In late 2008, just before TARP weaseled its way through Congress at the behest of Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson (a knee-jerk reaction to the $550 billion money market bank run of September 18, 2008 perhaps?), I made a quick trip to the bookstore near my SF Fisherman's Wharf office for some new light reading. Ben Bernanke's Fed just would not do. I ended up with two titles; Michael Panzner's Financial Armageddon and Jim Marrs' The Rise of the Fourth Reich: The Secret Societies that Threaten to Take Over America. Truth be told, I've read Panzner's FA at least four times - Marrs' epic piece about hostile takeover beginning with war remains to this day unfinished.
Ironically, just after the release of Panzner's latest title, When Giants Fall, I received an unsolicited e-mail from a marketing assistant at the publisher of my company's CPA review homework books (same company which had just published Panzner's latest) asking if I'd care to receive a complimentary copy of said book in hopes that I would recommend to my colleagues, connections and friends. Perhaps what John Wiley and Sons did not realize at the time was that I'd already suggested Panzner's previous title to nearly everyone I came in contact with. I felt it somehow my duty to share what I'd read with others, lest I keep the wealth of information to be found in his words to myself. What Wiley also did not realize, obviously, was that I'd been planning to order Panzner's latest title from Amazon just before they wrote asking if I wanted a comp copy. (This is called "transparency" - revealing my position while giving my opinion. I highly recommend Tim Geithner, the Federal Reserve, and various commercial banking interests *coughJPMorgancough* take a cue)
I have told him as much directly but Panzner's view of the world we face touched me in a profound way. Forever changed after diving into Financial Armageddon, I felt compelled to share his vision with the world in the only way I knew how - via my words. This wasn't some crackpot bemoaning the end of the world - this man was a veteran of the very arena he now criticized, every step of the way defining new realities for the brave new world we'd carved out by our own irresponsibility. Panzner certainly cannot take all the credit for the blog you read today but it is certainly because of his inspiration (and that of others, they know who they are) that I wake up three hours before work and blow off my lunch hour every day just to write what you see here on Jr Deputy Accountant.
When Giants Fall, once it arrived at my office via Next Day Air, proved to be just as intense and frightening as Panzner's first title. I expected no less from my hero and knew that I'd certainly be captivated by each chapter. I even went so far as to Xerox the bit written specifically for business, leaving it stapled on my office manager's desk with a post-it that said simply "pls read" - lest anything happen to our business that I couldn't prevent with the insight Panzner offered in this latest doom-and-gloom filled testament of the collapsing empire we all call home.
Panzner's latest is a geopolitically-focused break from his previous title certainly, and as a person who has read and appreciated both (and found great inspiration from his efforts), I found When Giants Fall to serve as more of a roadmap for dealing with pending crises than his previous work. Don't get me wrong, Financial Armageddon was a thrill ride, but its sentiment was more how and why we got here, not as much how we are supposed to get out. Both have their virtues as blueprints for surviving economic meltdown, but When Giants Fall certainly has the advantage of being a piece crafted post-collapse as opposed to Financial Armageddon serving as the Miss Cleo of Financial Disaster.
Despite the overwhelming feeling that we are absolutely fucked no matter what we do at this point that permeates both books, Panzner offers a message hidden between the lines that encourages the courageous among us to rise up and take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity that awaits us in the eye of the financial storm.
If Wiley's plan was to get me to promote the title to my network it has certainly succeeded - though as a fan of Panzner's to begin with, I'd have done that either way. Lucky for me I managed to do it by way of relationship with his publisher instead of via my credit card.
If you have not read either, or at least visited either of Panzner's projects at Financial Armageddon or When Giants Fall, may I recommend you do so?
No one said it would be pretty. But better you be prepared than caught off guard when the shit truly hits the fan. And don't say we didn't try to warn you.