Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Erudite, entertaining macroeconomic history of the lead-up to the Great Depression as seen through the careers of the West’s principal bankers . . . Spellbinding, insightful and, perhaps most important, timely.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“There is terrific prescience to be found in [Lords of Finance’s] portrait of times past . . . [A] writer of great verve and erudition, [Ahamed] easily connects the dots between the economic crises that rocked the world during the years his book covers and the fiscal emergencies that beset us today." —The New York Times
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 made by a small number of central bankers that were the primary cause of that economic meltdown, the effects of which set the stage for World War II and reverberated for decades. As we continue to grapple with economic turmoil, Lords of Finance is a potent reminder of the enormous impact that the decisions of central bankers can have, their fallibility, and the terrible human consequences that can result when they are wrong.
If you think today's economy is scary, check out the Jazz Age horrors chronicled in this financial history of the interwar years and the central bankers who blighted them. Ahamed, an investment manager, surveys the economic upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s, when crushing war debts and reparations from WWI sparked hyperinflation in Germany and a host of lesser eruptions, all of it climaxing in the American stock market crash and the Great Depression. He tells the story through the central bank chiefs of Britain, France, Germany and the United States as they confront unprecedented crises while "shackled" by the "dead hand" of the gold standard, the era's reigning financial orthodoxy (economist John Maynard Keynes, foe of gold and apostle of economic activism, is the book's hero). The author injects unnecessary commentary about the bankers' neuroses and marital difficulties into his coverage of interest rate and currency fluctuations (New York Federal Reserve head Benjamin Strong, he notes, possessed a "large nose that spoke of ruthlessness"). Fortunately, his protagonists' high-wire efforts to stave off national bankruptcies furnish Ahamed with plenty of drama to highlight his engrossing analysis of the complexities of monetary policy. Photos.
Lords of finance
Engrossing treatment, with colorful detail, making for easy reading.
A history of financial crisis
Not bad. You should buy it if you are interest in the history of financial crisis.