"The financial crisis is more than a story of complex securities and big banks. It is a global crisis and, for all too many, a personal tragedy. Michael Casey succeeds in making these connections like few others."
Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley and author of Exorbitant Privilege
A global financial system that's dangerously skewed by domestic politics is generating unprecedented wealth for a lucky few but forcing the rest of humanity to fight over the crumbs.
A slew of bestsellers emerged after the 2008 financial collapse to the story of that debacle primarily through the lens of one economy—America's. What all failed to address, however, is how the crisis was provoked by by our increasingly interconnected world economy. The Unfair Trade fills that void with a highly readable account that makes the workings of the global economy accessible to ordinary people, those who are most affected by it.
A full understanding of why the American middle class is stuck in its funk must consider factors such as the "China price" and the challenge it poses to U.S. employers, or the failure of banking regulators to control global banks. Until we recognize all the ways our financial system is distorted—how China's undervalued yuan creates new recruits for Mexican drug gangs, for example, or how the Fed's "quantitative easing" leaves Hong Kong storeowners trapped by rising rents—we will remain under threat of another global economic meltdown. The Unfair Trade explains all this and more.
In a compelling and exhaustively researched narrative reported first-hand from a dozen different countries, seasoned journalist Michael Casey reveals how financial decisions in one region of the world can have outsized, unintended—and sometimes disastrous—impacts on other regions.
Here is but one example: Joe Bonadio, a homeowner in Mt. Vernon, NY, was talked into an interest-only mortgage that ruined him financially. What makes his story so extraordinary is the way Casey connects the dots between Joe, his access to easy credit in the US, and a poorly paid 25-year old Chinese factory worker, all of which are influenced by Chinese government policies that keep its currency undervalued, its exports cheap, and its citizens saving a multitrillion-dollar pool of excess cash.
The sweeping economic shifts provoked by this international financial system are changing the face of Argentina, whose cattle-raising traditions are disappearing as ranchers turn to planting soy beans for a hungry Chinese population; have taken down the economies of Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Greece, and may even decimate the euro; and are driving formerly thriving companies such as a 40 year-old family-owned New Hampshire manufacturer of printed circuit boards to shutter all but the last of its factories.
The Unfair Trade is a wake-up call. It explains how our livelihoods are now, more than ever, beholden to the workings of a vast global system beyond any one country's control, one fraught with inequities and imbalances. America's lagging economic performance is largely caused by policies overseas and at home that discourage global competition and prevent the free market from efficiently allocating resources. Until governments work together to make this system more efficient, the global playing field will remain lopsided, job creation in the West will lag, and our economies will be vulnerable to catastrophe.