Fate of the States

  • by Meredith Whitney
  • Narrated by Jo Anna Perrin
  • 6 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"Forget everything you think you know about the direction of the American economy, about our growing need for foreign oil, about the rise of the service economy and the decline of American manufacturing. The story of the next 30 years will not be a repeat of the last 30."
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.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A good read / listen

Any additional comments?

This book delves into various state government financial obligations, and gives a good history of the origination of the various policies. The states in the best and worst financial shape are described. If one wants to have a basic understanding of our financial situation, instead of a pretend emotional pile of assumptions that passes for knowledge, please read this to get a piece of the puzzle. (If you have not read dozens of books on economics, this book will still be intelligible. You might also look at Meridith's other works, including USA Inc., a free online presentation ... dated but still relevant.)

Read full review


Too obviously political

I read the reviews and hoped for better from Whitney. I guess she's just too much a Republican but instead of sticking to reality, she puts in a lot of loaded words like government "handouts" and "outrageous" pension payments. She pays lip service to the fact that these are simply competing interests, legitimate on all sides, but can't seem to help herself from creating good guy taxpayers versus greedy pensioners. (I don't even have a pension and I found her ragging on teachers, firefighters and police retirees pretty distasteful. God forbid a teacher or a firefighter or a policeman might retire anything but lower middle-class, apparently. Hearing this from a Wall Street person is just...ugh...Yeah, distasteful.)

Also, apart from her point that the states which were dogs during the housing boom are now doing great because of the oil and gas boom, there's really not much here beyond the painful and difficult pension problem. She seems to have forgotten her early days as an oil and gas analyst (according to Wikipedia) because she really appears to think that an oil and gas economy will transform places like Texas and Nebraska in some fundamental way.

On top of her loaded and politicized terminology, which makes it hard to trust her, this idea that O/G is ever anything but another boom-bust cycle is just weirdly naive. Nebraska will do great as long as the price of oil stays high enough to go for the expensive technology--this is a price per barrel calculation every company makes, something she knows perfectly well. All that has to happen to Nebraska is for the price to fall, with some big new producer or technology or political shift, and that has happened over and over. So let's hope for Nebraska's sake they ARE being frugal now.

Yeah, you can't get a hotel room in Midland TX right now, but I've seen it a ghost town, then a boom town, then a ghost town, then a boom town again. I guess it takes seeing that happen on the ground a few times before you truly comprehend the boom bust cycle of O/G. There is nothing else driving the economies of these middle states she loves so much, so good luck to them when it busts.
Read full review

- Laura

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-20-2013
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio