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Lords of Finance: 1929, The Great Depression, and the Bankers who Broke the World (Anglais) Broché – 7 janvier 2010


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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"NIALL FERGUSON: 'Highly readable... [Ahamed] cannot have foreseen how timely his book would be." (FT)

"ROBERT PESTON: 'Compelling and convincing...humanises the world's descent into economic chaos.'" (Sunday Times)

"'Fascinating... Anyone who wants to understand the origins of the economic world we live in would do well to read this book...brisk, original, incisive and entertaining." (Michael Beschloss)

"One of those rare books - authoritative, readable and relevant - that puts the "story" back into history... a spellbinding, richly human [and] cinematic narrative." (Strobe Talbott)

"Absorbing [and] provocative, not least because it is still relevant." (The Economist)

Présentation de l'éditeur

THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.

The current financial crisis has only one parallel: the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression of the 1930s, which crippled the future of an entire generation and set the stage for the horrors of the Second World War. Yet the economic meltdown could have been avoided, had it not been for the decisions taken by a small number of central bankers.

In Lords of Finance, we meet these men, the four bankers who truly broke the world: the enigmatic Norman Montagu of the bank of England, Benjamin Strong of the NY Federal Reserve, the arrogant yet brilliant Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbanlk and the xenophobic Emile Moreau of the Banque de France. Their names were lost to history, their lives and actions forgotten, until now. Liaquat Ahamed tells their story in vivid and gripping detail, in a timely and arresting reminder that individuals - their ambitions, limitations and human nature - lie at the very heart of global catastrophe.



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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 576 pages
  • Editeur : Windmill Books (7 janvier 2010)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 009949308X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099493082
  • Dimensions du produit: 12,7 x 3,7 x 19,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Georic le 4 février 2010
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
J'adore l'histoire et j'aime les romans.C'est pourquoi j'adore ce livre.
Beaucoup d'anecdotes et de détails permettent de voir la vie de cette époque où 4 personnages, 2 surtout, faisaient la politique économique du monde, où le Patron de la Fed pouvait partir en vacances en Europe pour 3 mois ou soigner sa tuberculose dans les montagnes 6 mois par an. Un autre rythme de vie, et pourtant, l'auteur s'attache à montrer les similitudes, nombreuses, avec notre époque. Helicopter Ben ne déparerait pas dans la galerie.
Les enjeux de l'étalon or et de la monnaie de réserve pour les nuls comme moi.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par BCa le 9 août 2012
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Excellent ouvrage, assez facilement lisible, même sans compétence particulière en ce domaine.

Centré sur les gouverneurs de banques centrales française, anglaise, allemande et américaine, le livre donne un éclairage remarquable sur l'environnement économique et financier de cette période, dans le monde et particulièrement en Allemagne, débouchant sur la crise des années 30 et la montée du nazisme.

L'auteur attribue des bons et des mauvais points à chacun des 4 gouverneurs. Sont-ils mérités ? D'autres gouverneurs auraient-ils pu éviter l'arrivée de ces drames ? Le rôle des politiques n'a-t-il pas été au moins aussi important ?

A lire maintenant, en anglais ou en français, pour prendre du recul sur la situation actuelle.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Billy Durant le 11 février 2011
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Une très belle fresque historique des évènements de l'après-première guerre mondiale jusqu'aux années de la grande dépression, vue par le prisme des quatre principaux banquiers centraux de l'époque (Norman, Strong, Schacht et Moreau). C'est un livre d'histoire qui se dévore comme un roman, le travail de recherche en amont livre quantité de détails et d'anecdotes remarquables (parfois trop, comme ce menu détaillé de repas français lors des conférences d'après-guerre)... La thèse de l'auteur est donc que les décisions des banquiers centraux ont été responsables de la crise, le seul problème est que même à la fin du livre cela ne parait pas si évident, ni aussi simple. Mais à lire absolument.
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Par du Chastel le 27 mai 2013
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Lords of Finance: The Banker Who Broke the World

Brillant, bien documenté, donne une perspective historique à l'actualité. L'histoire peut se repeter mais?
Ce livre donne les clefs de cette réflexion...
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194 internautes sur 207 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Central Banks in the First 40 years of the 20th Century 7 février 2009
Par Donald Costello - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
First, let me say that this is an extremely well written book. I was expecting to have to plow through the usual dreadful writing that finance and economics seems to generate. To my surprise I found a book that was crisp, clear, and interesting. Fun, in fact. Second, the author covers a period and a topic that is sadly neglected in most histories - the inter-war period, and especially the financial events that played a major role in the rise of Hitler and the origins of the Second World War.

