As individuals, companies, and countries struggle to recover from the economic crisis, many are narrowly focused on forecasts for the next week, month, or quarter. Yet they should be asking what the global economy will look like in the years to come—where will the long-term risks and opportunities arise? These are the questions that Daniel Altman confronts in his provocative and indispensable book.
The fate of the global economy, Altman argues, will be determined by deeper factors than those that move markets from moment to moment. His incisive analysis brings together hidden trends, societal pressures, and policy endgames to make 12 surprising but logical predictions about the years ahead. And his forecasts for the future raise a pressing question for today: with so many challenges awaiting us, are our political and economic institutions up to the task?
Outrageous Fortunes shows which industries will grow, which economies will crumble, which investments will pay off, and where the next big crisis may occur. Altman’s carefully reasoned text is an essential guide for the road ahead.
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
It is an interesting period piece - the last two years have been so dynamic with regard to economics, that many of the premises on which Altman bases his predictions have already shifted, some as he said they would, many not so. And then, where would economics be without the unforeseen effects of certain vectors?
This I could have forgiven, but I was frequently reduced to incredulity by Altman's blind spot - he is American, and in his writing, it is clear that he sees:
a) The economy of the USA continuing to dominate the world economic landscape into the forseeable future, and
b) The unassailable superiority of the USA over all comers. That the USA is essentially bankrupt, with over $16.5 Trillion in debt (Bloomberg.com) and a number of Cities and Town Councils having already declared bankruptcy does not appear to concern Altman.
c) The 'Grow Baby, Grow' paradigm of 20th Century capitalism continuing unabated. That we have hit Peak Credit and Peak Oil (refer to the IEA 2008 report) is again never considered - its just business as usual.
d) Environmental constraints to growth are no real issue either. He believes that we can simply engineer a way around them, when he does scarcely mention them at all. When your ecological services go offline, your economy, which is a subset of factors within your physical environment, will go offline too. This is never considered or discussed
I could go on, but won't.
What could Daniel Altman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Taken off his tie, kicked off his shoes, gone on holiday OUTSIDE of the USA and taken a more objective look at the world economy, outside of the (very narrow) paradigm through which he appears to see it.
How could the performance have been better?
The choice of narrator was strange, with a high whiney voice. I assumed it was the author, until I read more closely, and realized it was not. I would certainly have gone for an actor with a deeper voice.
What character would you cut from Outrageous Fortunes?
The author has some interesting thought points and I enjoyed some chapters of this more than others, but I think it could have been explained in far less time. It felt like a very, very long essay. Perhaps it was better on paper than listening.
There are a few interesting things here but in general it's an academic economists view of the future. It suffers from the "Economic Man" Syndrome - theory heavy but lacking perspective when it comes to real human behavior. A much better read is George Friedman's The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Altman hits on some interesting mega trends that provide plenty of food for thought for investors. His political views slip into the mix from time to time, which made the book seem less objective. For example, his near certain views about global warming and its likely effects will probably find favor with some, but not with others. Still, worth a listen.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful