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Publisher's Summary

To those who don't speak it, the language of money can seem impenetrable and its ideas too complex to grasp. How to Speak Money is acclaimed writer John Lanchester's entertaining and informative attempt to bridge the gap between the money people and the rest of us. With characteristic wit and candor ("wickedly funny" - Dwight Garner, New York Times), Lanchester shows how the world of finance and economics really works - from the terms and conditions of your personal checking account to the evasions of bankers appearing in front of Congress.

How to Speak Money reveals how the language of money is often a tool to conceal and mislead; he explains hundreds of common economic terms, from GDP to the IMF, amortization to securitization to collateralized debt obligation; and he argues that we all need to speak money lest those who do write the financial rules for themselves.

©2014 John Lanchester (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

"How finance really works - by the writer hailed for “explain[ing] complex stuff in a down-to-earth and witty style" ( Economist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Broker! I hardly hedged her.

If you could sum up How to Speak Money in three words, what would they be?

A penny saved.

What did you like best about this story?

It was written for those NOT in the know. It is educational in nature. It is also entertaining.

Which scene was your favorite?

This is not a novel. It does not lend itself to scenes.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not when it gets to the alphabetical part. Listen to 3 to 5 terms then stop and think.

Any additional comments?

The conservative, landed, and money people oft complain that the author is not part of the club. “Nothing new here! Move along! Switch it off!” Fair enough the author admits that he is a journalist that stands outside the world of money looking in and reports on same. From this experience of years of looking through the looking glass comes the authors’ expertise on the subject of the nomenclature of the market. Since nomenclature is oft used to bedazzle and bamboozle the uninitiated it is essential that one educate oneself. If the author injects a little bit of his own beliefs about fair play and judgment on the practices depicted then so be it; he does not pretend to be what he is not: your friendly broker with your best interests at his heart. I do not believe this book was written for insiders.

The books’ chief goal is to lift the shroud of mystery off the nomenclature of financial terms and to expose the pure light of simple meaning to obtuse terms designed to deceive. As such, it is primarily a reference book, pure and simple. As a reference book one should get a hard copy of it for your shelf. Unless you are blessed with an identic memory, you will not be able to remember the terms and the definition of terms provided alphabetically in this book.

If you are Joe or Sue Citizen going into a stock broker to discuss investments for the first time this book would be essential to have in you arsenal of understanding less you become a bedazzled victim of the unscrupulous or simply overwhelmed by a broker who does not speak the same language as you understand. When speaking money nomenclature the meanings of the words in a financial context may be the reverse of what there plain sound suggests. So in practical terms a word that sounds like “up” may in fact be “down” when speaking about the market. Just as you have to ask you physician to break medical information down into plain English so too you may have to ask your broker to do the same with financial terms. What is important to remember is there may not be any fiduciary responsibility for the broker to disclose any interest he or the firm may have in positions opposed to the one you are being urged to take. If you don’t know what to ask you could make a serious financial blunder and all because you did not know what to enquire about or were bedazzled by a slick double meaning financial term.

I recommend that you get both the audio book and the hard back book. The audio book is a good way to listen to the stories and anecdotes of how various financial terms developed over time. This can be entertaining as well as educational. However, when considering a specific bit of nomenclature that’s meaning is murky of smells deceptive that is where the hard back reference book comes into play. If you don’t remember the term take your trusty book off the shelf and look it up. And look at it twice before you consider betting your hard earned money on its meaning.

In case it is not obvious, I recommend this book for any Joe or Sue Citizen wishing to explore the depth of unfamiliar financial waters before they take a plunge. For those who are already expert nomenclature swimmers, avoid this book as it is too simple for your accustomed mindset. If you just want to know what in Sam heck they are talking about on the business channel because they are all running around with their hair on fire in some financial meltdown then the audio version alone may be enough for you disinvested interest. You will remember what they are talking about or know where to go to look it up.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

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A Fantastic Overview of Modern Finance!

What made the experience of listening to How to Speak Money the most enjoyable?

This overview of modern finance (while much of it won't be new to the financially savvy) was superbly crafted. The author describes the terms of the modern financial world in the way that everyone within its hallowed halls understands but few are wiling to say. There is an undeniably progressive slant to the conclusions he draws but after learning about the underpinnings of the recent financial crisis, it's hard to walk away with any other conclusion. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the global financial system.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Keynes and Hayek are rendered with more nuance than most other summaries of their "conflict".

