Richard's Reviews > Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and the Government Bailout Will Make Things Worse

Meltdown by Thomas E. Woods Jr.
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May 28, 09

bookshelves: economics, history, politics
Read in May, 2009

The Austrian School of Economics is a strange sort of fundamentalist sect of the free-market religion. Thomas Woods (who is listed as a "fellow" of the Mises Institute and wrote the Politically Incorrect Guide to History) does a nice job excoriating bad public policy for many of our recent economic ills and even makes a somewhat compelling case for the idea that government economic management contributes to the boom/bust cycle.

The problem is that Woods does not argue that governments contribute to the cycle; he maintains that they are the sole cause of it. Austrians are as close as one gets to Anarcho-Capitalists while still being able to wear jacket and tie. The problem that Woods and the bulk of Mises' disciples face is the useful things government does: compensating for externalities, subsidizing public goods, protecting the utility of our medium of exchange (i.e. money). Saying that the government's meddling in the economy means we ought to privatize money is the sort of baby-with-the-bathwater argument that permeates the book.

Despite the above rant, Woods (with Mises' and his students' help) makes many very salient points that perhaps the government does too much in our economy. A well-reasoned and intelligent book, if flawed in its broad generalizations.
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