“I dedicate this book to every hardworking American who wakes up in the morning asking themselves what went wrong.”

Danielle DiMartino Booth worked on Wall Street and as a financial columnist at the Dallas Morning News, then worked her way up at the Federal Reserve District Bank in Dallas, eventually advising Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher. Now she’s President of her own economic consultancy and media commentator on all things financial. She is indeed an insider, well-positioned to tell us what’s gone so very wrong in America’s financial system.

And boy, does she tell it. This is no dry recitation of high finance minutiae. It’s a fast-paced look at the events surrounding the 2008 economic meltdown, before and after, along with a character study of each of the big players, both government and corporate. Danielle DiMartino Booth pulls no punches here, God bless her.

When I first received this book (a requested Father’s Day present this year, which made my wife remark how weird I am), I promised my old friend Professor Howie Baetjer (Lecturer at the Department of Economics at Towson University, and author of Free Our Markets: A Citizen’s Guide to Essential Economics – another must-read book) that I’d share my thoughts about it with him. Here’s what I posted as a first-blush opinion for him on LinkedIn:

Howard Baetjer, you asked me to tell you what I thought of Danielle DiMartino Booth‘s book, Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America. I just finished it and it’s marvelous (and infuriating). She doesn’t favor abolishing the Fed as you do – but you’ll find a treasure trove of ammunition for your point of view in her pages.

That ammunition is the very clear evidence Booth presents showing the staggering incompetence (and at times what I’ll call cozy corruption) driving the decisions made by the Federal Open Market Committee. She has nothing good to say about the latest few Chairmen of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan (about whom I wrote caustically some years ago here), Ben Bernanke, and current incumbent Janet Yellen (who comes off perhaps worst of all in these pages). From Greenspan’s clueless inflation of the housing bubble, to Bernanke’s slavish devotion to Greenspan’s easy money policy and his own unilateral expansion of the Fed’s mandate, to Yellen’s academic obliviousness to the real world, this trio of “leaders” richly deserve all the brickbats they receive in this book. So do most of the other committee members who enabled the years of horrible decision-making, along with the multitudes of analysts supporting them, whose PhDs seemingly blind them to the fact that their “mathy” econometric models are pretty much never right, and oftentimes disastrously wrong.

Booth does a great job educating the reader about the multitude of different organizations, regulations, relations and corporations that drive America’s financial policies. That she does this without boring the reader to tears alone makes this book a gem.

But as I said in my initial thoughts, the book is indeed infuriating. Nobody normal pays any attention to the Fed, which is a shame because the ordinary people to whom Booth dedicated her book have been, and continue to be, robbed blind by the very institution that’s supposed to protect them. Booth shows exactly how, and continues to be a vocal advocate for reforms to get the Fed back to serving the country rather than impoverishing it, and serving the common man rather than the untouchable bureaucrats and fabulously wealthy game-riggers.

Richard Fisher is one of the few who tried to get the Fed back on track during the times Booth covers, and is one of the very few heroes in this otherwise bleak book. He retired two years ago, so the reforms Danielle DiMartino Booth spells out in her closing chapter are all the more critical. Or perhaps my friend Howie Baetjer and his latter-day abolitionists should win out…