You may know Charles Ferguson as the director and writer of the 2010 Academy Award winning documentary Inside Job, which examined the financial crisis from 2007-2010. If you watched that documentary and liked it and agreed with it, then this book is for you. Predator Nation is essentially a book follow-up/extension to Inside Job. It’s also a book the left will love and eat up as gospel, so if you’re a liberal then you should buy this book as you’ll definitely enjoy it.
There are a few ways I could take this review; I could use this as an opportunity to speak against the message of the book (which I’ll get too), or I could put my differences aside and give proper review of the book and not the message itself (although that obviously will play a factor in my overall rating). Since I’m not the type to trash something because I disagree with it, I’ll go the later route first.
To Mr. Ferguson’s credit, Predator Nation is a well-written book. It’s an easy read, and will be even easier for those who view the world through the same perspective as the author. It does look at the financial industry and bubbles bursting and alleged criminality, but it’s never overly complicated for the average person to understand nor completely dumb-downed like the author thinks the readers will be stupid. It’s also an extremely well sourced book; there’s 18 pages of notes and source materials for anything you’ll want to look up for yourself to see where he’s pull his information from.
However, as well-written and sourced as the book is, it isn’t something I can highly recommend. If you’re a liberal who likes to read books of this nature, it’s a no-brainer. If you’re an Occupy Wall Street supporter, buy this book; you’ll love it too.
Yes, Mr. Ferguson criticizes both political parties as being partly to blame (in the “didn’t do enough” sense) for the financial crisis, and he calls out Barack Obama for his in-actions too. Of course the flip to that is the last page of the actual text, where Charles recommends that the reader “hold your nose and vote for him (Obama)” because he will be doing that. Apparently, President Obama is the “least of the available evils.” Personally, I recommend people to simply note vote for evil at all; something that could easily be accomplished by supporting Ron Paul. I could have also done without the authoring trying to tell me who to vote for.
A couple of things here: I am absolutely being fair to Mr. Ferguson, but anyone who reads this site knows that almost everyone on staff, myself more than anyone, absolutely supports Dr. Paul 100%. I’m not a “Paul-tard” trashing a book because that’s what those “ignorant” Ron Paul supporters “do,” but I absolutely do take issue and slight offense to one of the closing remarks in the book: “On the one hand, the fact that Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin could become major national figures, much less be taken seriously as candidates for the president of the United States, is worrisome,” and the follow-up sentence that says the majority of Americans “seem not to understand the importance of education.”
I can agree completely with every name there but one, which is easy enough to figure out. What I find worrisome is that he includes Ron Paul, the one candidate from either party who understands the issue and was warning everyone throughout the previous decade all the way through the 2008 and election and still to this day, and yet doesn’t include Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney in this list. I mean Santorum is completely insane, and it’s not worrisome that he could be taken serious as a presidential candidate? As far as education goes, it’s definitely important. However it is government that has ruined it.
I can look past the fact that the author clearly doesn’t like Ron Paul, even though the subtitle of the book includes the term “political corruption” when we all know Dr. Paul is the one politician who is completely incorruptible. What I can’t look past when it comes to whether or not I should recommend this book is part of the message and the diagnosis for the problems outlined.
Is there a problem with the American system? Absolutely, anyone can see that. The answer isn’t Occupy Wall Street though. Just like in Inside Job, Predator Nation traces the problems back to the 1980s and blames everything on deregulation (and here I thought problems could date back all the way to 1913 and the 1970s when we got off the gold standard). As far as the author is concerned, if only the government would have done more, this mess wouldn’t have happened. The book also spends a ton of time essentially demonizing bankers and investors who made a ton of money doing supposedly criminal things and how the top 1% are just sucking the life out of the 99%. Basically, things aren’t fair and we need equality in America. The rich should be taxed more and bankers should be tossed in prison for the crime of making money through risky endeavors at the expense of gullible people.
In the midst of all this, the book doesn’t lay much blame on Federal Reserve policies. Sure, it complains about the government and Fed supposedly deregulating everything, but it never points the finger at Federal Reserve policy and its moral hazard. The book seems to strongly support more government control of the financial sector, which is obviously something socialist would appreciate but not something that would be a good thing.
The main thing you’ll come away from is basically the same thing as if you watched Inside Job: deregulation, deregulation, and more deregulation. Deregulation is the root of all our problems despite the fact that the book doesn’t really present anything to show that there actually was any sort of relevant deregulation occurring. Here’s a question for you: Do you know what caused the bubble that led to the crisis in 2008? In Charles Ferguson’s world the answer is two things; “consolidation” and, you guessed it, “deregulation.” It had nothing to do with Federal Reserve policy and artificially low interest rates and easy credit. It had nothing to do with pushing a narrative that anyone could have a nice house even-though they couldn’t actually pay for it. It’s all about deregulation that wasn’t actually happening and greed, and absolutely nothing to do with loose monetary policy or the fact that the risk the lenders were taken on where guaranteed to be covered by the government and the Fed.
I can agree with some Mr. Ferguson’s assertions; there are a lot of people who should be thrown in prison. It’s not just the bankers, and some investors and some executives though. There’s a whole bunch of people in Washington that deserve a small little cell on both sides of the political spectrum; oddly enough most of them are Council on Foreign Relations members (which Ferguson is a member of). The Alan Greenspan’s and Ben Bernanke’s need to be locked in a cell too, as the Fed certainly played the biggest role in the mess.
Like I said, this is a well-written book and it is definitely worth a read if you’re in too this kind of material. Just know what you’re getting into. The author is obviously a far Left guy who is all about big government and the need for strict regulation and tough antitrust laws; I’m completely the opposite as I have no problem being called an anarcho-capitalist. Depending on what side you’re on, you’ll either love this or hate it. Personally, I don’t mind reading stuff that I disagree with and think to be completely wrong, so I was able to get some enjoyment out of this (I admit, I laughed several times).
CAUTIOUSLY RECOMMENDED,which just means its worth reading but I caution you on the subject matter. This recommendation also comes with an aside reading material; It’s important to be informed on all sides, so if you take the cautious recommendation and purchase this book, then go ahead and purchase Meltdown by Thomas Woods too and read both of them and make up your own mind.
On the back of the book you’ll see a quote by Elliott Spitzer (which itself clues you in on who this book is for), who says, “The definitive financial crisis book has now been written.” Hardly. A well-written book? Yes. The definitive financial crisis book? No, not a chance and not even close at that.
Predator Nation will be released on May 22nd. Click here to purchase it from Amazon.com.
Predator Nation gets a three out of five: SATISFYING.
A copy of this book was provided for review.