The Unfair Trade
How Our Broken Global Financial System Destroys the Middle Class
By Michael J. Casey
(Crown Business, Hardcover, 9780307885302, 416pp.)
Publication Date: May 29, 2012
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A wake-up call for middle class Americans who feel trapped in a post-crisis economic slump, The Unfair Trade is a riveting exposé of the vast global financial system whose flaws are the source of our economic malaise. Our livelihoods are now, more than ever, beholden to the workings of its imbalances and inequities.
The trillions of dollars that make up the flow of international finance—money that is often steered away from the people who deserve it the most—have not just undermined the lives of working and middle class Americans. It is a world-wide phenomenon that is changing the culture of Argentina; destroying the factory system in Northern Mexico, enabling drug cartels to recruit thousands of young men into their gangs; that has taken down the economies of Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Greece, and possibly Italy; and is driving American companies such as a 60-year-old family owned manufacturer of printed circuit boards to shutter all but one of its factories.
Veteran journalist Michael Casey has traveled the world—from China to Iceland, Spain to Argentina, Indonesia to Australia—recounting extraordinary stories about ordinary people from one continent to another whose lives are inextricably linked. By tracing the flow of money and goods across the world, he illustrates how an American homeowner’s life is shaped by the same economic and social policies that determine those of a low wage migrant worker on an assembly line in China. This combination of financial acumen, narrative-driven reporting, and compelling story-telling gives The Unfair Trade a unique human angle.
Casey shows that our economic problems are largely caused by political agendas that prevent the free market from encouraging fair competition and impeding the allocation of resources. Until governments work together to make this global system more efficient—until China removes incentives for its citizens to save excessively, for example, or the U.S. ends the de facto subsidies enjoyed by politically powerful banks—the global playing field will remain lopsided, job creation will lag, and our economies will be vulnerable to new crises.
MICHAEL J. CASEY is a managing editor and columnist covering global financial markets at Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal. He is a regular commentator on the Wall Street Journal’s News Hub and a frequent guest on Fox Business. Previously he was the Dow Jones bureau chief and principal correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Argentina. He lives in Pelham, NY.
"We’re in a global financial crisis, and Casey has written a truly global book about the winners and losers. The Unfair Trade not only makes an impressive journalistic effort at explaining how a broken international financial system affects ordinary people around the world but Casey also offers a set of policies for building a more balanced system that will restore trust―and be better prepared to handle the next crisis. I learned a lot from this remarkable book." ―Hernando de Soto, author of The Mystery of Capital and chairman of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, Peru
"A compelling indictment of our global financial system. If you think the size, structure, and incentives of our biggest banks are not a cause for concern, you have not been paying attention. Michael Casey will set you straight." ―Simon Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of 13 Bankers and White House Burning
"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 Wall Street Journal managing editor and columnist explains how the distorted policies underlying the global financial system undermine the Average Joes of all nations…A well-reported, deeply serious appraisal of the exceptional damage a dysfunctional system inflicts.” —Kirkus