Lifestyle

The Unfair Trade

Review: Michael J. Casey, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, looks at how the middle class is being destroyed.

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(Photo: Natalie Castellino)

THE UNFAIR TRADE: How Our Broken Global Financial System Destroys the Middle Class
(Crown Business)
Michael J. Casey

With U.S. median wages stagnating and household income falling, one need not be an Occupy Wall Street protester to argue North America’s middle class is on the decline. This is deeply troubling to Michael J. Casey, although the Wall Street Journal managing editor and columnist does not rail against capitalism for ruining Main Street U.S.A. He claims the free-market system would distribute wealth more equitably if it were not so warped by wrong-headed government measures, from overregulation (China’s protectionist monetary policies) to no regulation (New York’s financial Wild West). These distort the market prices of debt and credit, producing financial bubbles that only enrich the wealthy. Casey warns that economic collapse and even revolution loom unless the international community agrees to bold reforms. He proposes a variety: impose a capital surcharge on too-big-to-fail banks as an incentive to break themselves up; oust the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency; hold millionaire hedge fund managers personally liable for their clients’ losses. Those who fear change only need look to Iceland, he says, which largely left its financial crisis behind by boldly forcing its banks to take losses and devaluing the krona.