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For the past forty years western economies have splurged on debt. Now, as the reality dawns that many debts cannot be repaid, we find ourselves again in crisis. But the oncoming defaults have a time-worn place in our economic history. As with the crises in the 1930s and 1970s, governments will fall, currencies will lose their value, and new systems will emerge. Just as For the past forty years western economies have splurged on debt. Now, as the reality dawns that many debts cannot be repaid, we find ourselves again in crisis. But the oncoming defaults have a time-worn place in our economic history. As with the crises in the 1930s and 1970s, governments will fall, currencies will lose their value, and new systems will emerge. Just as Britain set the terms of the international system in the nineteenth century, and America in the twentieth century, a new system will be set by today's creditors in China and the Middle East. In the process, rich will be pitted against poor, young against old, public sector workers against taxpayers and one country against another.In Paper Promises, Economist columnist Philip Coggan helps us to understand the origins of this mess and how it will affect the new global economy by explaining how our attitudes towards debt have changed throughout history, and how they may be about to change again. Winner of the Spear's Best Business Book Award Longlisted for the 2012 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award


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For the past forty years western economies have splurged on debt. Now, as the reality dawns that many debts cannot be repaid, we find ourselves again in crisis. But the oncoming defaults have a time-worn place in our economic history. As with the crises in the 1930s and 1970s, governments will fall, currencies will lose their value, and new systems will emerge. Just as For the past forty years western economies have splurged on debt. Now, as the reality dawns that many debts cannot be repaid, we find ourselves again in crisis. But the oncoming defaults have a time-worn place in our economic history. As with the crises in the 1930s and 1970s, governments will fall, currencies will lose their value, and new systems will emerge. Just as Britain set the terms of the international system in the nineteenth century, and America in the twentieth century, a new system will be set by today's creditors in China and the Middle East. In the process, rich will be pitted against poor, young against old, public sector workers against taxpayers and one country against another.In Paper Promises, Economist columnist Philip Coggan helps us to understand the origins of this mess and how it will affect the new global economy by explaining how our attitudes towards debt have changed throughout history, and how they may be about to change again. Winner of the Spear's Best Business Book Award Longlisted for the 2012 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award

30 review for Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order

  1. 5 out of 5

    Abi Rhodes

    On all British bank notes from 5 to 50 the words ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of …’ still appear. In eighteen-century Europe an experiment with paper money was begun by John Law, a Scottish mathematician and gambler, who moved to France toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The monarchy of France was, at this time, verging on bankruptcy and, as the successor to the King was still only an infant, the duc d’Orléans held the reins. John Law suggested to him that the creation On all British bank notes from £5 to £50 the words ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of …’ still appear. In eighteen-century Europe an experiment with paper money was begun by John Law, a Scottish mathematician and gambler, who moved to France toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The monarchy of France was, at this time, verging on bankruptcy and, as the successor to the King was still only an infant, the duc d’Orléans held the reins. John Law suggested to him that the creation of a bank that could issue paper money in lieu of gold and silver was the best way to get France out of debt. The Banque Générale was created and the duc d’Orléans decreed all taxes could be paid using Law’s new paper money. Unfortunately, Law held the view that ‘it did not matter that paper money was not backed by an equal amount of gold and silver’ and it was this belief that Coggan cites as the downfall to this early experiment: ‘Had the scheme been kept on a modest scale, with banknotes backed by gold and silver, French economic growth might indeed have been boosted over the long run.’ However, Law’s experiment did not diminish the eventual power of paper money, primarily because precious metals are easy to steal, rare and cumbersome to manoeuvre. In order to keep their gold and silver safe people began to store their valuables in safes at goldsmiths where they would receive a receipt for their deposit. This receipt was effectively an early banknote and the reason why we see the words ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of …’ on our modern day equivalents. The difference between the original receipts and today’s notes is that these days the bearer cannot go into a bank (or a goldsmith) and demand the requisite amount of gold in return for the paper money. This is because in the 1930s the global economy broke with the gold standard, so today most of the world’s currencies are no longer linked to the amount of gold any given country holds in its reserves. Instead most currencies are pegged to the US dollar and worth as much as the exchange rate claims it to be. In Paper Money Phillip Coggan charts the journey of money from its direct links with gold to the present day climate of abstract money, exchanged at the press of a button. This book provides a valuable insight into the field of economics for those of us who have never studied in depth the ins and outs of such a complex system. The author succinctly charts the story of money and outlines, in layman’s terms, the reason why we find ourselves in the current financial crisis. The reader is taken step by step through the Depression of the 1930s, the breakdown of Bretton Woods, asset bubbles, the problem with sub-prime mortgages, all the way to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the vast debts the world is now drowning in. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb states on the front cover, ‘This book stands way above anything written on the present economic crisis’, and furthermore it explains it all in a way that anyone with any interest in the subject can understand.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    Philip Coggan has compiled a 400 page book with enough knowledge and analysis to make it feel like an 800 page book, without seeming at all like a long and demanding read. Having read previous books in the financial and monetary sector, Paper Promises compares favorably in the sense that it is truly the best of all worlds. The first part of the book is a financial and monetary history in every sense worthy of Niall Ferguson's Ascent of Money, coupled with a monetary analysis every bit as astute as Philip Coggan has compiled a 400 page book with enough knowledge and analysis to make it feel like an 800 page book, without seeming at all like a long and demanding read. Having read previous books in the financial and monetary sector, Paper Promises compares favorably in the sense that it is truly the best of all worlds. The first part of the book is a financial and monetary history in every sense worthy of Niall Ferguson's Ascent of Money, coupled with a monetary analysis every bit as astute as the works of Barry Eichengreen, but much more readable. Despite the length of the book, Coggan leaves no stone unturned. The collapse of the Gold Standard, Bretton Woods, and the 2008 and subsequent sovereign debt crisis are all covered appropriately within this volume. Rather than just been a simple chronological sweep of finance, phenomena such as bubbles, inflation, and monetary practices such as quantitative easing are all explained. One is hardly left wanting for more, as most questions one is left asking after the events of recent years receive explanation. As a book that, among many other things, focuses on the value of money, Paper Promises in itself is superb value for money, and an important asset for the investment portfolio of any economics enthusiast.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Waleed

