In the third edition of his award-winning System under Stress, Donald Kettl looks at the latest stress to hit the system—the financial crisis of 2008. In his brief, gripping narrative, Kettl assesses how well the U.S. political system responds under extraordinary pressure and explores whether the government can effectively handle the next challenge. A well-known scholar, commentator, and writer in the areas of federalism and governance, Kettl asks the hard questions, and while making a credible and persuasive argument, crafts a case study that works in classrooms up and down the political science and public administration curriculum.
In earlier editions, Kettl looked at the massive reorganization under the Department of Homeland Security, a response to the system-wide coordination problems brought to light on 9/11. Better planning, new leadership, and far-reaching reform were to demonstrate that the government would be prepared for the next disaster. Sadly, the catastrophic response to Hurricane Katrina showed how this restructuring did not bring about the long-term policy changes necessary for dealing with threats of this size. In this new edition, Kettl assesses the havoc created by "too big to fail" banks, and even ordinary home buyers, borrowing well beyond their means. Regulators were no match for the banks' speculative betting and highly complicated financial investments. Is the government now better prepared to combat fiscal malfeasance? Can our regulatory structure effectively predict and manage future financial crises?