Winner of the Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism
One of Business Week’s “Ten Best Business Books of the Year”
When it was published in 1994, A Piece of the Action was wildly acclaimed by Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, authors Michael Lewis and Brian Burroughs; it won the Helen Bernstein Prize and was a national bestseller. Joseph Nocera describes the historical process by which millions of middle class Americans went from being savers—people who kept their money in the bank, and spent it frugally—to being unrepentant borrowers and investors.
A Piece of the Action is an important piece of financial and social history, and with a new introduction, Nocera’s 2013 critique of the uses of the revolution is a powerful warning and admonition to understand what is at stake before we act, to look before we jump.
In an entertaining and edifying history of personal finance, GQ columnist Nocera charts the transformation of the habits of middle-class Americans. The raging inflation of the late 1970s and early '80s, he argues, led many people to abandon thrift and their aversion to risk, attitudes acquired during the Depression. Faced with double-digit inflation, wildly gyrating interest rates and a sinking standard of living, consumers displayed a great willingness to take on debt. The emergence of two-income couples, adjustable-rate mortgages, credit cards and the middle class's growing participation in stocks, mutual funds and money-market accounts define what the author terms the ``money revolution'' of the past two decades. Nocera, who believes credit overall has been a force for good in American life, fleshes out this colorful chronicle with profiles of finance wizards Charles Merrill of Merrill Lynch; Dee Hock, creator of Visa; and investment broker Charles Schwab. Author tour.