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Leverage: How Cheap Money Will Destroy the World


Praise for Leverage

"Karl Denninger is a brilliant economist and someone whose opinions I respect and highly value.Leverage is a remarkable work that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to truly grasp the principles that drive our current economy and the breakdowns that occur when the fundamental mathematical laws governing economies are ignored or obfuscated. Karl has taken a complex macroeconomic system and masterfully pared it down to its essence. Leverage presents this information in an elegantly simple manner that the average high school student would understand, and provides a realistic plan for eliminating the mechanisms that have caused the 'boom and bust' cycles and over-leveraging that have plagued our economy for decades."—Adrian Wyllie, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida and syndicated talk radio host

"Karl is something of a rarity in our politics—a Tea Party conservative who believes in strong and effective regulation as a mechanism towards reducing excessive leverage in our economy. He spares no one in this discussion of a financial services industry that colluded with the government to rip off Americans by convincing them that home prices could never decline and that home equity was an ATM. Undergirding all of this was leverage, a useful tool that can become a poison if ingested wrongly or in unwise amounts. Leverage infects our medical system, educational system, and government. I don't agree with everything Karl says. I am after all a liberal, and he is not. But he provides a clear explanation of what is wrong with our economic and political order, and how to fix it."—Matt Stoller, American political activist and writer

"Karl Denninger of The Market Ticker® has been a prophetic voice crying in the wilderness, repeatedly warning the world of the dangers of excessive debt. In Leverage, he provides a cogent analysis of the current economic crisis as well as a set of drastic policy prescriptions that may be the U.S. economy's only chance for eventual recovery."—Vox Day, author of The Return of the Great Depression

"In 2007, our once lucrative business was collapsing. The harder we worked, the more difficult it became to afford even a modest standard of living. Out of a desperate need for answers, I started researching and that research led me to Karl Denninger's Market Ticker. As a quintessential Jane Six Pack, I knew only the basics of economics and the financial sense my accountant father had instilled in me. What I have learned from Karl over the past four years has changed my family's life, and I credit Karl for saving us from the financial ruin that has devastated many of our friends and extended family. Thankfully, Karl has simplified and condensed all this knowledge and information into one, easy-to-read book; so it won't take you as long as it took me to understand the scope of what we face and how to protect yourself and the people you love. Leverage is both frightening in its reality and hopeful in that it gives us the tools to change our future. Leverage should be in every classroom in America."—Stephanie Jasky, founder,

Karl Denninger founded The Market Ticker® (, a blog dedicated to uncovering market mischievousness. He is also a columnist on and has appeared on MSNBC with Dylan Ratigan, on CNBC, and is a frequent guest on WBAL talk radio in Baltimore. He produces a weekly Internet radio segment on BlogTalkRadio with real-time call-ins from listeners and occasional invited guests. Karl is also one of the original founders of the Tea Party movement, and, along with FedUpUSA, launched the first financial protests related to the bailout of banking institutions after the failure and forced takeover of Bear Stearns. Previously, he was CEO of Macro Computer Solutions, and is a self-made entrepreneur and millionaire.

Foreword xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

Part One Leverage and Its Abuses in the Economy 1

Chapter 1 An Economic Future for America 3

Chapter 2 Principles of Financial Leverage 11

Chapter 3 The Aughts or the Aught-Not-Haves 37

Chapter 4 The Failure of Kicking the Can 95

Part Two A Way Forward 119

Chapter 5 The Folly of Avoidance 121

Chapter 6 Reinstating the Rule of Law 127

Chapter 7 Reforming the Fed, Lending, and Derivatives 137

Chapter 8 Fixing Social Security, Pensions, and Health Care 151

Chapter 9 Structural Fixes for Trade, Taxation, and Federalism 161

Chapter 10 Devising a Sound Energy Policy 173

Conclusion 183

Notes 187

About the Author 193

Index 195