Frank, Stefan

Stefan Frank is one of the cleverest members of the radical leftist magazine “konkret". But his book reads like a series of articles from an ordo-liberal economical newspaper. Frank´s laconic humour has to add only little to the facts of the economical crisis in order to exhilarate the reader. The first chapter of his analysis describes the cycle of boom and bust on the basis of historical real estate crises. Then Frank draws a chronicle of the current events: from the first reports of accumulation of losses on U.S. mortgages to the refusal of the German finance minister in August 2008 to acknowledge the severity of the problem.
Frank explains the financial instruments which made possible the boom of the last decades and triggered the downturn, from futures on currencies, stocks, bonds or even interest rates, junk bonds, REITs, Asset Backed Securities, Credit Default Swaps to synthetic bonds.
Frank describes why these instruments were developed and how they work – not without any admiration for the creativity of the financial engineers. The relation of information and reading effort is very favourable to the reader.
Frank´s explanation of the credit-driven boom and bust of financial markets follows the crisis theory of Hyman Minsky … “A recession eliminates the errors of the boom”. This sentence shall reveal the nonsense of bailouts and economic stimulus packages. Sometimes states take more debt than they can bear. Consequently, Frank asks for the mobilization of private donators: “Benefit concerts with Herbert Grönemeyer, BAP and Peter Maffay should be organized.” Of course, such sarcasm is not the expected “leftist” contribution to the debate about the future of capitalism. But why should it? Today, the conservative social revolutionaries in the governments and their experts line up against capitalism anyway."

Translated review, FAZ, 25.06.2009