Which character – as performed by Sean Pratt – was your favorite?

Overall the narration was superb. Sean Pratt added the perfect intonation that had me hanging on his every word. Even relatively boring sections were delivered with color that engages the listener.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The inclusion in the lexicon of WuTang Clan's C.R.E.A.M. was both close to my heart and surprisingly relevant.

Any additional comments?

You won't listen to the financial news the same way after listening to this book. It will make everyone more financially literate.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Philo
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 05-19-15

40 minutes in, all filler and no useful content

Rarely do I abandon a book mid-listen. This author manages to show the worst of the popular books genre by opening with telling the same few low-information things six ways to sell the reader on the book's basic idea (already shown in the title). The author SHOULD KNOW the reader already is sold on the concept and wants (and is paying for) information. There is so much sympathetic hand-holding here and so little substantive content, minute after minute, paragraph after paragraph, it is dazzling. It is all reiterating the "give yourself permission to feel good about yourself" noise and tedium already glutting the popular books market. This might work for a very scared novice customer who can't seem to get started, and I commend it to that person. As a person with a smidgen of existing knowledge and self-respect, I can't take it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Better read than heard

Much of the book is a huge glossary of terminology. While each term is described effectively it doesn't provide the greatest listening experience. Sort of like listening to someone reading the dictionary.

Also the conclusions reached are pretty much favoring one political position, with little effort made to present a balanced approach. It is thankful free of name calling and demonizing of the opposite position.

Still I'd recommend it, as its one of the best overviews on economics out there and a good primer on the subject.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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strong liberal bias

This book comes with excellent professional reviews and is worth reading. However, the author displays antagonism towards conservative thinking without using facts or logic to support his position.
Lancaster dismisses supply side economics by saying Why hasn't it worked yet?
Anyone who submitted that concept as a senior thesis would receive a failing grade.
Still I learned a lot and do not regret listening to it. The Narrator is pleasant.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Ok, but definite liberal spin on everything

Just tired of everything tainted with political spin: left or right. Understanding that financial opinion can be affected by political terrain, this is political opinion with financial mixed in.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Disappointingly politically biased and pretentious

While the base level information was useful and appreciated, the additional political views and shallow socio-economic analysis made this hard to finish.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Meh...

Pretty basic dictionary of financial terms, written by a pro marx writer...Probably would have been more entertaining if it was written by an insider with actual stories about the markets who didn't disdain capitalism.

The books reader was great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Understand financial double talk??

Where does How to Speak Money rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very interesting antidotes about econ, financial world.

What did you like best about this story?

It's not a story, it's more like a dictionary.

What about Sean Pratt’s performance did you like?

Nice performance.Always enjoy him.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

n/a

Any additional comments?

If you don't understand what they're talking about on the financial news, this will help you immensely. If you're in business, this probably won't be very interesting. Will listen to it again.

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worth it

only part that was difficult to get through was the glossary. everything else was fantastic.

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  • Tracy Gribble
  • 04-08-18

72

As a scientist, I used to think I disliked economics for all its sudo-science terms. I now know that I do.
I’m also skeptical about any book that uses the phrase “let’s begin” 2.5hrs in! Be warned that 6.5 hours of this are literally a man reading a glossary with brief anecdotes. It’s rather dry, although it is informative and a useful introduction to money-slang.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for AS
  • AS
  • 10-01-17

worth a read

A fun introduction to the world of money. I read this book in conjunction with other introductory economics material such as YouTube lectures and Great Courses Audible series. It helped consolidate ideas that I first encountered in these other sources.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Jessica
  • Jessica
  • 10-16-14

Horrible narration.

Would you try another book written by John Lanchester or narrated by Sean Pratt?

Having heard a number of interviews with the author I pre-ordered the book and was expecting a sort of erudite British person mordantly analysing capitalism! This narrator makes the book sound like 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' or something! I am so disappointed. I'm sure the narrator's voice is perfect for other work but seems out of step with this book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Thomas
  • Thomas
  • 01-29-15

A journalist dressed up as an economist

I just wanted a book that explained some of the jargon of economic chat, instead I'm being told the authors opinion on the World Development Goals, and how terrible it is that rich people are getting more rich. I had to switch off when he made the comment along the lines of 'neo-liberalism' replacing the Bretton Woods system - Who on earth can argue that? modern Libertarianism is crying out for a return to the gold standard...

0 of 1 people found this review helpful