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Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America [Kindle Edition]

Matt Taibbi

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

“A stinging new history of the financial crisis that heralds a return of Menckenesque, dirt-under-the-fingernails American journalism.”—GQ

“A relentlessly disturbing, penetrating exploration of the root causes of the trauma that upended economic security in millions of American homes . . . a full-scale indictment of Wall Street and Washington.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Matt Taibbi is [Hunter S.] Thompson’s heir. . . . [Griftopia] is the most lucid, justifiably angry description of what happened and what continues to happen to our nation’s economy.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
“Taibbi chronicles the corruption of the political process with indignation and dark humor. The takeaway? Be angry, but blame the right culprits.”—Time

Kurzbeschreibung

A brilliantly illuminating and darkly comic tale of the ongoing financial and political crisis in America
 
The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn’t past but prologue. The grifter class—made up of the largest players in the financial industry and the politicians who do their bidding—has been growing in power, and the crisis was only one terrifying manifestation of how they’ve hijacked America’s political and economic life.

Matt Taibbi has combined deep sources, trailblazing reportage, and provocative analysis to create the most lucid, emotionally galvanizing account yet written of this ongoing American crisis. He offers fresh reporting on the backroom deals of the bailout; tells the story of Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”; and uncovers the hidden commodities bubble that transferred billions of dollars to Wall Street while creating food shortages around the world.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the labyrinthine inner workings of this country, and the profound consequences for us all.


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Amazon.com: 4.4 von 5 Sternen  410 Rezensionen
426 von 441 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Good News For People Who Love Bad News 8. November 2010
Von sneaky-sneaky - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Wow, what a wonderful piece of depressing work. Matt Taibbi writes like the manic offspring of Hunter S. Thompson and William F. Buckley, his prose has a wicked, glinting edge, he pulls no punches in his tirades, and he lays the blame for the current economy squarely at the door of unparalleled Wall Street greed and White House collusion.
The American economy has been hollowed into a huge funnel, and everything poured into it is sucked out the other end by the rapacious maw of Goldman Sachs. Why Goldman? Well, as Mr. Taibbi points out, they are the only ones left. Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, Bear Stearns was swallowed, and AIG burned down for the insurance money. There are now fewer entities to siphon off the profits, and curiously enough, Goldman had former executives posted throughout both the Bush and Obama administrations, not to mention the Fed and the governorship of NJ!
The three major bubbles that recently struck the economy all emanated from Wall Street. The tech, commodity, and housing bubbles were engineered to squeeze every last dime out of America regardless of the future.
Wall Street has responded to Taibbi's Rolling Stone articles by disapproving of language that describes various CEOs as "mf"ers, and their websites as "BS.com" and other colorfully correct terminology; but Wall Street forgot to refute the facts, they haven't attempted to dispute what they did. A few CEOs have tried to blame the mortgage meltdown on subprime, complaining that lower income folks were socially engineered into housing--a swipe at both people and policy--but as Taibbi correctly points out, you can find maybe 1.4 trillion in subprime, but another 13 trillion is still missing.
There must be a few one star reviews up for 'Griftopia' by now, as Mr. Taibbi skewers everyone from the tea party to Ayn Rand and her evil disciple, Alan Greenspan (his chapter is entitled "The Biggest A--hole in the Universe.") But the author blames Washington rather than any one party, and admits that the tea party has some valid points, even if they don't know it themselves.
Matt Taibbi also has a great talent for explaining fiendish investment instruments like credit default swaps and tranches, none of which I fully understood, but now have a better grasp of. He uses analogies ranging from burgers to cars as he explains commodities, CDO squares, and other arcana that have reached directly into our pockets and pension plans and ended up as mega-yachts floating off the Hamptons. Finally, there's no remedy offered, no ten recommendations, Taibbi sticks to his investigative guns, epilogues out, and leaves your jaw hanging in disbelief at the extent of the scams that have sent America to the poor house.
252 von 263 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Robbing what's left 4. November 2010
Von VMR - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
It was oddly comforting reading Taibbi's book the day after midterm elections. Reading 'Griftopia' convinced me that the Tea party, crazy people in Congress, the President who is doing his esoteric bipartisanship song and dance - nothing really matters. We have all been so profoundly screwed over, and for such a long time, that current political freak show will not make one iota of difference. Taibbi so neatly sums up life through the end of the USA as we know it (or the USA we believe we know) that I thought the outrage is beside the point.
The most devastating passage for me is the one where he explains what this country could have done with $13 trillion spent on bailouts: pay every mortgage in existence, and build house for every American who doesn't have one. He writes: "But we didn't do that, and we didn't spend money on anything else useful, either. Why? For a very good reason. Because we are no good anymore at building bridges and highways or coming up with brilliant innovations in energy or medicine... What are we good at? Robbing what's left." Devastating, and at the same time weirdly liberating. I would, after all, rather know the worst truth, than live in the fantasy USA we are being sold every day through our irresponsible media and callous politicians.
Taibbi's been compared to Michael Lewis, but I find this comparison plain lazy. Lewis writes about financial shenanigans with measured cynicism, and with a sort of appreciation for bankers who destroyed middle class of this country. Unlike him, Taibbi doesn't mince words, or tries to appear coolly above it all. He's, after all, as screwed up as is the rest of us.
105 von 109 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Long Con 7. November 2010
Von Paul E. Richardson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
It is totally appropriate that Griftopia was released on election day. For, as Taibbi shows, elections really don't matter. Democrats and Republicans are all in on the Long Con that has emasculated our political system and made it (and all of us) beholden to Wall Street.

