liked it
This really is an excellent book and an amazing feat of writing in history and current events. Stockman skewers everyone - conservatives, liberals,Congress, the Fed, green energy subsidies, the auto bailout, you name it. Hit hardest are Bush, Greenspan, Bernanke, and Paulson. Only Eisenhower and a few others get praise. The book makes a compelling case that Keynesian economics and supply-side are two sides of same coin and both are killing us. Also interesting was the explanation of how the curr ...more
Usman Chohan
Aug 17, 2015 Usman Chohan rated it it was amazing
As a former OMB official, Stockman has firsthand insights about the fiscal quagmire besetting budgetary indiscipline in the United States. But this book is unique in that it proffers the middle finger both to Keynesianism and monetarism, to left-wing and right-wing economists alike. The contention of this book is that, so long as the country doesn't live within its means, squanders money on morally dubious enterprises abroad, and lacks farsighted leadership, it really doesn't matter what mantle ...more
Jon Ronnquist
Mar 25, 2015 Jon Ronnquist rated it it was amazing
In this expansive and well-researched work, the author tackles head-on one of the pressing issues of the age; the viability of the capitalist model. Drawing on his own experience both inside and out of government, Stockman makes a convincing argument for the need to rethink much of what we have come to take for granted about the corporate world and its relationship to government. Unlike many similar books on the subject, The Great Deformation devotes little time to speculation, choosing instead ...more
Oct 05, 2014 Justinbwood rated it it was ok
Some good points within the book, but it's definitely not worth reading to get them. Whatever intelligence and insight the author offers is completely overwhelmed by his repetitive, overblown dogmatic hype. Everything is 'unprecendented' (as if everything unprecedented is bad), everyone is Keynesian (and thus an idiot, obviously according to the author), anything positive about FDR is a 'hagiography'. At first it's not so bad, but after 100 pages or so it is absolutely tedious. I found myself on ...more
Aug 11, 2014 Jrknorr rated it really liked it
700 pages of depth to the long evolution of how our nation has ended up with a $17 trillion debt (and still climbing). Statistics were tossed out in his narrative as if the lay person could really grasp the nuances of economic terminologies and trends making much of his narrative a bit numbing.
After a while, it seemed as though the themes starting repeating themselves (e.g. Eisenhower, good, FDR, G.W.Bush, bad, etc).
But if one stayed with Stockman long enough, he leaves little doub
Aug 24, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
The great Ponzi scheme a.k.a. the greed of the wealthy. Capitalism is being ruined by government bailouts of Wall St, bankers, automobile companies and at the expense of the shrinking middle class taxpayers. Mr. Stockman confirms this through his historical analytical description of the corruption of capitalism since the 1980s. Capitalism is unsustainable long term in the U.S. Its demise is inevitable and only a matter of time. I strongly recommend you read for yourself. 8 of 10 stars
Jul 20, 2016 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Never mind whether he's a gold bug. He offers a strong counter narrative, born of wide statistical command and seasoned policy experience. Ignore if you know it all.

I wish that someone with better economics knowledge than I would see how Stockman's critique of post-Bretton Woods monetary policy and the boon it has been to capital contributes or relates to Thomas Piketty's work in Capital. Perhaps there's something there.
Tadas Talaikis
Mar 04, 2016 Tadas Talaikis rated it it was amazing
Can't see it from BEA, but picture would show it better:

U.S. economy is a big gamble since Reaganomics.

Yet another reality check, inflation adjusted home prices last 100 years is a gamble with illusions:

