This book is extremely informative and a snarky assessment of the Washington establishment which is quite entertaining. As a libertarian, Stockman is not always a Trump supporter but he despises Washington and thinks Trump is what it deserves. While this book is mainly economic it makes a lot of political points which are quite insightful once you think about them.
The first is that we basically have a planned economy run by the unelected governors of the Federal Reserve which he describes as a “Monetary Politburo.” They control money printing, debt creation, interest rates, and mandate continuing inflation with their inflation target of two percent. This constant inflation policy hinders deflationary price adjustments and keeps most prices rising. By constantly raising nominal wages, this policy also conceals the flat or declining real income of most Americans. But voters are increasingly catching on which is why they elected the outsider Trump in 2016.
Another insight is that we have basically have had an unofficial permanent governing coalition in Washington since about 1983 of defense hawks, welfare liberals, and pork barrel politicians. This is why nothing ever changes in Washington. This coalition cannot tolerate the slightest suggestion of any real change. This is why it has launched the current witch hunt against Trump based on groundless hysteria about Russia.
He blames Greenspan’s “Bubble Finance” policy of endless money creation, still followed by the Federal Reserve, for our $20 trillion national debt, $64 trillion total debt (government, business, personal) and declining standards of living as well as real average incomes. He calls the current recovery a “Potemkin Village” which has been propped up by massive debt. He illustrates how without this debt the economy has actually shrunk. He says we have reached “Peak Debt” where consumers cannot borrow any more, so more debt to keep spending going must come from the government.
He goes into foreign policy and believes the old military-industrial complex, now run by neoconservatives and recently by liberals like Hillary Clinton, is maintaining a permanent “Warfare State.” His arguments for a more accommodating policy towards Iran are quite convincing.