Taibbi cut his journalistic teeth, as it were, in the streets of 1990s Moscow, practicing gonzo journalism as a partner in the anything but PC expat paper "The Exile". So he knows from corruption and dollar politics. And in Griftopia he shows how greed and corruption have saturated the fabric of our political life so completely that we rarely recognize its extent or its chief spokesmen.

Like Alan Greenspan, whom the media painted as a parable-speaking sage, but whom Taibbi shows to be a charlatan bizarrely infatuated with Ayn Rand, and a guy who repeatedly got it wrong (throughout his entire career) about where the economy was headed. Yet Greenspan was perfectly clear about where he wanted the economy to go: decreasing banking/corporate/Wall Street regulation and taxes on the rich. He was, in fact, a chief architect of the hoovering of riches from the working to the monied classes, which Taibbi shows has been the underlying factor in every bubble created over the last 20 years.

The revelations are legion here. Of the insider deals in the 2008 Bailout, of the swindlers behind the housing bubble, of the ridiculously short-sighted trend of covering budget deficits by leasing key municipal assets to foreign sovereign wealth funds, and the trillion dollar sellout that was the Obama healthcare plan.

And Taibbi knows of what he speaks, having spent considerable time reporting directly on the the Tea Party, in Washington and on the campaign trail. As a Rolling Stone correspondent, he is certainly on the liberal end of the spectrum, yet he gores both right and left in Griftopia, and he does it in language that is fully appropriate for the subject matter, calling subjects "beetle-browed, balding types" ... "morons" ... "idiots" ... and plenty of other epithets which are not printable here.

Get this book. Read it. And, if after doing so you are not outraged, then you do not have a pulse.
47 von 48 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Best book I read in 2010 28. Dezember 2010
Von David Miller - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Nearly 12 years ago, my business partner and I created a company to offer independent stock research and stock market commentary. Our only source of income is our subscribers, so we are able to avoid the conflicts of interest that plague the stock market. We watched with increasing horror the "grift" large macro global hedge funds were running on consumers everywhere, but particularly in America. When commodities (particularly gasoline) spiked and sealed the fate of homeowners who had taken on mortgage debt they could handle only in perfectly calm financial seas, we despaired any journalist would get the story of what really happened correct.

Matt Taibbi does, and does so in an endlessly entertaining book. The book has enough inside baseball to amuse market participants. It explains complicated financial transactions better than any source I've ever read, making it suitable -- well, beyond suitable, more like required reading -- for casual investors. If you're into politics from the right or left, this book will especially interest you.

I have only two criticisms...

First, I think Greenspan was more happy passenger than architect. While Bill Fleckenstein was obviously an invaluable source for Mr. Taibbi, Fleck's views on Greenspan are clearly represented here. Also, the seminal declaration from Mr. Greenspan -- the Jackson Hole declaration that the Fed going forward would manage the US economy by managing the US financial markets -- was surprisingly missing.

The second is a little one. Mr. Taibbi does a great job detailing the mortgage debacle. He also courageously tackles the commodity bubble. Both are described fabulously. What he misses is drawing the connection. The global macro funds were trying to break the bond market every year for 3-4 years and couldn't quite get it. They just couldn't reach a tipping point where the damage they caused became self-sustaining. They had initial success in the mortgage market as bond rates were making NINJA loans more difficult and causing pockets of defaults, but couldn't manage to tip that one into the full-scale financial debacle they were shooting for. Then one of them, and I'll leave it up to the reader to guess which by reading the book, realized that running gasoline to $4.50/gallon was the key. Most homeowners on the edge chose houses out in the hinterlands because those were the ones they could afford. Homeowners traded a lower monthly mortgage for higher fuel costs to get to and from work. When gas went to $4.50/gallon, that balance was destroyed. They couldn't get to work AND afford their mortgage. Gasoline was the perfect vehicle because purchases of this commodity, somewhat uniquely, are subtractive to our economy since we import most of the oil and US oil companies offshore significant portions of income outside the reach of US taxes. Missing this connection does not harm the book's thesis, so that's why it is a little criticism.

