Finance and Philosophy: Why We’re Always Surprised

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Paul Dry Books, Aug 20, 2019 - Business & Economics - 183 pages

Taking the 2008 financial crisis as his jumping off point, Alex Pollock deftly illustrates how private firms and governments alike have failed to understand the shifting risks that financial systems create. With candor, clarity, and wit, he uncovers the persistent uncertainties inherent in banking, central banking, and economics.


“At the height of the 2008 financial panic, Queen Elizabeth plaintively asked why nobody saw it coming. In the winning pages of Finance and Philosophy, Her Majesty can find the answer. With a lightness of touch that belies the complexity of his subject, Alex Pollock shows why the financial future is now, why it has been and always must be a closed book. A successful banker and gifted writer, Pollock tells us all we need to know about money and banking, risk and uncertainty, debt and temptation, and science and economics. He delights as he instructs.”—James Grant, founder and editor, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer


“Why can’t human beings take the lessons of boom and bust, bubbles and crashes that are clearly described in history books—and learn from experience? That’s where Mr. Pollock’s wry humor and philosophic bent help understand the hubris that makes every generation believe that not only can it predict the markets, but control them . . . [Finance and Philosophy] should be required reading in economics classes, or before opening an investment account—and by every member of Congress.”—The Washington Times


Alex J. Pollock is a distinguished senior fellow at the R Street Institute in Washington, DC. He was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 2004 to 2015, and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago from 1991 to 2004.

 

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Contents

Prologue
Fundamental Uncertainty
Inevitable Mistakes
Bubbles and Liquidity
Temptation
Economics Is Not a Science
Usually a Banking Crisis Somewhere
Governments Dilemma
Faith vs Skepticism
National Governments and Debt
Municipal Governments and Debt
Finance and the Life Cycle
Wonderful Trend and Troublesome Cycle
The Cincinnatian Doctrine
Philosophers vs PhilosopherKings
Virtue and Finance

Remember the 1980s
The Most Dangerous Financial Institution in the World
Silver Gold and Money
Compendium of Aphorisms
Bibliography
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Alex J. Pollock is a distinguished senior fellow at the R Street Institute in Washington, DC. He was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 2004 to 2015, and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago from 1991 to 2004.

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