The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America
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The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  247 ratings  ·  71 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...more
Hardcover, 743 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by PublicAffairs
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Rich
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
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...more
Jose
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...more
Ray
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
Athan Tolis
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...more
Michelle
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
David


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.
Phil
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
Marks54
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...more
Kit
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...more
Kevin
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
Tom

I liked this book a lot & highly recommend it.

Stockman covers the 20th century in US financial history. He says smart things about events ranging from the New Deal to the 2012 presidential election, from his eight years serving in Congress and the Reagan White House to his 20 years working as a private-equity dealmaker on Wall Street.

Stockman impressed me with his command & interpretation of the facts. Unfortunately, this book has received scant in-depth analysis & review from othe...more
Jrknorr
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, et.al. good, FDR, G.W.Bush, et.al. bad, etc).
But if one stayed with Stockman long enough, he leaves little doub...more
Tim
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
Jennifer
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
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.
Eric
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...more
Nathaniel James
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
Jeff Hunt
Bravo, David Stockman, Bravo! This is a great book and should be required reading for all Americans. David Stockman spent time as Regan’s budget director and later as an LBO artist. His come to Jesus moment occurred as the CEO of automotive supplier Collins & Aikman Corporation where he was prosecuted (or persecuted) by an overzealous US attorney before the DOJ dropped the case. And according to a chapter hidden rather deep in the book, hitting rock bottom which was the impetus that lead to...more
Paul
A massive, undocumented polemic that nonetheless tells it like it is.

I hadn't heard of David Stockman until I came across an article by him on LewRockwell.com discussing American Middle East policy and actions. I was struck by his blunt, caustic, and seemingly well-informed criticism of the imperialist bungling of successive administrations. When I noted that Stockman had written a book on the history of the current economic crisis, and when I noted further that his credentials included service...more
Rogier
Refreshing, if repetitive, and suffering from some sloppy editing. Principles vs. principals and that sort of stuff...

The single most comprehensive overview of the systematic financial demolition of the USA by the reformed cheerleader of the the whole movement when he was budget director under Reagan. Then he went into private equity only to get his hoist on his own petard in the onset of the automotive spin-out. He recovered, dusted himself off, and began to analyze what really happened, and th...more
Christoph
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
Hank Mishkoff
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...more
Russ
David Stockman is an angry man and he has written a very long book. The book would be much shorter if he didn't spend more than half of it venting. It is unfortunate because the 40%-50% that isn't venting offers solid analysis of the financial problems in this country. When on topic, he supplies reasonable, sound and concise explanations of the financial excesses of the last 40 years. He effectively takes to task politicians, bankers, Wall Street, and special interest groups for the financial pr...more
Breakingviews
By Martin Hutchinson

David Stockman is a polemicist. “The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America”, the new book by the former adviser to President Ronald Reagan and private equity magnate, is a tirade, arguing over more than 700 pages that crony capitalism and central planning have increasingly corrupted U.S. policy since the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

Stockman has a clear intellectual starting point - the Austrian school which holds that loose monetary policy encourage...more
Donnell
I began this review while still reading this book because it is easier for me to keep a record of my thoughts as I go along. I fully intended to finish--and I admire the depth of Mr. Stockman's research and graciousness in providing us with a detailed overview of economic history. I think I got the essence, though--the gov can, too easily, simply print more and more money--and just couldn't face all the rest of those pages.

Some of my "take aways" from this book:

1. We actually live in a sociali...more
Fred Kohn
Q. Who was the fascist world leader of the 1930s whose policies were primarily responsible for WWII?

A. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In spectacular fashion, David Stockman endeavors to set us straight on the realities of 20th and early 21st century history. As he took up the mantle as the modern day prophet of "the gospel of the free market" and "the old-time fiscal religion" (his phrases), I couldn't help but be reminded of the mass of literature being churned out by another angry conservative grou...more
Trevor
Notwithstanding some rather cherry-picked arguments, poor editing, lax critical analysis, and somewhat myopic viewpoint, The Great Deformation was, at least, an entertaining read: Stockman deserves props for his colorful, mixed-metaphor-laden epithetical language. My favorite Stockman-ism: "There were only two things wrong with this ratio: the numerator and the denominator."

True, he overuses certain words/phrases--inexorable, insuperable, simulacrum, doomsday machine, literally used figurativel...more
Laurel Valenti
Life is too short, don't waste time reading this book. I'm not even sure if this is fiction or non fiction, but it's not well thought out, incoherent at times, not balanced, not well written. After his days as budget director in the Reagan administration, David Stockman moved on to Salomon Brothers, Blackstone and founded his own hedge fund. He’s now seen the light and morphed into a crusading financial reformer who believes that Dwight Eisenhower and William McChesney Martin led the last fiscal...more
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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).
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