Thursday, September 24, 2009

Four Men, Four Banks, and a Crisis

Breaking the Bank
Just when you think you've heard the last "back from the brink", "economy-in-crisis" storyline, in comes an economic history book that's at least as scary as the recent financial meltdown.

Ahamed Liaquat's Lords of Finance : the Bankers Who Broke the World tells the stories of the men in charge of the four principal central banks of the world after World War I : Montagu Norman (Bank of England), Émile Moreau (Banque de France), Hjalmar Schacht (Reichsbank in Germany), and Benjamin Strong (Federal Reserve Bank of New York), who attempted to reconstruct international finance after World War I and return to the gold standard. Liaquat describes how, in the mid-1920s, they appeared to succeed in creating economic growth... and the subsequent problems that led to the Great Depression.

Sound Familiar?
For more recent "more banks and a crisis story" reads, try Vanity Fair's interview with former Treasury Chief, Henry Paulson (Paulson's book On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System is due out next month) or try:

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense : the Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers by Lawrence G. McDonald

House of Cards : a Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street by William D. Cohan

In Fed We Trust : Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic by David Wessel

Street Fighters : the Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street by Kate Kelly

And Then the Roof Caved in : How Wall Street's Greed and Stupidity Brought Capitalism to Its Knees by David Faber

Fool's Gold : How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe by Gillian Tett