Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi
Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America is a 2010 book by the political journalist Matt Taibbi about the events that led to the financial crisis of 2008.
It argues that the crisis was not an accident of the free market but the result of a complex and ongoing politico-financial process taking place in the United States whereby wealth and power is transferred to a super-rich “grifter class” that holds a grip on the political process. The book has been described as a “necessary … corrective” of the assertion that bubbles are inevitable in the market system and contests the notion that the greed of the American consumer was a primary cause of the problem.
Taibbi maintains that “all of us, conservatives and progressives, are being bled dry by a tiny oligarchy of extremely clever criminals and their castrato henchmen in government.”
The dramatic story behind the most audacious power grab in American history
The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn’t past but prologue. The stunning rise, fall, and rescue of Wall Street in the bubble-and-bailout era was the coming-out party for the network of looters who sit at the nexus of American political and economic power. 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 for a generation, transferring wealth upward through increasingly complex financial mechanisms and political maneuvers. The crisis was only one terrifying manifestation of how they’ve hijacked America’s political and economic life.
Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi here unravels the whole fiendish story, digging beyond the headlines to get into the deeper roots and wider implications of the rise of the grifters. He traces the movement’s origins to the cult of Ayn Rand and her most influential—and possibly weirdest—acolyte, Alan Greenspan, and offers fresh reporting on the backroom deals that decided the winners and losers in the government bailouts. He uncov
ers the hidden commodities bubble that transferred billions of dollars to Wall Street while creating food shortages around the world, and he shows how finance dominates politics, from the story of investment bankers auctioning off America’s infrastructure to an inside account of the high-stakes battle for health-care reform—a battle the true reformers lost. Finally, he tells the story of Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.”
Taibbi has combined deep sources, trailblazing reportage, and provocative analysis to create the most lucid, emotionally galvanizing, and scathingly funny account yet written of the ongoing political and financial crisis in America. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the labyrinthine inner workings of politics and finance in this country, and the profound consequences for us all.
Editorial Reviews From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Taibbi eviscerates Wall Street for what he considers frauds perpetrated on the American people over the last ten years. Deftly delving deeply into complicated financial history and lingo, Taibbi deftly lays the subject bare, rendering heretofore-dense subject matter simple without being simplistic. Blame for the recent mortgage collapse, commodities bubble, and tech bubble are laid at the feet of a relatively small number of bankers and traders who, in the author’s opinion, act without fear of reciprocity from a U.S. government no longer representative of the American people. He begins by awarding the title “Biggest Asshole In The Universe” to former-Fed Chief Alan Greenspan, taking him to task for willfully or stupidly disemboweling what little regulation the financial markets may have had before his tenure. This theme resounds throughout, and Taibbi asserts that the collusion between Wall Street and the White House has effectively turned the United States into a massive casino, in which working Americans are regularly bilked out of their savings and homes while the wealthy are repeatedly rewarded for their graft. It’s an important and worthy read, but not for the Randian disciple or Goldman-Sachs alum. (Nov.)
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*Starred Review* Rolling Stone contributing editor Taibbi delivers a blistering examination of the upheaval that has roiled the American economic system over the past several years. At the heart of the upheaval, he says, is a vein of greed running up and down the real-estate industry, from mortgage brokers who falsified customer loan applications to banks that parceled out mortgages to second and third parties to rating agencies that signed off on highly suspect loans. Taibbi saves a good deal of venom for former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, arguing that Greenspan’s philosophy of easy cash, limited government oversight of markets, and bailing out “too big to fail” financial institutions all fueled the recent economic meltdown. And Taibbi profiles a recently passed health-care bill severely compromised by an all-powerful insurance lobby. As critical as he is of the process—a process not likely to get fixed any time soon—he doesn’t seem to carry an agenda; instead, like any good investigative reporter, he mostly follows his nose. –Alan Moores –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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