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Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  956 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Eight years on from the biggest market meltdown since the Great Depression, the key lessons of the crisis of 2008 still remain unlearned—and our financial system is just as vulnerable as ever. Many of us know that our government failed to fix the banking system after the subprime mortgage crisis. But what few of us realize is how the misguided financial practices and philo ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Crown Business
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John Yes, her political leanings are toward the left but she presents a fairly-balanced and convincing argument. Like many financial writers, she…moreYes, her political leanings are toward the left but she presents a fairly-balanced and convincing argument. Like many financial writers, she highlights the massive de-regulation unleashed during the Clinton Era by the Three Marketeers (Greenspan, Rubin and Summers) and the devastating consequences. She seems to cast Senator Elizabeth Warren in a favorable light. But given all the problems and issues she identifies in the book, it's hard to push back against the need for reform and revision.(less)

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BlackOxford
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
The Ideology of Corporate Finance

Around the turn of the 20th century the economic power of the world shifted from capitalists who made things to capitalists who made money. The source of the change was the mid-19th century discovery of limited liability and its rapid dissemination into the corporate legal systems of Europe and North America.

Limited liability, the obligation of corporate shareholders only for their investment in a company and not for further debts of the company, is
...more
Andrew Tollemache
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to reading a good analysis of the perils of financialization, how it came to pass and what can be done about it. Unfortunately, "Makers and Takers" is not that book. Rana Foroohar, who is a long time financial journalist, has written a book that is filled with both factual errors (no, mutual funds were not invented in the 1970s nor did our debacle in Vietnam stem largely from Robert McNamara's background in system and data analysis) and shoddy, shoddy thinking.
Her
...more
Susan
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What "Dark Money" was to political realities in 2016 - "Makers and Takers" is to the economic reality of the USA in 2016. Foroohar traces the 2008 crises, causes, loopholes remaining, tax advantages to corporations, examples of corporate "welfare," and assorted other Wall Street advantages and power over Congress and US economy as a whole.
Bankers and financialization of our economy is the driving force behind sluggish recovery, stagnant wages and growing income inequality that will not and cann
...more
Diego
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are 2 types of CEOs, the short term greedy vs long term innovator. It must take balls to not please your shareholders in the short term. Financialization is a company culture and political disease. It destroys a productive company or manufacturer. And the American MBA education is breeding this greedy thought process.

Two ways that people will think about financial engineering, either it's good business because you are growing the stock price, making money, and pleasing Wall Str
...more
Andrew
Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business, by Rana Foroohar, is an interesting look at the changing landscape of American Business and macroconomic finance. The book examines the post-2008 economic crisis economy in the United States, and examines what the author terms as the "financialization" of the American economy. This means the movement toward financial products and rentier behaviour by corporate and government entities. Corporations appear to be seeking mone ...more
Charles J
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Imprisoned inside this book is a good book screaming to get out. Buried alive, like the Man in the Iron Mask, this Hidden Book offers worthwhile insights into, and criticism of, the crony capitalism that has choked the free market out of our finance system. But the Hidden Book has disappeared from view under the crushing weight of authorial ignorance and an idol of, or rather an entire marble temple erected to, Elizabeth Warren. So each time the author of “Makers and Takers,” Rana Foroohar, yet ...more
D.L. Morrese
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is quite obvious that there is something fundamentally wrong with our economic system, a system in which the CEO of a corporation is paid several hundred times the wage of its average worker. A system in which the wages of workers have remained flat despite decades of productivity growth. A system in which well over half the wealth of the nation is held by 1% its people. A system in which (as the author tells us) "the top twenty-five hedge fund managers in America make more than all of the co ...more
Lada
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Holy crap! This book really scared me. At times it seemed contradictory, e.g. privately financed firms do better because they are not beholden to increasing short-term shareholder value, but firms not going public is bad because then we don't know what they're up to. I think this is because stats and opinions were thrown about in a simplified way to make particular points. In any case, if you want something to freak you out, try this book. It will do so very methodically.
Joel
Sep 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Rich in footnotes, but devoid of logic. Takes non-sequitur to a whole other level, but hey, it's backed up with stats. As a reporter, Foroohar is great at collecting stories, but is clueless about what's actually going on. And when the details get too complicated, like any good journalist she falls back on evocative adjectives to get you enraged, but not actually understand the roots of the problem, never mind the appropriate solutions.

