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 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 emile 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 facade 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 boomtown 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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by Stephen King
by Stephen Tobolowsky
by Nouriel Roubini, Stephen Mihm
by Gillian Tett
by Edmund Phelps
by Jacques Cousteau, Susan Schiefelbein
by Mark Billingham
by Tom McCarthy
by Thomas H. Cook
by Colin Bateman
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by Lawrence Osborne
"Even those who aren't generally interested in economics will enjoy this historical look at wealth and power in the early twentieth century. Four magnates, each with the power of his country's federal reserve, controlled the world's finances. Their dealings in regulating the cost of currency among their respective countries became influential in causing the Great Depression. Stephen Hoye hones in on the author's brutal use of satire in attacking the four lords' ascendancy. Since the story deals with England, France, Germany, and the United States, Hoye's multilingual talents add depth to the characters and their milieus, adding an extra reason to enjoy his performance. Brimming with subtle humor and abundant detail, this audiobook is smartly enhanced by the narrator's skill and will be enjoyed by connoisseurs of both history and economics. J.A.H. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine"
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