peteg's blog - noise - books - 2011 11 02 Lanchester IOU

John Lanchester: I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay

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I picked up this book on the GFC from the UNSW Library on the strength of this review in the New York Times. Lanchester's columns at the London Review of Books are great; for example, his notional review of two books on Murdoch. At book length, however, his prose gets much looser, and the repetition (even within single paragraphs!) killed it for me. I take that to mean that his editors at LRB did not work their magic here.

As is typical with pop accounts of highly technical things, Lanchester gets a few things wrong. As I'm not an economist, that I can pick holes in some of his points (he makes some errors of logic) does not induce confidence in his rendering of the stuff I didn't know about. Sure, he is upfront about the limitations of his metaphors and so forth, but I think he overestimates their utility as the whole space is counter intuitive. His prescriptions for repairing the economy are essentially a return to the banking policies enacted during the Depression and would be familiar to readers of John Quiggin's blog.

His ultimate call for people to say [we have] "enough" suffers from the same myopia that he accuses Keynes of. Still, he must be enjoying the Occupy protests.