"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Book Reviews

A series of book reviews on the Finance Crunch
(Banking Should Be Boring)

Blaming Bankers for the Failings of Economists: Richard Posner - BusinessWeek

"The principal economic lesson is the inherent instability of the financial sector and the consequent need for alert, intelligent regulation."

Defusing the Banks' Financial Time Bomb - BusinessWeek

Here's an offer: Invest a lot of money in a faltering project, and if things go well, you'll get your money back and maybe a little upside; but if it all goes south, you'll bear the entire loss. Not exactly the sort of terms to which anyone of sound mind would agree.

But this, says Robert Pozen, is exactly what the government signed on for in 2008—and more than just once—as the financial world swayed on the brink of collapse. In Too Big to Save? How to Fix the U.S. Financial System, Pozen, an eminent money manager and authority on financial regulation, rails against the waste and poor judgment that characterize many of the bailout deals of that year. His term for it is "one-way capitalism"—since only the banks were in line for real gains. And readers won't be able to mistake his disgust that the players who had taken the most foolish risks found themselves in the most advantageous spots."

The financial crisis and the future of regulation: Blame game | The Economist

Two influential economists take a potshot at financial policymakers. Why don't their criticisms add up?

Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy. By Joseph Stiglitz.

13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. By Simon Johnson and James Kwak.

The financial crisis explained: A novel view | The Economist: "Books & Arts

The financial crisis explained
A novel view

IOU: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay. By John Lanchester. Simon & Schuster;"

...those who want to make sense of it all will have to make do with the factual analysis of John Lanchester, a British writer of fiction.

Mr Lanchester’s short book will not add much to the knowledge of your average hedge-fund manager and central banker. Anyone who has slalomed through the avalanche of specialist tomes on the crisis will recognise many of his sources. But for the neophyte reader, Mr Lanchester demonstrates both an impressive grasp of the detail and, more importantly, the ability to convey it in a down-to-earth and witty style.

Prophets of the financial crisis: All geek to them | The Economist:

Those that did win

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. By Michael Lewis. Norton;

and a whistle blower on Madoff

No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller. By Harry Markopolos. Wiley;

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