Most of tradeable market now is in derivatives, having no real ground (i.e. earnings). Meaning banks are able to earn by fooling "the new slaves" to collect their pensions trough fund commissions. And governments since Reaganomics try hard to keep this game rolling. But that's just gamble with ti
Feb 11, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
For a while, I didn't know if I'd get through all of Stockman's book, which is basically a 700-page diatribe against current trends in the US economic system. And by current he means anyone after Eisenhower. Stockman is an old-school fiscal conservative. While he makes many good points, I suspect the time to turn back the clock is long past (and I think the author would probably agree with me). This tome could have used an editor with a mighty red pen to cut some of the repetition and excessive ...more
Chris Elkjar
Sep 15, 2013 Chris Elkjar rated it it was amazing
Excellent polemic covering the history of the current US economic situation it's causes and suggested solutions. Stockman pulls no punches and doesn't hesitate to place blame on either side of the isle. This book is quite a brick and definitely lags at a few points but his overall point of promoting sound money and removing the crony capitalism epidemic sound true.
May 01, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Whew! I finished it. I listened to the audio version at 1.75 speed. I have to say if I had tried to read the book, I probably wouldn't have made it through the first chapter, but I'm glad I finished it. Had I listened to it at normal speed, I probably would have had to check it out from the library two or three times.

This is an important book, and rightly points out that there is no such thing currently as a fiscally conservative political party. Dare I say, even tea party republicans. I've lon
Murali Behara
Dec 20, 2014 Murali Behara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently by 2022, we are all screwed! The author made a passionate case arguing, that 1. the auto-bailout is an $80,000,000,000 theft 2. the politics are all about crony capitalism and that the president wants to pay for welfare state by cutting into warfare state 3. the Keynesian welfare state will end with political paralysis and our economy is trapped in crippling $54,000,000,000,000 debt which is leveraged 3.6 times that of our GDP and 4. by 2022, the number of unemployed adults will incre ...more
Bob Lamothe
May 18, 2016 Bob Lamothe rated it liked it
This is a big, big, book.

David Stockman takes us through the US economy and how it has deformed into a monster that is threatening to take us all out. Stockman makes a great case that the economy has become increasingly artificial since the creation of the Federal Reserve and the Roosevelt ministrations of the New Deal. He takes us through the economic landscape of Keynsian manipulations which are intended to protect main street from financial upheaval only to fail main street and enrich cronies
Ryan Nunley
Mar 14, 2016 Ryan Nunley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing historical perspective of the financial history of US monetary policy. Insider view from the world of high finance.
Feb 03, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it
If one believes, as I do, that God is on control, then Stockman's foretelling of doom is somewhat less troubling. That said, our nation’s fiscal housel does seem an almost irretrievable mess. The book did not cause me to go out and buy all the gold I can reasonably afford, but it get me to thinking how I might store some.

He clearly espouses a doctrine of sound money, which seems infinitely preferable to QEx, y, & z. The only president who may take a bow on Mr. Stockman's stage would seem to
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David Alan Stockman is a former U.S. politician and businessman, serving as a Republican U.S. Representative from the state of Michigan (1977–1981) and as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1981–1985).
More about David A. Stockman...

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“The great irony, then, is that the nation’s most famous modern conservative economist became the father of Big Government, chronic deficits, and national fiscal bankruptcy. It was Friedman who first urged the removal of the Bretton Woods gold standard restraints on central bank money printing, and then added insult to injury by giving conservative sanction to perpetual open market purchases of government debt by the Fed. Friedman’s monetarism thereby institutionalized a régime which allowed politicians to chronically spend without taxing. Likewise, it was the free market professor of the Chicago school who also blessed the fundamental Keynesian proposition that Washington must continuously manage and stimulate the national economy. To be sure, Friedman’s “freshwater” proposition, in Paul Krugman’s famous paradigm, was far more modest than the vast “fine-tuning” pretensions of his “salt-water” rivals. The saltwater Keynesians of the 1960s proposed to stimulate the economy until the last billion dollars of potential GDP was realized; that is, they would achieve prosperity by causing the state to do anything that was needed through a multiplicity of fiscal interventions. By contrast, the freshwater Keynesian, Milton Friedman, thought that capitalism could take care of itself as long as it had precisely the right quantity of money at all times; that is, Friedman would attain prosperity by causing the state to do the one thing that was needed through the single spigot of M1 growth.” 2 likes
“There can be little doubt, therefore, that George W. Bush, and his father before him, carried out their imperial adventures in the lands ringing the Persian Gulf because they could. An accident of history had bestowed upon them a massive conventional war-fighting machine, so they went to war without having to prove the case or raise an army by taxing the people and getting a declaration of Congress.” 0 likes
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