The key take-home message that Altman delivers through this book is that we live in an interconnected world and we neglect this axiomatic truth at our economic peril. Altman does a nice job of explaining some very complex concepts (credit default swaps, currency futures, and trading among several other complex financial jargon) in terms that any educated layperson can understand. The author essentially picks a random day in 2005–June 15th– and discusses how business transactions around the world are all interlinked and how a ripple in East-Timor’s energy economy has an impact in Italy or India and vice-versa.
What is conspicuously missing is any stargazing about the then impending global economic depression. A chapter discussing the subprime mortgages would have been prescient. Of course, that wasn’t the intent of the book, and with all due credit to the author–hindsight is 20-20, but it did feel like a miss by the author.
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The most interesting chapter of the book is the one on credit markets and currencies. With simple yet illustrative examples the author paints a great picture of how truly the connected the world has become. If there is inflation in UK, people around the world choose to buy products from elsewhere. With reduced demand the value of the Pound falls further. It is a slippery slope from there on. Such phenomena were seen around the world in countries such as Turkey. The last chapter about how disruptive shocks could sometimes strengthen the economy is quite interesting as well.
As the author admits, it is a piecing together of some events around the globe on that random chosen day. I was not entirely riveted to the book, its a decent read nevertheless. My rating is 2.5/5