Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis (Portfolio) (英語) ハードカバー – 2011/11/10
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In 1971, President Nixon imposed national price controls and took the United States off the gold standard, an extreme measure intended to end an ongoing currency war that had destroyed faith in the U.S. dollar. Today we are engaged in a new currency war, and this time the consequences will be far worse than those that confronted Nixon.
Currency wars are one of the most destructive and feared outcomes in international economics. At best, they offer the sorry spectacle of countries' stealing growth from their trading partners. At worst, they degenerate into sequential bouts of inflation, recession, retaliation, and sometimes actual violence. Left unchecked, the next currency war could lead to a crisis worse than the panic of 2008.
Currency wars have happened before-twice in the last century alone-and they always end badly. Time and again, paper currencies have collapsed, assets have been frozen, gold has been confiscated, and capital controls have been imposed. And the next crash is overdue. Recent headlines about the debasement of the dollar, bailouts in Greece and Ireland, and Chinese currency manipulation are all indicators of the growing conflict.
As James Rickards argues in Currency Wars, this is more than just a concern for economists and investors. The United States is facing serious threats to its national security, from clandestine gold purchases by China to the hidden agendas of sovereign wealth funds. Greater than any single threat is the very real danger of the collapse of the dollar itself.
Baffling to many observers is the rank failure of economists to foresee or prevent the economic catastrophes of recent years. Not only have their theories failed to prevent calamity, they are making the currency wars worse. The U. S. Federal Reserve has engaged in the greatest gamble in the history of finance, a sustained effort to stimulate the economy by printing money on a trillion-dollar scale. Its solutions present hidden new dangers while resolving none of the current dilemmas.
While the outcome of the new currency war is not yet certain, some version of the worst-case scenario is almost inevitable if U.S. and world economic leaders fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Rickards untangles the web of failed paradigms, wishful thinking, and arrogance driving current public policy and points the way toward a more informed and effective course of action.
“One of the most urgent books of the fall.”
—Mike Allen, Politico
“Let’s hope he’s wrong.”
“Rickards . . . has written one of the scariest books I’ve read this year. Though I was tempted at first to dismiss him as alarmist, his intelligent reasoning soon convinced me that we have more to fear than fear itself. Part history, part primer and analysis, the text covers topics ranging from the “misuse of economics” to complexity theory. The pieces, although disparate, fit together snugly, as in one of those mystery jigsaw puzzles that come with clues in lieu of cover art. The picture that emerges is dark yet comprehensive and satisfying.”
“Unsettling . . . fascinating . . . a thorough analysis of how nations have manipulated their currencies . . . with disastrous consequences.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Buy Currency Wars if you want to learn the history and language of the global currency markets and the political economy which they support.”
—Chris Whalen, Ritholtz.com
“Jim Rickards highlights dangerous dynamics between national security and the international financial markets. What we assumed was firm ground under our feet is more like the narrowing point of a precipice. Our politicians, national security experts, and financial markets, each chasing carrots dangling in front of them, fail to see that they are leading America right off the edge.”
—Charles A. Duelfer, former special adviser to the director of the CIA; author of Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq
“Put on your flak vest and helmet and enter the dangerous battlefield of global finance. Jim Rickards takes you through a captivating roller-coaster ride—the past, the present, and a look at the problematical future of our ongoing currency wars.”
—Rear Admiral (Ret.) Stephen H. Baker, chief of staff, Fifth Fleet; recipient, Distinguished Service Medal商品の説明をすべて表示する
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The main theme of the book is that the world is already heading toward a full-blown currency war which will bring even harsher economic turmoil to the world economy than the one we experienced in the last three years since the housing bubble burst in the U.S.
Rickards explores in depth, basing his arguments on past currency wars such as the one after WW1 between several European countries and the U.S., and why currency wars are a lose-lose situation. In short, Rickards's main argument is that countries around the world are devaluing their currencies in order to boost their exports (domestically produced goods and services will be cheaper for foreigners) thereby increasing their GDP. However, such actions will frequently be met by mutual currency devaluation by other countries or by some protectionist policy such as tariffs. Therefore, countries will gain a temporary advantage until other countries retaliate, the end result of which will be: inflation brought on from currency devaluation, protectionism and the halt of free trade, thus - wealth destruction. And in a worst case scenario, an outright military conflict.
As was mentioned above, I found Rickards's thesis to be well argued and backed with plenty of historical facts. To sum up, this book just has it all, great and engaging writing, fascinating economic history, and shrewd analysis of the current and coming global crisis.
1. The aggregate demand equation i.e. C+I+G+NE = GDP
2. The law of diminishing returns
3. The spending multiplier effect & its current failure
4. The geopolitical morass & ramifications of certain heavyweight nations' decisions
5. The abuse of fiscal & monetary policies
6. Complexity theory
7. The concept of money = energy
8. The spy den of Dubai (Comparable to Casablanca during WW2 & Berlin during the cold war)
9. The ultimate conclusion: paper, gold or chaos
For an economics junkie like myself, this gives me a reason to wake up in the morning. I do not give a damn what happens to the prices of hard assets, they are more secure than paper assets at this stage of the game. My money is on chaos because I do believe that this world is predominantly non-linear & so when things turn really bad, it could take the vast majority by surprise & there will be panic/non decision-making if this occurs.
We are really at the end of empire as far as the USA is concerned. It reminds me of the Roman empire at the beginning of the AD era. We are reaching our limits to growth & this debt overhang is keeping us from progressing constructively.
Thank you Mr Rickards for your contribution in this field. A much enjoyed read. I recommend it to anyone.
Drawbacks? This is an esoteric, complex arena of discussion. I have much more formal "economics" training than most, and I was scratching my head on a number of occasions. This is certainly not a flaw of this book. It was well written, and as clearly written as the subject matter allowed. But, it is a step or two above light evening reading.
Two highlights: I found the author's integration of "chaos" or "Complexity Theory" a fascinating and somewhat surprising approach to the stated problem of the book. In so doing, he has opened up what may prove to be a very fruitful avenue for further explanation and critique.
A second highlight and fascinating window on the problem was the author's personal experiences around military "war-gaming" using currency manipulations as a strategy. Really illustrates the problem well.
Admittedly, I do not understand all the intricacies of national and international banking. But the chapters on currency manipulation as a military strategy, and the chapter on "Complexity Theory" are alone worth the read. Having said that, the rest of the book is still very well structured and written. A must read for anyone seriously interested in really understanding the current global financial situation. If you are like me, you will come away from this book with a few good answers - but also many more questions than you started with. But they will be really good questions!
As a result, the offered solutions are also equally impractical that overlook their possible failures, side effects and transitional implementation problems. More importantly, the solutions offered are naive in that there is little attention paid to how the global economy can get there without all agreeing to them being the best way because of discussions like in this book. Similarly, the author's discussions on possible consequences of current policies are one dimensional. Overall, the book could work as a good overview for non-professionals but this is far from a path-breaking or detailed work.
The positives of the book are in the easy to understand and fluid descriptions of events of the thirties and the Seventies. However, when a similar treatment is applied to the current affairs, it appears devoid of the effects of many other mega-trends.
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