“What will not surprise you is the wisdom, wit, and insight that Alex Pollock and Howard Adler bring to this indispensable guide to financial prophecy. The future may be a closed book, but you must open—and read—this one.”—James Grant, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer
“Surprised Again! will demystify finance for students and give experts a deeper understanding of things they thought they knew.”—Christopher DeMuth, Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute and former President, American Enterprise Institute
“A masterful survey of the financial sector and its post-COVID dependence on easy money from the Federal Reserve. This book is the first place to turn for a clear exposition of key financial topics—housing, municipal debt, pension funds, student loans, cryptocurrencies, and more. The reader will be surprised yet again at the extent of financial problems lurking below the surface.”—Thomas H. Stanton, Johns Hopkins University
About every ten years, we are surprised by a financial crisis. In 2020, we were Surprised Again! by the financial panic of the spring triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not one of the 30 official systemic risk studies developed in 2019 had even hinted at this financial crisis as a possibility, or at the frightening economic contraction which resulted from the political responses to control the virus. In response came the unprecedented government fiscal and monetary expansions and bailouts. Later 2020 brought a second big surprise: the appearance of an amazing boom in asset prices, including stocks, houses, and cryptocurrencies.
Alex Pollock and Howard Adler lived through this historic instability while serving as senior officials of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Their book lays out the many elements of the panic and its aftermath, from the massive elastic currency operations which rode to the rescue by financing the bust with unprecedented government debt, to the consequent asset price boom, which included a renewed bubble in house prices financed by government guarantees. It considers key leveraged sectors such as commercial real estate, student loans, pension funds, banks, and the government itself. It reflects on how to understand these events both in retrospect and prospect.