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Empire of Debt

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Empire of Debt

The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Record-breaking U.S. debt will damage everything from the country`s political relationships to individual bank accounts.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Just when you thought you had heard the dangers of the staggering U.S. national debt described from every possible perspective, authors Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin present it as history. Their fervent approach puts this problem and the American empire into a global and historical context. From the ancient Greeks to President Woodrow Wilson’s misguided adventures in Mexico and Europe, to the prolonged Japanese deflation crisis, the account reads like a historical novel instead of a history. The authors’ writing is refreshing and witty - which is important, since politicians, citizens and the media tend to fall asleep as soon as anyone mentions either imperialism or the national debt, which the authors see as a financial house of cards. Readers may (in fact, probably will) disagree with some of their more politicized projections and opinions, but their contrarian perspective is an intriguing light to shine on such an ambitious, controversial topic. getAbstract recommends this book to history buffs, investment managers and journalists.


Imperial Designs

During the early twentieth century, the United States economy emerged as the world’s largest and fastest growing. Under President Theodore Roosevelt, the country flirted with territorial expansion. By 1917, President Woodrow Wilson was preparing to enter World War I to "make the world safe for democracy." He set the U.S. on an expansionist course, in which its army moved around the world with the goal of bringing democracy to countries that had never experienced representative government. President Harry Truman invaded Korea without a declaration of war from Congress, and President Lyndon Johnson entered Vietnam without a clear public mandate.

Having embarked on this imperialistic path, the country needed to finance its army. On August 15, 1971, the U.S. abolished the gold standard and entered the world of unbridled debt. Since the country could no longer exact tribute from conquered nations, it began to borrow from them.

"Deficits Don’t Matter" Long as We Have the Chinese

As long as the balance of trade tilted in favor of the U.S., the strategy of borrowing worked. Then the scales tipped. The country is currently burdened with ...

About the Authors

Bill Bonner is financial newsletter publisher. He founded the newsletter the Daily Reckoning, where Addison Wiggin is editorial director and publisher. Bonner co-authored Financial Reckoning Day. Wiggin wrote The Demise of the Dollar...and Why It’s Great for Your Investments.

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    A. 1 decade ago
    I didn't learn so much in all history and economics classes I have taken throughout my school career as I did with that book. Reading the full book is really worth the time and money, the style is just great; always ironic, never boring. If you are a fan of Thomas L. Friedman, you'd better not read the book, they are making fun of him...