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Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World | [Liaquat Ahamed]

Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

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.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, History, 2010

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 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 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 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.

©2009 Liaquat Ahamed; (P)2009 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Ahamed cannot have foreseen how timely his book would be.....Lords of Finance is highly readable - enlivened by vivid biographical detail but soundly based on the literature. That it should appear now, as history threatens to repeat itself, compounds its appeal." (Financial Times)
"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    sho2014 05-10-09
    sho2014 05-10-09 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "history textbook and biography rolled into 1"

    This book is basically a history textbook, a few chapters of a macroeconomics textbook, and 4 biographies rolled into 1.

    It spends more time talking about politics and the outward appearances of the characters rather than getting to the punchline. It's very long and long winded.

    The book covers 1914 to 1944. It goes through and attempts to link together the policies, events, and mistakes throughout the time frame. It covers WW2, Gold Standard, etc.

    21 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Park City, UT, United States 01-25-13
    Steve Park City, UT, United States 01-25-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I just want to understand the great depression"
    What disappointed you about Lords of Finance?

    For sometime I have wanted to understand what brought about the great depression, so I thought this book might explain it to me. I'm neither an economist nor a historian, but I am interested in the topic. I found the book less than helpful in this regard. The author spends a lot of time touching on what must seem to him as entertaining trivia, but I found it frustrating. The author seems to assume familiarity with both economics and history to be able to provide the context. I had to laugh at the end of the book when the author tells the reader that the purpose of the book was to summarize the influence of the four main characters - I had no clue who the four main characters were, and when he finally named them, I wasn't sure who one of them was.
    All in all I wish I had not wasted the time or money on the book.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodrigo CHAPEL HILL, NC, United States 11-07-12
    Rodrigo CHAPEL HILL, NC, United States 11-07-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Boring is the word"
    What would have made Lords of Finance better?

    Perhaps I did not give it much of a chance but this audiobook pretty much put me to sleep. It goes through the very personal background of the characters. Too much detail I believe. I was expecting the author to start discussing the character's favorite color.

    I am sure it is a good book and others will surely enjoy it. Maybe I should have bought the abridged version.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard D. Martel Newark, DE United States 02-21-12
    Richard D. Martel Newark, DE United States 02-21-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Early 20th Century Money-Men/Power Brokers"

    Good Historical Review of Key Money-Men/Bankers who impacted major political events in Europe, the US, and other regions of the world in the early 20th century.
    Too many personal details on lifestyles of wealthy families/individuals presented throughout the book that did not seem to be significant to the storyline. Most of book however was relevent to the main topic of financiers who mismanaged world financial resources.. Average read on wealthy power brokers and how they influence world events.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Treherne Sandton, South Africa 09-05-11
    Treherne Sandton, South Africa 09-05-11
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    "Very insightful"

    The subject has been very well researched by the author and the book goes into detail about all the points that are brought up. I really enjoyed the detail on the subject, but the detail may be a bit much for people who are not interested in monetary economics and banking.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Siet San Clemente, CA, United States 09-17-11
    Siet San Clemente, CA, United States 09-17-11

    I'm a Joyful Vegan/Artist-Photographer who has become passionately addicted to Audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring"

    Don't buy this book. It reads like a list of events, a history outline.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
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