The Only Game in Town: Central Banks, Instability, and Avoiding the Next Collapse

Mohamed A. El-Erian. Random, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9762-0
El-Erian, former CEO of investment firm Pimco, sets the stage for his well-informed, if sometimes overstretched, argument with a Larry Summers quote: "The world has largely exhausted the scope for central bank improvisation as a growth strategy." Central banks have pulled the world out of the Great Recession, but the critical task of creating sustainable global economic growth—not temporary money bubbles—remains. If governments don't accomplish this, they risk opening a geopolitical Pandora's Box: generational joblessness; worsening inequality; eroding institutional credibility; political dysfunction; and financial excess. El-Erian's formula for avoiding this is reduced to four basic prescriptions: seriously address economic growth; match ability and willingness to spend; reduce the burden of debt; and improve policy coordination. El-Erian is at his best when he sticks to what he knows: finance. But his thesis is that finance only takes you so far, so his book's last section finds him verging into trendy but less relevant territory with references to "cognitive diversity" and quotes from Sheryl Sandberg. These passages tend to deviate from his usual intellectual rigor with Oprah-like feel-good mantras. Nonetheless, this is a prescient warning against our current overreliance on central banks—and a call to action toward building a sustainable global economy. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 01/26/2016
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-300-22253-1
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-8129-8730-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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