    Lucid explanation, written in 2011, of how the western economies got into the mess of 2007-8, and of how little was done to correct the underlying problems. Coggan forecasts another crisis, even worse than the 2008 crunch, and it is difficult to disagree with him.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Bor

    Another book on economics in general and debt in particular. This one is from an author who also writes for the Economist. And it shows. In a good way. The story is very readable and well-constructed. It shows how we moved from bartering, metal, the gold standard, Bretton Woods, to the dollar standard. The author describes debt as basically a struggle between creditor and debtor and, if seen this way, how it clarifies debt struggles throughout the ages. Especially 2007-2008 is analyzed. The Another book on economics in general and debt in particular. This one is from an author who also writes for the Economist. And it shows. In a good way. The story is very readable and well-constructed. It shows how we moved from bartering, metal, the gold standard, Bretton Woods, to the dollar standard. The author describes debt as basically a struggle between creditor and debtor and, if seen this way, how it clarifies debt struggles throughout the ages. Especially 2007-2008 is analyzed. The post-Bretton Woods system has broken down, that much is made clear. Interesting are the chapters where the author theorizes on possible solutions. One of the most scary, interesting ones, highly rated as possible by the author, is one where the biggest creditor on earth, China, puts its mark on a new system. It would probably be about taking away free capital flows. Just imagine how this would nearly wipe out an entire industry... maybe that is not even a bad thing, giving how this industry has benefited from good investment calls, while pushing away bad debt to us, the tax payer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Neil Johnstone

    Truly a fascinating book, about the different stages of the world monetary systems briefly from bartering, gold standard, Breton woods and now floating exchange rates. This books covers loads of financial stories and the credit crunch with reasons why it happened and not just cuz bankers are wankers cuz we all over borrowed and trusted that housing is a says market, even tho fucking Adam smith said that's false growth some 300 years ago. First book on economics and thought it might be a hard slog Truly a fascinating book, about the different stages of the world monetary systems briefly from bartering, gold standard, Breton woods and now floating exchange rates. This books covers loads of financial stories and the credit crunch with reasons why it happened and not just cuz bankers are wankers cuz we all over borrowed and trusted that housing is a says market, even tho fucking Adam smith said that's false growth some 300 years ago. First book on economics and thought it might be a hard slog but turn about a very easy and enjoyable read. Recommend to everyone and if I could I'd give 6 stars!

  6. 5 out of 5

    InvestingByTheBooks.com

    Many of you who read this are probably avid readers of The Economist. I am always amazed at how many great articles that are written every week and especially how quickly and concisely they are able to comment on complicated and current matters. How wonderful then that a reporter of that magazine Mr Phillip Coggan (previously, among other things, also at FT, writing the Long view) has written a book on one of the most relevant subjects today, debt. Not just that, but putting debt in an historic Many of you who read this are probably avid readers of The Economist. I am always amazed at how many great articles that are written every week and especially how quickly and concisely they are able to comment on complicated and current matters. How wonderful then that a reporter of that magazine Mr Phillip Coggan (previously, among other things, also at FT, writing the Long view) has written a book on one of the most relevant subjects today, debt. Not just that, but putting debt in an historic context. It’s a story about how we all went from using gold to accepting paper money, with zero value. He calls it the wars between creditors and debtors. The book makes several interesting points, among them, please think about this: In between 1882-1982 US GDP grew 3.4% per annum, with total debt stable. How much did GDP increase from 1982 to today, and how much did debt increase? The answer is at the bottom of this page. Key events for the author are the rise and fall of the gold standard and of Bretton Woods, and finally the current system. Mr Coggan describes all systems positives and negatives, but doesn’t have clear cut views on what’s best or what the endgame will be. His only conclusion, which is the same as many others like Rogoff etc, is that debt levels are too high, and that default in some form is unavoidable. In the final part of the book, he states that when paper promises breaks, this will result in an economic turmoil, which we just have seen the start of. I found his arguments convincing and the way he gives a historic perspective to current events makes this a must read if you are going to understand the world for the next 10+ years. Paper Promises is a book that is very easy to read, with a multiple of interesting references so it’s easy to dig into whatever subject triggers further interest. However, it requires full concentration and I also think it helps to have read a few other books on similar topics like Niall Fergusson’s The Ascent of Money or Cash Nexus, or Carmen/Rogoff’s This Time It’s Different. My views are neither those of a gold bug nor those of Lord Keynes, but rather, the pragmatist. Reading this book gives several arguments to both sides of the debate but also a lot of critique, which I appreciate. Coggan is in the more bearish camp, payback time is now, so he has a lot of references to well-known bears. But he is not just bearish based upon the increase in debt, but also on the basis of the weak trends in demographics, unrecognised pension liabilities, ever increasing healthcare costs as well as the risks of long term higher energy prices. That’s all fine to me, but I think he misses out on some potential hopes, mainly the fact that emerging markets are growing very fast, and that could mean a relatively high sustainable global growth rate and new technology breakthroughs are not considered. So my only complaint with the book would be that it lacks an honest and sincere discussion on where he (and most intellectuals) could be wrong. If you haven’t read any books on these topics, this should be your first. You could then follow up with the other books mentioned above. On a final note – the generation that lived through the 30’s, i.e his father, tended to be highly suspicious of debt after the depression. Coggan, the senior, refused to have a credit card. He cut the cards in unsolicited offers into pieces and sent them back to the card companies with stern lectures on inflation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rustam Aliyev

    This book describes the history of money since the gold standard till the modern days. Very well segregates different stages of me net development. What I didn't like was the fact that the reader is expected to know many of the events which took place - background knowledge makes this book simpler to read and understand. Another weak part is a series of predictions that the author attempts to make. Some of them have already got cancelled.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gedankenkatze

    At the ending of historical experiments of unprecedented monetary easing, you must refresh your understanding of monetary system und currency. This is the best for doing so. Real purchasing power of your saving has been reduced by your own central bank for rescuing monetary system. You should not overlook such stealth taxation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Written in 2012, the author may be a bit off base in assuming the inexorable rise and rise of China. However, the history of money and debt leading up to and including the 2007-8 meltdown is very well done.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Breakingviews