The book is primarily the story of 4 Central Banks - those of the US, England, France, and Germany, and of the heads of those banks. The book actually covers a longer span than the inter-war period, it includes important information about the banks just prior to the First World War, their activities during the war, and extends into the Second World War. The lead-in is especially important, because it explains so much of what happened during the inter-war period.

The events are too complicated to review in detail, but the author explains them well and shows how the personalities of the Bankers as well as the politics of the times influenced events. Let us just say, mistakes were made.

My one quibble with the book is that the author is rather unsparing in his criticism of the bankers. Although this is somewhat justified, I ended up feeling sympathetic to at least the heads of the US Federal Reserve and the Governor of the Bank of England. Their primary fault was an inability to see beyond the conventional economic wisdom of the times. In point of fact, the only person who seemed to get it right during this time was Maynard Keynes. If we are to judge everyone against the standard of the most brilliant mind in their field, very very few of us are going to come out well.

The most important point the book makes is how factors other than purely economic issues play a role in making economic decisions, but how the consequences of those economic decisions then rebound onto the wider political history of the times. While the book deals with a different time and political landscape, the parallels to our own times are VERY frightening. The author does not emphasize the parallels, and the book was actually completed before many parallel events occurred. To my mind that just makes them more compelling.
302 internautes sur 326 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Four Bankers of Apocalypse 25 janvier 2009
Par Izaak VanGaalen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Liaquat Ahamed, a former World Bank economist and investment fund manager, began research on this book long before the current financial crisis, having no idea of the relevance it would have upon its publication. It is a history of the financial and economic turmoil that began in 1914 and didn't really end until after World War II. He traces the development of this crisis through the lives and actions of four central bankers: Benjamin Strong of the Federal Reserve of New York, Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, Emile Morceau of the Banque de France, and Hjalmer Schacht of the Reichsbank of Germany. The liquidity crisis of 1914 has suddenly become a subject of interest as it bears relevance to today's problems.

Ahamed's central thesis is that the critical decisions made by these four bankers not only caused the Great Depression but also created the conditions for World War II. The most fateful event of all was the decision to adhere to the gold standard. In retrospect, tying the amount of currency a country has in circulation to the amount of gold it has in its vaults appears arbitrary and nonsensical. However, it seemed like a good idea at the time, it provided a universal standard against which countries could stablize their currencies. Unfortunately it became a straight jacket which gave them little room to maneuver.

When the big four bankers came into power in the mid-1920s, the use of the gold standard actually seemed to be working, currencies were stabalized and capital was once again flowing. The problem however was that there was not enough gold in existence to proide enough capital to finance world trade. According to Ahamed, this was the central flaw in the financial system that led to the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. Of course, the chain of events was more complicated than that and Ahamed recognizes the complexity. Each of the four bankers and their respective countries were pursuing their own agendas as opposed to trying to save the system as a whole, the gold standard was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Ahamed has written an interesting history of what otherwise would be a fairly dull story. It makes one think about flaws in the system - like sub-prime mortgages, derivatives and the excessive use of credit - and how things could have been different if they had been recognized earlier.
153 internautes sur 174 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Could it happen again? 3 mai 2009
Par David M. Gondek - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
"I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when looked at in the right way did not become still more complicated."

The author begins the epilogue with this insightful quote but ignores the wisdom of it for most of the preceding chapters.

He acknowledges that Roosevelt "did not even pretend to grasp fully the subtleties of international finance" and that few elements of his New Deal policies "were well thought out, some were contradictory and large parts were ineffectual." He then concludes that the temporary abandonment of the gold standard and the devaluation of the dollar "succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations". The conclusion left for the reader seems to be that Roosevelt advocated many foolish polices and, when it came to economics at least, was extremely naive but that since he devalued the dollar he was ultimately vindicated.

