By James Kwak
I only recently finished reading Freefall,* Joseph Stiglitz’s book, so this review comes about two months late. It took me a while partly because I was busy, but partly because I didn’t feel a lot of dramatic tension . . . since I agreed with almost everything he said.
Unlike most crisis books, Freefall is relatively short on what caused the financial crisis. The historical background is mainly laid out in Chapter 1, “The Making of a Crisis,” although there is discussion of specific problems in later chapters, such as Chapter 4, “The Mortgage Scam.” Mainly this book is about the response to the crisis, what was wrong with it, and what needs to change in the future.
Reading the book gave me a familiar feeling. You see, our book (13 Bankers) is largely about historical and political background–our Chapter 1 begins with Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, although most of the book is about the period since 1980–so there is relatively little topical overlap between the two. But where they do overlap, particularly in the discussion of government responses to the crisis, I had the sensation that we were saying much the same thing.