Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

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Penguin, 2009 - Business & Economics - 564 pages
39 Reviews
Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize

With penetrating insights for today, this vital history of the world economic collapse of the late 1920s offers unforgettable portraits of the four men whose personal and professional actions as heads of their respective central banks changed the course of the twentieth century


It is commonly believed that the Great Depression that began in 1929 resulted from a confluence of events beyond any one person?s or government?s control. In fact, as Liaquat Ahamed reveals, it was the decisions taken by a small number of central bankers that were the primary cause of the economic meltdown, the effects of which set the stage for World War II and reverberated for decades.

In Lords of Finance, we meet the neurotic and enigmatic Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, the xenophobic and suspicious Émile Moreau of the Banque de France, the arrogant yet brilliant Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbank, and Benjamin Strong of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose façade of energy and drive masked a deeply wounded and overburdened man. After the First World War, these central bankers attempted to reconstruct the world of international finance. Despite their differences, they were united by a common fear?that the greatest threat to capitalism was inflation? and by a common vision that the solution was to turn back the clock and return the world to the gold standard.

For a brief period in the mid-1920s they appeared to have succeeded. The world?s currencies were stabilized and capital began flowing freely across the globe. But beneath the veneer of boom-town prosperity, cracks started to appear in the financial system. The gold standard that all had believed would provide an umbrella of stability proved to be a straitjacket, and the world economy began that terrible downward spiral known as the Great Depression.

As yet another period of economic turmoil makes headlines today, the Great Depression and the year 1929 remain the benchmark for true financial mayhem. Offering a new understanding of the global nature of financial crises, Lords of Finance is a potent reminder of the enormous impact that the decisions of central bankers can have, of their fallibility, and of the terrible human consequences that can result when they are wrong.

  

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Review: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

User Review  - Erez Davidi - Goodreads

Lords of Finance is a financial history of the western world from after War World I through the roaring twenties and, later on, the Great Depression. It does so in a unique way by following the lives ... Read full review

Review: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

User Review  - James - Goodreads

The dangers of the gold standard have never been so interesting. Even if you do not share the writers love for central banking it is hard not to be gripped by the slice of social history, the ... Read full review

All 9 reviews »

Contents

INTRODUCTION I
1
FIGURES
9
Prologue
19
The Young Wizard
35
A Safe Pair of Hands
45
Money Generals
73
Demented Inspirations
99
Uncle Shylock
130
PART FOUR
305
192236
309
Purging the Rottenness
347
Magneto Trouble
374
192832
377
192236
390
A Loose Cannon on the Deck
393
Gold Fetters
422

A Barbarous Relic
155
191324
158
191323
162
A Bridge Between Chaos and Hope
179
The Dawes Opening
193
191033
220
190026
272
Gold Standard on the Booze
453
The Caravans Move on
477
192536
479
acknowledgments
506
BIBLIOGRAPHY
533
INDEX
545
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Liaquat Ahamed has been a professional investment manager for 25 years. He has worked at the World Bank in Washington D.C. and the New York based partnership of Fischer Francis Trees and Watts, where he served as Chief Executive. He is currently an adviser to several hedge fund groups, including the Rock Creek Group and the Rohatyn Group, is a director of Aspen Insurance Co. and is on the board of Trustees of the Brookings Institution. He has degrees in economics from Harvard and Cambridge Universities.

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