The author should have subtitled the book 'How The Gold Standard Broke The World'. Virtually every chapter implies that the gold standard is the explanation behind all the world's economic disruptions. There is no discussion of what the world might have looked like after Roosevelt's policies if there had been no World War, or worse, if the Allies had lost. Without the benefits of supplying and financing the War and subsequent rebuilding of Europe after the War what would have become of the United States economy? Well, I guess we'll never know...or will we?

Given that Keynesian economics is being recycled to address the current economic crisis perhaps we will finally discover whether deficit spending and currency manipulation are truly panaceas or whether this complicated crisis, when looked at in the right way does not become still more complicated.

It was not the gold standard itself that politicians and opportunists wanted to be rid of. They wanted to be free from dealing with sound accounting and moral principles that interfered with their ambition for increased wealth and perpetuation of power. These are the same 'masters of the universe' who today want to be rid of mark-to-market accounting. It is always defended with arguments about the public good and about 'optimizing' economic activity but somehow, somewhere this kind of capitalism always ensures that the unwashed masses continue to be exploited for the enrichment of the few.

This book is a great example of the syllogism. It lays out a great many facts and details and one main conclusion. Unfortunately the connection between these facts and the conclusion is never adequately defended. The rooster crows and the sun rises and the rest remains virtually unexplored. At best this book should be the beginning of a discussion of the gold standard...certainly not the end.

And, yes, this can happen again. Each generation looks back on those that came before them with a supercilious attitude:

"On August 30, 1914, barely a month into the fighting, Charles Conant of the New York Times reported that the international banking community was very confident that there would not be the sort of unlimited issue of paper [money] and its steady depreciation, which had wrought such inflationary havoc in previous wars. Monetary science is better understood at the present time than in those days, declared the bankers confidently."

It seems that all economic systems and philosophies suffer from the same intrinsic flaw...human nature.
62 internautes sur 70 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Four Men Could Have Prevented the Depression: Hopefully, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Adviser Larry Summers Have Read It! 22 janvier 2009
Par Robert Haft - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Lords of Finance is a gripping story with forgotten yet worthy characters and villains hidden inside the drama of The Great Crash and Depression. It is a lively and fascinating "event by event" look at the slow motion lead up to The Great Crash, and the four men that could have prevented the Depression.

Each thought they were pursuing a reasonable course (think prisoners dilemma), yet their tragic lack of vision and coordination doomed the world to a long and painful decade of decline.

This book will keep you up at night (probably afraid for what is left of your IRA, portfolio, or home value) reading to find out what has happened to these four men and how they continually missed opportunities.

In the end they were overtaken by their biases, rivalries, vacations and countries they represented: The United States, Britain, France and Germany.

Falling stock prices, falling international trade, falling prices, falling commodities, a rush to hold dollars, declining interest rates but lack of loan availability, decisions to save some politically connected banks but not others, and a lack of consensus on an answer, all make 1929 and 2009 have an eerie similarity?

Substitute a real estate bubble for fixed priced gold, reparations for sub prime, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for Treasury Secretary Paul Mellon, and the book reads like an echo of the slow motion days leading up to the Great Crash and the Depression that followed.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Masterpiece 27 février 2009
Par Crosslands - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Mr. Ahamed has written a wonderful book on both the financiers who dominated money policy in the period between the two world wars and the economic history of that period. Mr. Ahamed writes very clearly and well about both the bankers and the period. His writing is also as vivid and interesting as it is clear. And Mr. Ahamed's writing imparts a extremely vast amount of detail and information on the economics of the 1920s and the Great Depression. He has provided an extensive list of references along with a vast amount of footnotes. Mr. Ahamed's work is history and economic history at its best.

Among the major gems of information provided by Mr. Ahamed is the baneful effect of the gold standard between the world wars. As other economists such as Peter Temin have indicated, each economy began to recover from the Great Depression when the economy left the gold standard almost invariably. Mr. Ahamed demonstrates the absurdity of Montagu Norman's policy of restoring the British pound to its pre World War I value in gold.

Mr. Ahamed also demonstrates how World War I drastically changed economic conditions so that the British led prewar gold standard was an impossibility. He also demonstrates the pernicious and poisonous effect of the reparations imposed on the former Central Powers by the Treaty of Versailles. These reparations gravely hindered international cooperation. And Mr. Ahamed makes evident that the central bankers have a colossal impact on the economy and the lives of individuals all over the world.

This book is a must read for all Americans, particularly those who have studied economics.
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