The Death of Capital: How Creative Policy Can Restore Stability

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9780470466506: The Death of Capital: How Creative Policy Can Restore Stability
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In The Death of Capital, respected portfolio manager and longtime investment professional Michael Lewitt looks at how the U.S. economy has increasingly been dominated by short-term speculation rather than industrial expansion in recent years. These disastrous trends, described here as financialization, ignore the fact that capital itself is a highly unstable process rather than a fixed object or category. As a result of our failure to understand the true nature of capital, we have developed a financial and regulatory system that does exactly the opposite of what it should be doing—favoring obscurity over transparency and fomenting instability rather than growth.

In explaining where we have gone wrong Lewitt pulls few punches in criticizing some of the counterproductive forces that have led to the death of capital—including Wall Street practices such as private equity and derivatives trading—which he views both as economically unproductive and morally misguided. Page by informative page, this timely guide:

  • Addresses "financialization" and its consequences, such as a weaker U.S. dollar, the destruction of American industries, and the loss of American economic and political influence
  • Explores the most important aspects of capital and capitalism through the prism of four of the world’s great economic thinkers
  • Discusses how the legal system aided economic weakening by privileging short-term investment goals
  • Calls for politically controversial reforms such as stricter regulation of hedge funds and private equity firms, banning naked credit default swaps and Structured Investment Vehicles, and principles-based reforms to improve systemic stability

Financial reform is needed to make sure capital does not die again. Filled with in-depth insights and practical advice, The Death of Capital is not just a play-by-play of the recent financial crisis, but an original and passionate analysis of the trends that led to it and what can be done in a regulatory sense to address the problems.

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From the Inside Flap:

While some semblance of stability has returned to the financial markets, the economies on which these markets must ultimately depend remain structurally weak, and the path toward sustained growth will be difficult. In order to set the economy on a sounder path, we need to understand the sources of instability that caused the failure of the financial system, rethink established ideas, and challenge the intellectual and moral authority of the institutions that control the world's capital. The system is badly broken and we must figure out how to fix it before it is too late.

Written by respected portfolio manager and longtime investment professional Michael Lewitt, The Death of Capital looks at how, in recent years, the U.S. economy has increasingly been dominated by?short-term speculation?rather than productive investment, debt rather than equity, and short-term thinking rather than long-term planning. These disastrous trends, described here as "financialization," ignore the fact that capital is a highly unstable social process rather than a fixed, historical object or category. As a result of our failure to understand the true nature of capital, we have developed a financial and regulatory system that does exactly the opposite of what it should be doing—favoring obscurity over transparency and fomenting instability rather than a stable path to growth.

In explaining where we have gone wrong, Lewitt pulls few punches in criticizing some of the counterproductive forces that have led to the death of capital—including Wall Street practices such as private equity and derivatives trading—which he views both as economically unproductive and morally bankrupt. Page by informative page, this timely guide:

  • Explores the most important aspects of capital and capitalism through the prism of four of the world's great economic thinkers

  • Addresses "financialization" and?its consequences, such as a weaker U.S. dollar, the decline of American industries, and the loss of American economic and political hegemony

  • Examines how the legal system contributed to?economic deterioration by privileging short-term profitability above other important societal interests such as labor, the environment, and social welfare

  • Calls for politically controversial reforms such

  • as stricter regulation of hedge funds and private equity firms, banning naked credit default swaps and off-balance sheet financing vehicles, imposition of a Tax on Speculation, and principles-based reforms to improve systemic stability

  • And much more

Filled with in-depth insights and practical advice, The Death of Capital is not just a play-by-play of the recent financial crisis, but also an original and passionate analysis of the trends that led to it and how the financial system can be reformed to avoid future crises.

From the Back Cover:

Praise for the Death of Capital

"In an era of books on the financial crisis, this one is a significant standout. Michael demonstrates a keen understanding of the factors that led to the financial abuses of the past decade and equally importantly advances sound ideas for financial reform. A very engaging and worthwhile read!"

–Leon G. Cooperman, Chairman and CEO, Omega Advisors, Inc.

"Michael Lewitt is a very thoughtful presenter of facts and conclusions in his regular market letter. He has identified and clarified the conditions [that] are impacting global capital markets. This book belongs on the reading list of every serious investor."

–David Kotok, cofounder, Cumberland Advisors, and coauthor, Invest in Europe Now!

"Michael Lewitt describes how financial technology became the tool that almost destroyed the very system it was designed to protect. This book is both passionate and logical."

–Christopher Wood, Equity Strategist, CLSA, Editor, Greed & Fear

"Michael provides a serious, comprehensive study of the problems facing the United States and other countries and a synopsis of what created the intractable financial problems."

–Bill King, Editor, The King Report, and author, Wall Street Bull

"An essential read for capitalists . . . which we all should be in America. This book highlightsthe often overlooked fact that the machinery of our system works on math and marketing."

–Mark Stevens, CEO, MSCO-The Art and Science of Growing Businesses; author, Your Marketing Sucks

"This is the right book at the right time by the right person. Combining a sophisticated understanding of markets and informed ethical criticism, Michael presents the most insightful analysis of the recent financial crisis. The Death of Capital is required reading for anyone who wants to understand how the mistakes of the past will shape the future."

–Mark C. Taylor, Chair, Department of Religion, Columbia University

"The Death of Capital is essential reading. It describes, in cogent and graceful prose, how it was all too predictable that the capitalist system—for all outward appearances at the peak of its power—would end up on life support. That achievement alone makes it a masterpiece in this era of those who claim the crisis was a 'black swan' or '1,000-year flood.' Michael also sets out in stark and sometimes harsh terms the new policies he sees as necessary to save capital from capitalism."

–Kate Welling, Editor, welling@weeden

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