- Capa comum: 564 páginas
- Editora: Penguin Books; Edição: Reprint (29 de dezembro de 2009)
- Idioma: Inglês
- ISBN-10: 0143116800
- ISBN-13: 978-0143116806
- Dimensões do produto: 13,7 x 3 x 21,3 cm
- Peso de envio: 499 g
- Avaliação média: 1 avaliação de cliente
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Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (Inglês) Capa Comum – 28 dez 2009
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Lords of Finance covers International finances with starting with some overview of pre 1900 Central bank dealings and goes up to the Bretton-Woods agrement that fixed the dollar to gold and other curriences to the dollar. Especially interesting is the German hyper-inflation after WW I which was partially, if not wholly, self-inflicted by Germany in an attempt to forestall onerous reparations payment. But during this same period Germany also borrowed money from the U.S. to build municipal swimming pools. It would seem that Germany inflicted sever damage on its own economy to avoid reparations payment. This failure to pay by Germany led, in 1923, to the French invasion and military takeover of the Ruhr valley: Germany's industrial heartland.
Lords of Finance also covers the tabloid side of finance. Joseph Caillaux, was a radical who had suggested an income tax be adopted in France. Le Figaro, a conservative newspaper, then published the love letters that Joseph Caillaux had written to a former mistress. Madame Caillaux, his wife, was upset and purchased a gun. She went to the offices of Le Figaro and waited two hours for the editor to come out. She said to him, "You know why I'm here", and shot him dead. She was put on trial, but an all-male jury found her not-guilty as it was a crime of passion. Monsieur Caillaux had his own problems and was convicted of financial irregularities. When he returned to the Ministry of Finance, "an American newsmagazine reported that it was as if Benedict Arnold, instead of being executed, had been barred from Philadelphia, exiled to the country, then pardoned, and appointed secretary or war. "
I had first started reading "Golden Fetters: the Gold Standard and the Great Depression" which covers roughly the same ground as Lords of Finance. But Golden Fetters is more technical and a bit over my head (I have no formal economics training) but very informative. It has incisive analyses of parliamentary vs. US style two party democracy, and looks at the political polarization that occurred in Germany and Japan over who should pay taxes (sound familiar?). This gridlock helped destroy those economies (think Tea Party blocking the repayment of national debt). That led to death squads and right wing takeovers. The military put people back to work: building armaments. In Germany they made lots of guns but butter and domestic needs were hard to come by. About a third of the way through I started reading "Lords of Finance".
Lords of Finance covers pretty much the same ground as Golden Fetters but in less technical terms and less depth. Golden Fetters gives detailed accounts of Gold reserves, balance of payments, foreign currency reserves etc. buttressed by pages of charts graphs and tables of same for every major country in Europe and North and South America. I just skipped the tables. Lords of Finance gives a clear picture of the economic forces at work and the theories behind them plus details about the people who controlled the world's economies.
Both books agree that the Gold Standard is a strait-jacket that is fine in normal times, but when things get dicey (WW I, WW II, Great Depression, recession of 2008) it proves fatal. That is why the world's economies were forced off the gold standard over and over again. When countries tried to return they paid a high price in fewer exports and rising unemployment. The Gold Standard constrains the money supply and hence economic growth. Bankers love it as it discourages inflation and encourages deflation. Think, do you want to pay back your mortgage in dollars worth more or less than the ones you borrowed. Inflation: good for debtors, bad for bankers; deflation good for bankers and savers, bad for debtors. Deflation: prices go down (good for savers), exports are hurt, and unemployment goes up. Winston Churchill called returning to the gold standard, "the biggest blunder in his life." He blamed it on the bad advice that he had received from the Governor of the bank of England (Norman) and by the experts of the Treasury who called the gold standard "knave-proof. It could not be rigged for political reasons." It would prevent Britain from "Living in a fool's paradise of false prosperity." Learning from this Churchill, during WW II, would trust his gut and let the military "experts" be dammed.
History repeats itself, Oh boy does it. In 1931 the US government could have stopped the first of a string of bank failures by injecting thirty-two million dollars into the Bank of the United States (no government affiliation). In 2008 thirty billion dollars in guarantees would have saved Lehman Bros. For want of a nail a shoe was lost...
Good books: The End of Wall Street (highly recommended) - a footnoted blow-by-blow of the crises of 2008; Thirteen Bankers (also highly recommended)- history of U.S. banking from roughly 1900 to 2009. Golden Fetters: the Gold Standard and the Great Depression 1919-1939 (rather technical): A monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman (very technical and way over my head); and of course, Lords of Finance (a must).