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One of the most respected voices on Wall Street, Meredith Whitney shot to global prominence in 2007 when her warnings of a looming crisis in the financial sector proved all too prescient. Now, in her first book, she expands upon her biggest call since the financial crisis.
Whitney points out that it wasn't just consumers who binged on debt for the past 20 years but state and local governments, too. She explains how the fiscal sins of the past are beginning to transform the U.S. economy along regional lines. And she shows how we are moving into a new era in which wealth, power, and opportunity flow away from the coasts and toward the central corridor.
The housing boom was initially great for states such as California, Nevada, and Florida. State and municipal coffers overflowed, unemployment shrank, and local governments spent their tax revenue windfalls on pay hikes and pension increases for their public employees. But when the boom dried up in those parts of the country, so too did the tax revenues, forcing tax rate hikes and cuts to essential public services - especially education and infrastructure.
In contrast to those doom-and-gloom headlines, a much different trend was developing in interior states such as North Dakota, Indiana, and Texas. They survived the housing crisis relatively unscathed, avoiding mass foreclosures and budgetary chaos. As a result they've had the money to retrain workers and offer tax incentives to companies willing to relocate. Coupled with the recent booms in natural gas and oil extraction and a resurgence in manufacturing, these states are poised to become the new powerhouses of the American economy.
Whitney offers a sobering vision of the next few decades, with the coastal states continuing to struggle while the central corridor continues to thrive. She explores the consequences of roughly half the country stuck in a vicious cycle of decline while the other half enjoys a virtuous circle of growth. Whitney also offers practical ideas to help the struggling parts of the country - before the fate of the states becomes irreversible.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lynnore on 09-12-13
Statistic Overload.Grateful to the Narrator.
What made the experience of listening to Fate of the States the most enjoyable?
I actually tried to read the hardcover version of this book first and decided to try the audiobook to see if it improved my perspective. I didn't finish reading the actual hardcover because there are so many statistics that I began to feel I was reading a scientific journal. I was happiest with the audio book. The book is a compendium of dry facts and figures which might have made my head explode if not for the expertise of the narrator. Ms. Whitney's book is part topical and part historical which makes reading it in book form a little jarring and slow. It seems she can't decide if she should be the statistician she is, or rope us in by colloquial banter. It often times feels as if it is 2 books. All that being said, when Ms. Whitney is less formal, she presents an interesting look at how the corridor states, the fly-over states, have survived the economic downturn since 2008 in much better condition than the rest of the country. Is she right? Thought provoking, I felt. Time will tell.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
I would have had Ms. Whitney drop some of the statistical double-speak.
What does Jo Anna Perrin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Clarity! She did an excellent job of keeping the dry material going, and switching in and out of the statistics with ease.One paragraph alone, had at least 6 sets of trillion dollar figures.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, way too much to digest.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Jerry on 07-10-13
Not quite what comes after the colon:
I should have listened to the reviewers, but at least it is a decent rehash about what ails the USA. What the author proposes to solve the problems are warmed over, better yet, tepid discussions of Reagan era, totally progressive mainstream Republican solutions: Good budgeting, privatization and taking on the unions.
In her analysis, the reason the coming prosperity stems from her growth corridor not doing the stupid things (debt: present and future) that happened in the housing boom states. She seems to be oblivious to the reality that the housing bubble really did happen in an easy money bubble caused by the Federal Reserve and people in her line of work, lined their pocket with this lucre.
Booms and busts happen, and just because politicians and investors in search of yields do stupid things in good times, doesn't address the structural problem that lingering consumer debt is a more serious drag on present growth (260% of GDP) than wishing and hoping those slothful politicians can or will do a better job next time.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful