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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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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.
Remarque sur ce commentaire Une personne a trouvé cela utile. Avez-vous trouvé ce commentaire utile ? Oui Non Commentaire en cours d'envoi...
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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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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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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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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x980fba08) étoiles sur 5 311 commentaires
211 internautes sur 225 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x97dfc234) étoiles sur 5 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.
313 internautes sur 339 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x97d51180) étoiles sur 5 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.
170 internautes sur 194 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x97d3f438) étoiles sur 5 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.
65 internautes sur 73 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x982f2348) étoiles sur 5 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.
25 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x982f24f8) étoiles sur 5 The Mistakes Men Make 11 février 2009
Par Michael B. Crutcher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
How did the world plunge into the financial crisis of 1929-1933 and are we likely to follow that dismal path today? To probe this question, Liaquat Ahmaed, a professional investment manager, has written an absolutely absorbing economic history. He focuses on the principal players ("The Lords of Finance") in the financial world of the 1920's and 1930's, the central bankers of the United States, Britain, France and Germany. They were regarded at the time as members of the world's most exclusive club. Forgotten men today (and all were men,) Montagu Norman (the U.K.), Benjamin Strong (the U.S.), Hjalmar Schacht (Germany) and Emile Moreau (France) struggled with how to deal with the enormous reparation payments due from Germany under The Versailles Treaty, the likewise huge war debts owned by the victorious powers to the United States, and when to return to the gold standard, which had been abandoned during the war.
These financial titans were "the best and the brightest" of their times and they made error after error in dealing with these problems. As Ahmaed writes, they were a "group of men who understood none of this [the Crash of 1929], whose ideas about the economy were at best outmoded and at worst plain wrong." Germany could never realistically repay its reparations debt. Similarly, Britain and France could never pay back the U.S. for money borrowed during the war. (Of all the allied powers, only Finland finally paid of its World War One debt.) Returning to the gold standard was a huge mistake. Among economists, only Britain's Maynard Keynes realized that the gold standard would hamstring economic growth. (Of course Keynes also realized the futility of reparation payments in his famous book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace.) When the financial crisis struck, none of the central banks adequately played the role of "lender of last resort." While under Roosevelt the Federal Reserve was reformed and the U.S. government took an activist role in the economy, it was a case of too little, too late.
By focusing on the lives of these key bankers, each of who was idiosyncratic, Mr. Ahmaed has produced a fascinating volume, full of interesting personalities (Bernard Barauch, Winston Churchill, Herbert Hoover and Dean Acheson, to name a few). Ahmaed speculates that had Benjamin Strong (head of the New York Fed) not died in 1928, there might have been a figure strong enough to pull together the central bankers for a concerted attack on the financial crisis. (It is also scary to consider that our central bankers today are "the best and the brightest" and may also be making terrible but different mistakes, blinded as they are by the orthodoxy of today's economic thinking.)
Ahmaed writes with grace and style. It is a wonderful achievement for a man who apparently is new to the writing of history. He also explains the mysteries of international finance, gold reserves and currency fluctuations in terms anybody can grasp. For an understanding of the financial climate that led to The Great Depression, and for pure entertainment, The Lords of Finance is highly recommended.
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