A blow-by-blow account of the 2008–2009 financial meltdown from the Main Street perspective.
Clark, the host of the “Kevin Clark Business Minute” radio show, explores how the 2008 crash underscores the divide between Washington and the average American. The Michigan-based financial advisor compiled his weekly radio commentaries during the financial collapse into a diary of sorts that captured the anxiety felt in America’s heartland while leaders struggled to get the economy back on track. After Lehman Brothers folded, several other financial institutions entered dire straits, shattering the dreams of regular people; Clark was “overwhelmed, frustrated and angry.” He exhorted his listeners to believe in American perseverance, although his writings reflect the gloom brought on by a plunging stock market and double-digit unemployment. A journal entry reveals how the financial-services veteran of 27 years found himself bewildered by the fallout: “I find the amount of wealth destroyed in the past six months as truly staggering.” Along with a timeline that follows every turn of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the book delves into possible long-term implications. Clark frets about inflation and the expansion of government amid news of corporate bailouts, Federal Reserve bond-buying and ballooning national debt. But the author is at his best when he puts a human face on the calamity. The story of a retired couple who lost their savings reminds us that recessions are more than declines in GDP. Clark sometimes criticizes the Obama administration, and he discloses that he served on Republican Pete Hoekstra’s unsuccessful campaign for governor. While the book doesn’t shy away from the intersection of politics and finance, it’s more about protecting average investors than pushing policy. Clark seeks to educate, and his homespun parables mitigate the jaded tone that sometimes creeps in. The result is a blend of pragmatism and optimism that speaks to a truth of investing: Opportunity is often found somewhere between fear and fact.
An everyman’s chronicle of the Great Recession, one that laments what was lost but leaves room for hope in American resiliency.