Meredith Whitney finds pockets of prosperity in new book, ‘Fate of the States’

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June 08, 2013

WWE color commentator and former World Champion John “Bradshaw” Layfield has a reputation for being a shrewd investor. Luckily for the “Wrestling God,” he doesn’t have to go far to find further advice on where to put his money. He can simply look to his wife.

In the new book “Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity,” Meredith Whitney, one of the prescient initial bank analysts to call the earliest stages of the U.S. financial crisis, outlines her vision for the future of the American economy. She also makes a fiscal case for why some states will be much better off than others in the coming years.

A frequent guest on business television shows, Whitney was driven to write the book out of a curiosity to see how the country would recover from the “Great Recession” that she was among the first to predict. She was looking for the “bright side.” What she found was a story of an almost bifurcated nation, where some states flourish and others flounder. If “Fate of the States” helps readers make informed “smart money” decisions, Whitney will consider the book a job well done.

“When people think about where they want to raise a family and where they think that the best economic opportunities are, they need to think about the sustainability of the states,” she explained.

According to Whitney, the Middle American “flyover states” are the ones best positioned to recover fastest from the recession.  Whereas other states’ coffers are running on empty — leading to weakened education systems and depleted police forces, among other societal problems — these central states are rich with opportunity. This trend is partly due to the states’ economies being less dependent on housing and having less exposure to the real estate boom.

“They are much less volatile economies,” she said. “They have half the unemployment rates of the coastal states, they’re creating jobs, businesses are moving there, home prices will rise faster there, and I think Americans over the long term will raise more money there.”

As for her husband, Whitney described JBL — who authored the book "Have More Money Now” — as a vociferous reader and a valuable sounding board during her writing process. The master of the Clothesline from Hell, meanwhile, praises “Fate of the States” for its accessibility, as well as for cutting through what he describes as the “political quagmire” that sometimes obscures states’ true financial conditions.

“To me, if you have any interest at all in the U.S. economy, you will want to read this book because it explains so much of what goes on in our country and why it goes on,” JBL said. “If you can understand this, then you understand the root problem. And then you can understand everything that goes on top of it.”

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