Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2011 - Business & Economics - 464 pages
16 Reviews
A vividly told history of how greed bred America’s economic ills over the last forty years, and of the men most responsible for them.

As Jeff Madrick makes clear in a narrative at once sweeping, fast-paced, and incisive, the single-minded pursuit of huge personal wealth has been on the rise in the United States since the 1970s, led by a few individuals who have argued that self-interest guides society more effectively than community concerns. These stewards of American capitalism have insisted on the central and essential place of accumulated wealth through the booms, busts, and recessions of the last half century, giving rise to our current woes.

In telling the stories of these politicians, economists, and financiers who declared a moral battle for freedom but instead gave rise to an age of greed, Madrick traces the lineage of some of our nation’s most pressing economic problems. He begins with Walter Wriston, head of what would become Citicorp, who led the battle against government regulation. He examines the ideas of economist Milton Friedman, who created the plan for an anti-Rooseveltian America; the politically expedient decisions of Richard Nixon that fueled inflation; the philosophy of Alan Greenspan, on whose libertarian ideology a house of cards was built on Wall Street; and the actions of Sandy Weill, who constructed the largest financial institution in the world, which would have gone bankrupt in 2008 without a federal bailout of $45 billion. Significant figures including Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, Jack Welch, and Ronald Reagan play key roles as well.

Intense economic inequity and instability is the story of our age, and Jeff Madrick tells it with style, clarity, and an unerring command of his subject.

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Review: Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

User Review  - Lachinchon - Goodreads

Although Madrick states, "The collapse was the product of decisions of individuals, set upon making fortunes and becoming one of the kings of the mountain, not an inevitable failure of a system", it ... Read full review

Review: Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

User Review  - Leland William - Goodreads

This is a good book although a bit technical for the laymen. Madrick's thesis is that the preponderance of financial crises in the past 4 decades (defaults on third world debt in 1982, the stock ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Jeff Madrick is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, a former economics columnist for The New York Times, and editor of Challenge magazine. He is an adjunct professor of humanities at The Cooper Union, and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School. His previous books include The End of Affluence and Taking America, and he has written for The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Institutional Investor, The Nation, and The American Prospect. He lives in New York City.

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