“The Phoenix Year” review by Janamitra Devan, PhD – Senior advisor to the Turkish Chair of the B20.

The Phoenix Year is an easy to read, fast paced, thriller, but it is more than that. What I found wonderful about it is that it explains in laymen’s terms what happened to the American and the global economies, during the past decade, building a story around this that grips the reader. I found it fascinating, as a practicing economist, how well Blond developed an interesting story around the following idea: that managerial capitalism, where hired managers protect shareholders’ value often at the expense of workers and definitely at the expense of long term corporate performance, fails as an engine of growth once economies fall into recession. Instead, each company acts strategically and this is usually at the expense of a full-scale recovery.

In the story a group of wealthy, seemingly altruistic men, decide to change the system as we know it. To do this then they need to work the ultimate in derivatives – driving down stock market values in a 1930’s style downdraft – and pushing up the price of gold to new heights as share prices fall to new lows. Their goal is to take control of some of the world’s most important private companies in order to change managements and shift priorities. To do this they nearly destroy the global economy. It is left to their heirs to find a way to take this accumulation of corporate assets and restart the economy. But that is left to another book in the series.

Many of the forecasts about the world in 2015 and 2016 are starting to come true. We have already seen petroleum prices start to fall, perhaps not to the $30 a barrel projected in the story, but it is a possibility. He predicts China’s economy slows rapidly driving down prices and demand for raw materials. He has identified Russia’s problems with lower prices for raw materials, it’s over dependence on exports of minerals to support a consumer economy, which forces it to sell the gold secretly to support the house of cards it has built. We may not reach tumble to the 13000 DOW level by 2016 that the book begins with, but some pessimists believe the current nearly 18,000 DOW average is overpriced—a tumble is not impossible.

I would love for the academic community and students of economics to read this book. The Phoenix Year could be a good primer on how the world economy works and the linkages between events in one country and the effect on economies of all others. For the layman, it’s a great story. It engages the reader in ways other thrillers cannot.

So who says that economics, the dismal science, can’t be made more interesting and engaging to the layman and the professional alike. I thoroughly enjoyed it on many levels. What comes next?”

Janamitra Devan, PhD: Formerly Director of McKinsey’s Global Strategy Practice and Senior Fellow of the McKinsey Global Institute. Formerly a Vice President of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. Currently, senior advisor to the Turkish Chair of the B20.

The Phoenix Year is available now.