From economic historian Tooze, a mammoth reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its ten-year aftermath) as a global event that directly led to the shockwaves being felt around the world today.
If journalism is the first rough draft of history, Tooze’s book is the second draft. A distinguished scholar with a deep grasp of financial markets, Tooze knows that it is a challenge to gain perspective on events when they have not yet played out. He points out that a 10-year-old history of the crash of 1929 would have been written in 1939, when most of its consequences were ongoing and unresolved. But still he has persisted and produced an intelligent explanation of the mechanisms that produced the crisis and the response to it ... One of the great strengths of Tooze’s book is to demonstrate the deeply intertwined nature of the European and American financial systems.
Tooze’s expansive, essential account of the crisis and the years that followed narrates the past decade of bankruptcies, bailouts, and stimulus packages. Highlighting the economic interconnectedness the world’s national economies had achieved by 2008, he shows how the crisis turned the abstract idea of a 'global' economy into something unhappily concrete ... As he does with the crisis itself, Tooze gives the 'technical and contentious business” of international finance a weight, a form, and a texture—not easy, given how wedded it is to its own abstraction. At its core he finds a set of unresolved contradictions: between national sovereignty and supranational governance, between local laws and global regulations, between running a country and planning the world.
He connects the mortgage crisis to the American banking crisis to the European debt crisis to the crisis of liberalism. Brexit, Trump, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and China’s ever-escalating role in the financial system: Tooze covers them all and much more, in a volume that’s as lively as it is long — which is to say very, on both counts ... On the apparent Democratic distaste for conflict, Tooze is quietly scathing...Democratic centrism won the (financial) war but lost the (political) peace. To judge from Trump’s ascendancy, along with the historical evidence so scrupulously marshaled in Crash, Tooze is right ... One of the great virtues of this bravura work of economic history is how much attention it devotes to issues of power.