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I got anxious just reading the book You, Me & The U.S. Economy.
Last Thursday, I had a beautiful dinner at Susan and Richard Casey’s house. The Casey’s co-founded and run Square 1 Bank and have become good friends over the past few years. During dinner we had a wide ranging conversation about a bunch of things “not-tech.” On my way out, Susan handed me a book titled You, Me & The U.S. Economy by her friend Stacy Carlson. I tossed it in my bag along with the book Richard gave me (Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society). I started reading it last night and finished it up today.
It lived up to its subtitle “A Plainspoken Story of Financial Crisis.” The only other book I’ve read on the financial crisis of 2008 was Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail. Amy and I were in the UK on a week off the grid from 9/12/08 to 9/20/08 so we left as the crisis was blossoming and returned to a very different financial superstructure. I found Too Big To Fail to be riveting but felt that it was missing something. After reading You, Me & The U.S. Economy I realized that Sorkin was doing too much storytelling and didn’t really get under the skin of some of the massive intellectual contradictions going on. I think Carlson filled that gap for me without necessarily trying.
Carlson was Paulson’s speechwriter during the financial crisis. The book is told in her voice and describes the events as they unfolded. She does it is clear language (she is a speechwriter after all), is delightfully self-deprecating, and defines and endless array of terms and acronyms in a way that a human can understand. She also gives a somewhat different view of the events from the inside – less drama and inside baseball than Sorkin, but just as much sense of stress, anxiety, and urgency.
If you are interested in the history of the financial crisis, want to understand what it looked like from the inside to someone who was part of the battle but not on the front lines, or just want a dose of anxiety, you’ll enjoy You, Me & The U.S. Economy.