I cannot emphasize more how this book is suitable for people familiar and unfamiliar with markets and market terminology. If I was still teaching, I'd make it required reading and create assignments that foreced my students to discuss the book with parents and friends. If you care about the financial future of America, you must read this book.
111 von 130 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen 6 Star Game Changer....Maybe 3. November 2010
Von Robert David STEELE Vivas - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
EDIT of 6 Nov 2010 to add "Must Read" Sequel to this book: Journal: Obama Trashing US Dollar & Economy at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog under Popular Posts. Michael Hudson is riveting, and has a track record of being right going back to 1972. Includes links to other compelling updates and facts endorsing this book's conclusions such as Reference: SCREWED--The Roots of Populist Rage.

This is an extraordinary book, combining gifted insights and turns of phrase with serious research that has a point worth fighting for: Wall Street led by Goldman Sachs has ripped off the entire US economy, and they still have most people thinking that politics matters.

It merits comment that while Michael Lewis was first, with Liar's Poker, and was recently quoted as saying he had no idea Wall Street would get away with these obvious high crimes against the public for another 30 years, this author takes us all up another level, weaving in everything--politics, culture, sex, booze, LSD, and the occasional rabbid racoon.

The author is especially deft at observing, documenting, and describing the combination of lunatic ignorance and blessed righteous anger within the Tea Party, at the same time that he points out they have no idea that they have been funded and directed by the very people who have stolen their economy out from under them.

I am especially impressed by the author's understanding of how Wall Street has managed to co-opt the very people they are destroying by leveraging the "shared" view of excessive government regulation. I for one absolutely believe that states should start nullifying federal laws and regulations that impair state-based businesses (e.g. butchers and cabinet-makers). What the people being destroyed do not understand is HOW they are being destroyed by Wall Street, which is essentially eating out the foundation from under them.

QUOTE (32): What has taken place over the last generation is a highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and government. Far from taking care of the rest of us, the financial leaders of America and their political servants have seemingly reached the cynical conclusion that our society is not work saving and have taken on a new mission that involved not creating wealth for us all, but simply absconding with whatever wealth remains in our hollowed out economy. They don't feed us, we feed them.

Despite the sensibility of the above quote, a third of the way through this book I think to myself that we need a Dummies Guide to Grand Theft Wall Street, or a comic book version, because this stuff taxes my brain, I can only imagine what it would do to someone whose chances of buying and reading this book are right up there with the extra-terrestials landing to apologize for the mis-behavior of their "stewards."

Greenspan (and his intellectual or ethical (or not) underpinning Ann Rand) gets his own chapter, "The Biggest Asshole in the Universe," and I confess to being shocked. Although I read a great deal and William Greider is one of my most respected authors to read, this author has a wicked pen that draws blood on every page. This chapter also makes two things clear: that government no longer governs, but rather outsources power to the unelected private sector with its own agenda; and that class rules--its the rich against the rest of us, and we are too stupid to even see this (in enough of a critical mass to make a difference).

QUOTE (53): That's why Alan Greenspan is the key to understanding this generation's financial disaster. He repeatedly used the financial might of the state to jet-fuel the insanely regressive pyramid scheme of the bubble economy [led by Goldman Sachs], which like actual casioons proved to be a highly efficient method for converting the scattered savings of legions of individual schmuck-citizens into the concentrated holdings of a few private individuals.

I am educated by this book in that while I have understood for some time the role played by Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) and his 99 sleazy Senatorial colleagues all too eager to approve 200 pages of deregulation legislation written by lobbyists and inserted five minutes before the vote, I was not aware of the Greenspan-Rubin actions that set the stage to undermine, sidestep, and eventually dismiss the Glass-Steagall Act that kept insurance, investment, and banking houses from merging.

A long chapter, the chapter on Greenspan is devastating, and concludes that Greenspan was in fact a master criminal, that the Greenspan era was not an era of economics run amok, but rather of organized crime running precisely as planned--

QUOTE (77): "bubbles of the sort he oversaw are rigged games with preordained losers and inherently corrupting psychological consequences. You play, you get beat, in more ways than one.

