Unintended Consequences

  • by Edward Conard
  • Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner
  • 9 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, many commonly held beliefs have emerged to explain its cause. Conventional wisdom blames Wall Street and the mortgage industry for using low down payments, teaser rates, and other predatory tactics to seduce unsuspecting home owners into assuming mortgages they couldn’t afford. It blames average Americans for borrowing recklessly and spending too much. And it blames the tax policies and deregulatory environment of the Reagan and Bush administrations for encouraging reckless risk taking by wealthy individuals and financial institutions. But according to Unintended Consequences, the conventional wisdom masks the real causes of our economic disruption and puts us at risk of a slew of unintended—and potentially dangerous—consequences.
Unintended Consequences is not a book that takes a couple of insights and expands them into 300 pages; rather, it covers the entire scope of the economy. It’s a fascinating and contrarian case for how the economy really works, what went wrong over the past decade, and what steps we can take to start growing again. Whether you agree with the book’s provocative and counterintuitive conclusions or not, Unintended Consequences will reward you with a sophisticated understanding of the contemporary economy—one no other book has yet provided.
Edward Conard was a partner at Bain Capital from 1993 to 2007. He served as the head of Bain’s New York office and led the firm’s acquisitions of large industrial companies. Prior to that he worked for Wasserstein Perella, an investment bank that specialized in mergers and acquisitions. He lives in New York City.


What the Critics Say

"There are an amazing number of good ideas and interesting points made in this book." (Steven Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics)
"Unintended Consequences will be the most talked about economics book in 2012." (Kevin Hassett, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy, American Enterprise Institute)
"Ed Conard’s book presents the most cogent and persuasive analysis of the financial crisis to date." (Andrei Shleifer, Bates Clark Medal winner, Harvard University)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Trickle down on steroids

Most of the analysis in this book is very detailed and mostly correct. The analysis of the recent financial crisis points out many common misconceptions about the crisis and addresses them well. Although the author does give some blame for the crisis to the government, he does not repeat the common uninformed conservative view that it was all or mostly caused by government action. The book is probably better for most people in written form, as there are a LOT of numbers popped around. You have to already have a pretty good understanding of economics and ability to keep a lot of numbers in your head to keep up with the audible.

A couple of nits, the author vacillates between investors being fully aware of the risks they are taking and investors blindly chasing momentum. I find the author also misses several key aspects of the crisis. Investors were lulled into underestimating the risk of the investments believing highly geographically diversified mortgages were very unlikely to have wide ranging defaults. The sellers clearly understood the actual risks. Nevertheless, the buyer should beware. The real issue was institutional depositors massively withdrawing their uninsured deposits when they lost faith in the bank financial books.

Unfortunately near the end of the book, it goes off the rails with the most intense rehashing of trickledown economics I have yet encountered. The rich should not be taxed at all, only the working middle class should be taxed. Indeed, using the author’s analysis it would be wisest to tax the middle class to give cash grants to fund more investment by the rich. The rich (or anyone) should never give anything to charity (like the immoral Bill Gates and Warren Buffet did) as charity is a waste of investable capital. Artists and pure scientist are immoral as it would be better for the economy if they were instead more responsible engineers and computer scientists. At this point I was expecting an intervention of the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Although this book takes some background and focus to understand, it is a book worth reading for two very different reasons. Firstly it is important to dispel the many false ideas about the causes of the financial crisis. Secondly it is important for any voter to really understand what the rich, conservatives really think. The author is a partner at Bain Capital and is a major supporter and fundraiser of the Romney campaign.
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- Michael "I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read."


This book can only be described as outstanding. Mr. Conard has been able to discuss the reasons for the 2008 financial crisis in a clear and concise manner as well as give concrete suggestions for what government policies should entail so that our economy can return to 'normal' post-recession growth rates. While I am a fiscal conservative and believer in the strength of the free market system and therefore bias to Mr. Conard's point of view, I feel that this book should be required reading for all, as even those who believe in more governement intervention in our economy will be forced to reflect on the points that Mr. Conard drives home. While some portions of the books may get a little overly technical for an non-financial person, I feel that anyone with an above average level of intelligence will be able to easily get through those sections and will then be able to understand how Mr. Conard comes to his conclusions. This is one of the most informative and enjoyable books that I have ever read and I congratulate Mr. Conard on his work.
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- Scot

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-07-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.