Book Forum

The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

(PublicAffairs, 2013)

April 3, 2013 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM EDT

Hayek Auditorium

Featuring the author David A. Stockman, Former Budget Director, Reagan Administration; moderated by David Boaz, Executive Vice President, Cato Institute.

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The Great Deformation is a searing look at Washington’s fiscal crisis. It counters conventional wisdom with an 80‐​year revisionist history of how the American state — especially the Federal Reserve — has fallen prey to the politics of crony capitalism and the ideologies of fiscal stimulus, monetary central planning, and financial bailouts.

David Stockman points a finger at Franklin Roosevelt, who fathered crony capitalism; Richard Nixon, who destroyed fiscal discipline and the gold‐​backed dollar; Fed chairmen Greenspan and Bernanke, who fostered bubble finance and addiction to debt and speculation; George W. Bush, who repudiated fiscal rectitude and ballooned the warfare state via senseless wars; and Barack Obama, who revived failed Keynesian “borrow and spend” policies that have driven the national debt to perilous heights. He doesn’t spare Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman, either. He’s guaranteed to provoke liberals, conservatives, and libertarians.

Stockman’s analysis skewers Keynesian spenders and GOP tax‐​cutters alike, showing how they converged to bloat the welfare state, perpetuate the military‐​industrial complex, and deplete the revenue base — even as the Fed’s massive money‐​printing binge allowed politicians to enjoy “deficits without tears.” But these policies have also fueled new financial bubbles and favored Wall Street with cheap money and rigged stock and bond markets, while crushing Main Street savers. The Great Deformation explains how we got here and why these crony capitalist policies are an epochal threat to free‐​market prosperity and American democracy.