The middle part of the book is a tremendously detailed and well-told tale of how Goldman Sachs and a handful of other companies are nothing more than a criminal network that sucks as much credit from a range of targets as possible, and then burns them to the ground to collect the insurance (or "bailout" in today's parlance). In two chapters, one on the mortgage scams including outright fraud at every step of the way by Moody's and others, the other on the commodities bubble that led to rising gasoline prices and food security issues and food riots world-wide, all for the financial benefit of a small group in New York, the middle of the book assures this book's place in the reference shelves of anyone hoping to excel in leveraged businesses in the future. A third chapter describes in detail about how foreign wealth funds are being encouraged to buy up US infrastructure including toll roads and parking meters, while the US brokers cheat the US sellers by underpricing everything. This is truly a tale of infamy and treason across the board.

I confess to being amazed at the degree to which the author has been able to coherently document the federal government's blatant violation of acts of Congress, and the ease with which waivers, loop-holes, and other work-arounds were executed Of, By, and For Wall Street and against the public interest. This book is therefore an indictment of the federal government, and the varied agencies ostensibly charged with assuring fair and honest trade, but in fact partners in crime with the financial and commodities brokers.

The chapter on the health care swindle is a study in itself, and should be read together with PriceWaterHouseCooper's excellent study, free online in readable form, "The Price of Excess," which outlines how 50% of US healthcare spending, $1.2 trillion out of $2.4 trillion a year, is waste. What shocked me about this chapter was the combination of its superb documentation of how the Obama Administration and a left-right coalition traded away the right to tax Americans for health care to the private sector, in return for campaign financing for the next couple of election cycles, at the same time that each Senator supporting the legislation received $100 million dollar health-related "grants" for their states; and--the second shocker--how the insurance industry has been made immune from federal regulation and oversight.

The final chapter is a fuller version of the original Rolling Stone article that created a firestorm and destroyed "The Narrative" about Goldman making money on brilliance instead of crime. The author is blunt: Goldman Sachs is a "pump and dump" criminal operation, and the author notes with sadness that organized crime will always overcome disorganized democracy, at least as things now stand with asymmetric information and data pathologies (the latter my special interest). I had to read this chapter twice, and while the entire book is superb, this is the chapter I would scan, pdf, and translate into at least 33 languages and all twelve dialects of Arabic.

The larger narrative that the author tells in compelling and occasionally offensive terms is not new--what is new is the level of detail; the clear depiction of a government that works for Wall Street every day of the week and is marginally responsive to We the People only on voting day; and the very high likelihood that because we have a dumbed down inert population, these assholes (the author introduces the word with frequency) are going to get away with it.

I am not so sure. Public intelligence in the public interest in what I do, and I think that 2012 is going to be a year of convergence and emergence. Tangible properties can be reappropriated. Individuals can be hunted down, and I have absolutely no doubt at all that Goldman Sachs has been quick to settle its Chinese and Russian complaints because unlike the US Government, they can and will assassinate the Goldman Sachs executives after first cutting their children into small pieces before their eyes.

This book is perhaps a milestone, it is most assuredly one of the most important books about the US economy and how it has been looted that I have ever read. Below I list nine other books that are recommended, with links, and I provide the text but not the link to some of my lists of lists of reviews I have done, all at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog [links are active in the PBI posting]. The Republican and Democratic parties, and the Bush and Clinton families, are co-conspirators and dues paid members of this class and carpetbagging club. The rest of us are not. Justice will be done--when and how I do not know. What I do know is that the Collective Intelligence of the public is emergent, and that there is no place on the planet for these people to hide.

See also:
Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids
9-11 Descent into Tyranny: The New World Order's Dark Plans to Turn Earth into a Prison Planet
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition
Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography)

Selected Lists of Book Reviews by Robert Steele:
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption
+ Worth a Look: Impeachable Offenses, Modern & Historic
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Institutionalized Ineptitude
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Lack Of)
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Bankruptcy of US Economy, Federal Reserve Malfeasance
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Class War (Global)
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corporate & Transnational Crime
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corporate Lack of Integrity or Intelligence or Both
+ Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Elite Rule

I have never before listed so many lists of lists (over 1,600 books sorted into the first two master lists, all in support of my most recent book, INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainaabilty. I do so here and now because I believe that this book could be a catalyst for inspired accelerated reflection by the Independents that now comprise a voting majority. I believe there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by Electoral Reform (1 page 9 points), and that even in the face of the grevious, despicable, and eternally damning crimes committed by Goldman Sachs and the two political parties, that We the People can create infinite wealth and get over this. The truth, however, must be known. This book is a sensational contribution, and joins the ten percent of books I have reviewed that I rate as 6 stars and beyond.
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