Some examples:

Page 2, paragraph, par
...more
Scott Lee
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm not an expert on any of the things that Foroohar covers. I've taken basic (i.e. High School/A.P. level) economics, taught a semester or two at that level, and try to follow what I can of what's happening at the intersection of business and politics--especially banking and politics. I've found Foroohar's columns in Time well-balanced and well-argued and was excited to see she'd written a book.

I don't know enough to challenge this book or to really read it critically. Okay, not true--I'm an Engli
...more
Herzog
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: financial
I always enjoy Rana Foroohar's columns. I find them concise and insightful. This book is in that same tradition. She sets the Paul Ryan analysis of "makers and takers" on its head, identifying the financialization industry as the true takers and those enterprises contributing to society's progress as the makers. Along the way, she even-handedly addresses issues critical to our capitalist system - the financialization of our businesses, the failures of American business education, the problems wi ...more
Ben
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Objective, politics-free & well-researched look into the scary place the U.S. economy has become.

The author walks through the causes & origins, they why, the how, and finally her recommended fixes as to how to reverse course from a first-world economy that once was a bastion and in many ways has gotten worse and slowed to a crawl, tech innovation aside.

For economic/finance novices she does well in walking through easy-to-understand examples of the core topics.

I'v
...more
Michael Russell
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is likely the most important & informative book I’ve read this year.

It think the title may intimidate some readers as it suggests financial wonkiness- but please don’t let it deter you.

It’s extremely readable, and the use of anecdotes to illustrate points gives it a Macolm Gladwellian tone.

I genuinely could not put this book down… I was hoping for train delays and rainy days in, just so I could get through more if it.

I’ll re-read this and gift this many, many times. Everyone s
...more
Terry
Jul 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
A disappointingly superficial look at an important topic. Full of overstatements ("Apple puts more effort into financial engineering than their core business"). Short on any new insights or suggested remedies. Don't waste your time.
Anthony Tang
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-a-bit
Didn’t finish, kinda bland IMO. Interesting concepts though, the overarching idea was that the U.S. financial system is bad for business because it focuses more on short-term trends than on long-term innovation.
John
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the three best books of the year for me. Rana Foroohar traces the change that has overcome both main street and wall street in the past 30 years. A full 20 per cent of the text is references, so it is definitely not just another political diatribe.

It is difficult to summarize a book of this complexity, but let me use Apple computer and how it has changed from the technical powerhouse it was under Steve Jobs to the poster child of current CEOs , Tim Cook. Jobs' vision was to make
...more
Charles
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book will scare the reader as it explains many things about the performance of the American economy, specifically the nature of the recovery since the financial collapse of 2008. Unemployment is down, tightening the pool of available workers, yet with the exception of the top few percent wages are stagnant. Furthermore, most of the people are not rebuilding the wealth that they lost in 2008 and 2009, saving rates remain low and few are building up their financial cushion.
The problem that
...more
Fernando Rodriguez-Villa
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
We're overdue for a thoughtful, comprehensive and well-documented examination into the ways in which the modern financial sector has undermined and hampered actual business and economic progress. This book is almost that. It has a methodical structure and highlights crucial (and crippling) flaws in our attitudes towards corporate governance, market regulation, asset management and more. Nevertheless, Faroohar arrives at some of her conclusions prematurely. A reader with an academic or profession ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics, dystopia
A frightening and illuminating analysis of the apocalypse that occurs when a wafer-thin stratum of humans finds out that making money is easier than making things. This sort of thing is not widely reported for a variety of reasons (e.g. our media is owned by the very financial interests this book investigates), so establishment journalist Faroohar often comes across as extremely radical -- which I suppose she is.
Jackson Matthews
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Intensely aggravating and informative. Most of us do not have much say in how our pensions are invested, but after reading this I am supposing it is some legislator's favorite lobbyist. We really do need some transparent, accountable change to the system. People who just shuffle money around look like shell-gamers for a reason.
Joseph Brigante
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I was not aware of much of what was in this book. I must say it has changed my perspective on a number of things when it comes to finance, and corporate America. The history that this book goes into is particularly illuminating.

