Part economic primer, part fiscal and historical analysis, New Yorker and London Review of Books contributor John Lanchester offers his brilliantly witty, succinct overview of the current financial crisis.
For most people, the reasons for the sudden collapse of our economy remain obscure. I.O.U. is the story of how we came to experience such a complete and devastating financial implosion, and how the decisions and actions of a select group of individuals had profound consequences for America, Europe, and the global economy overall. John Lanchester begins with "The ATM Moment," that seemingly magical proliferation of cheap credit that led to an explosion of lending, and then deftly outlines the global and local landscapes of banking and finance. Viewing the crisis through the lens of politics, culture, and contemporary history -- from the invention and widespread misuse of financial instruments to the culpability of subprime mortgages -- Lanchester draws perceptive conclusions on the limitations of financial and governmental regulation, capitalism's deepest flaw, and, most important, on the plain and simple facts of human nature where cash is concerned.
Weaving together firsthand research and superbly written reportage, Lanchester delivers a shrewd perspective and a digestible, comprehensive analysis that connects the dots for the expert and casual reader alike. I.O.U. is an eye-opener of a book -- it may well provoke anger, amazement, or rueful disbelief -- and, as the author clearly reveals, we've only just begun to get ourselves back on track.
About the Author John Lanchester is the author of the novels The Debt to Pleasure, Mr. Phillips, and Fragrant Harbor; and a memoir, Family Romance. He is a contributing editor at the London Review of Books and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Observer, and The Daily Telegraph, among others. Among several other prizes, including the Whitbread and Hawthornden Awards, Lanchester was awarded the 2008 E.M. Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in London.