This book is probably not for everyone, but if you are even a little interested by the title, or the topic matter I can easily recommend,
Donnell
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Everyone should read this book.

Foroohar explains the economy we live in--a form of capitalism that has developed into an entity that is eating itself.

It all began sometime back around the time of the Reagan administration and developed as bankers and others realized that money could be made by moving money around. No need to fret about making anything when this easier way to get rich existed. But then there were all those pesky regulations. Those rules were keeping the economy from being th
...more
Jen
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
While I am dubious of some of the statistics and their usage in this book, the theme, that finance produces no value and pulls attention away from innovation and the things people need, is one I take to heart. I will recall the makers vs takers framework when I hear of the next banking scandal.
Aravind Bharadwaj
Dec 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
A one-sided, ill-informed narrative that force fits data to suit the author's views, often bordering blatant misrepresentation. Some representative points that I found to be skewed are:
- The treasury earned an 8.5% return on the TARP program, which the author conveniently omits.
- Financial services is not one big blob of service providers that need to be "slaves to businesses". Financial services include real services such as banking and lending, but also services such as financing, which
...more
Matt Papes
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very insightful book that talks about "financialization" of our economy and how Wall Street has really been taking more of its share of the GDP than it deserves and how Main Street is the loser. Her hope in writing it is that once we get clear on this phenomenon we can then take action to ensure the finance gets back to serving what she calls the real economy instead of vice-versa. One small example: the mortgage interest deduction. This first encourages taking on debt (good for financ ...more
Alexandre Klaser
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-economy
A pretty interesting book. Most of the solutions proposed to fix the economic system targets the (still) biggest and most influential economy in the world but some bothering assumptions, like considering the US political system as the de facto standard (seriously, lobby is a nasty thing and shouldn't be considered part of a solid democracy, even a representative democracy), are kind of frustrating, because without challenging them some structural privileges won't ever change.
Michelle
Apr 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Maybe it was a failure to translate journalistic writing into a book, or maybe Foorhar was just overly excited about her subject, but reading this book felt like being whacked over the head every few minutes with her thesis. Instead of letting each vignette tell its story, she spelled out exactly how evil these financiers were at every turn. I started reading Glass House instead, and it's much more enjoyable.
Gary Chan
Jun 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book is poison. Author is biased, uninformed, and draws incorrect conclusions from facts. If you're trying to learn something, you will find yourself dumber after reading it. Useful only if you want to find out what's in the mind of a hater when she hates.
Shirley
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Good read, an excellent primer on the effects of financialization on the general economy. A must read if you wish to understand the important issues leading up to the 2016 US election, and choices and reforms that need to be made afterwards.
Brianscottwatsongmail.com
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read in a long time. Most books on finance talk about past crises... Makers and Takers does a great job addressing what is happening NOW, and why we need to be focusing creating intrinsic value for the long-term vs short-term financial manipulation.
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Rana Foroohar is a Iranian-American assistant managing editor for Time magazine. In the past, she was an economics and foreign editor at Newsweek, where she had previously worked as a London-based correspondent covering Europe and the Middle East. For this reporting, she received the German Marshall Fund's Peter R. Weitz Prize for transatlantic reporting.
“Today financial capitalism is fraught with special interests, corporate monopolies, and an opacity that would have boggled Smith’s mind. Let me be clear: despite my criticism of our existing model of financial capitalism, this book isn’t anticapitalist. I am not in favor of a planned economy or a turn away from a market system. I simply don’t think that the system we have now is a properly functioning market system.” 0 likes
“Managing Our Way to Economic Decline,” could” 0 likes
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