    By Robert Cole Do you want to know how global financial system came to be and what it has become? Do you want to re-examine what you think you know? Paper Promises, by journalist Philip Coggan, is a good place to look for answers to those questions. Coggan’s concise and lucid book will leave readers deeply doubtful about the system’s reliability and durability. At the centre of his portrait is the unending tussle between lenders and borrowers. Economies of all sorts have been undermined, says By Robert Cole Do you want to know how global financial system came to be and what it has become? Do you want to re-examine what you think you know? Paper Promises, by journalist Philip Coggan, is a good place to look for answers to those questions. Coggan’s concise and lucid book will leave readers deeply doubtful about the system’s reliability and durability. At the centre of his portrait is the unending tussle between lenders and borrowers. Economies of all sorts have been undermined, says Coggan, because lenders have so frequently come off second best. Coggan charts the disappointments - from Dionysus to Kim Jong Il, via John Law’s France, Weimar Germany and the ongoing post-2008 crisis - with analysis that is as comprehensive as it is sobering. Coggan also leaves readers in no doubt about his view that the Western world has been better at creating debts than wealth over the last 40 years. “Clearing the mess will be a long, slow process,” he says. “The debts may be repaid in inflated money, or devalued currency; they may be passed on to other governments with a greater capacity to pay; or they may result in outright default.” It is hard to argue with Coggan’s contention that developed world growth over the last forty years has been fuelled by reckless borrowing. He’s right to express concern that Western economies, now tied in knots of debt with dwindling energy and growing welfare obligations, will struggle to find genuine growth. Yet he is also right to assert that lenders join borrowers in the mire if loans turn sour. As he points out, Chinese prosperity depends, at least in part, on lending to Western export markets. Looking to the future, Coggan says that global economy is changing and suggests that a new world order will emerge. Noting that China, a massive holder of US Treasuries, is the world’s most powerful creditor, he also says that the new order will be “made in China”. That means the Middle Kingdom will take a tougher stance on enforcing its contracts. Good for China, certainly. But will, as Coggan suggests, the West really suffer as a result of the change? Boatloads of historical precedent will be overturned if the new order leaves lenders with paper promises they can depend on, and borrowers borrowing only what they can truly afford. But the benefits of such change, and the dependable money systems it would foster, would accrue in all corners of the globe.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    Paper Promises (2011) by Phillip Coggan is a masterful study of money and debt. Coggan worked at the Financial Times for 20 years and now writes at The Economist. He has written a number of books on finance that are all highly regarded. The book looks at the history of money and credit and concentrates on the post industrial revolution world where credit and fiat currency rapidly expanded. The book starts with a brief look at money in history before moving the C19 and then C20 and most of the Paper Promises (2011) by Phillip Coggan is a masterful study of money and debt. Coggan worked at the Financial Times for 20 years and now writes at The Economist. He has written a number of books on finance that are all highly regarded. The book looks at the history of money and credit and concentrates on the post industrial revolution world where credit and fiat currency rapidly expanded. The book starts with a brief look at money in history before moving the C19 and then C20 and most of the book looks at the period from the depression onwards. The impact of tight money in the depression is carefully examined. Beyond that the Bretton Woods settlement that was in place during the rapid economic growth after WWII and the post Bretton Woods era of freely traded rapidly inflating currencies and the GFC is studied. The book has a lot of well chosen quotes including the observation the Alan Greenspan displayed asymmetric ignorance in that he knew when a downturn was happening but did not detect bubbles. Coggan also points out how gold was trading at $35 an ounce in 1971 at the end of the Bretton Woods agreement and now trades at $1900, so the modern world has devalued in 40 years as much as Rome did in 200. The last chapters of the book are fascinating. Coggan looks at how the build up of debt in the latter half of the C20 for Social Spending has been managed by substantial population growth as well as productivity growth and that at least the first, and possibly the second is reducing and that the debts accumulated today cannot be paid off. There will have to be reductions in the debt burden either explicitly or through currency devaluation. Coggan does miss however, that budgets can be balanced as was done by Germany, Singapore, Australia’s last competent government and various Scandinavian countries. The book doesn't give firm recommendations and fairly describes various positions on monetary and fiscal policy. The final chapters don’t give a recommendation but rather a description of the serious problems that many countries around the world are now facing. The books tone and insight are very much like The Economist magazine for which Coggan now writes for. The clear, succinct style is a great strength in looking at a complex issue like money. The book is very much worth reading for anyone interested in finance and economics.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    A lucid, even-handed and very timely exposition of the nature of money and credit. Coggan conveys the daunting scale of the debt problem the West has sunk into without sounding hysterical or despairing. The way he contextualises the problem by showing how it is both similar to, and different from previous crises is enlightening - this is one of those books that weaves together scraps of knowledge you already have into a coherent whole. Even so, it is not a tome that reaches out to the most casual A lucid, even-handed and very timely exposition of the nature of money and credit. Coggan conveys the daunting scale of the debt problem the West has sunk into without sounding hysterical or despairing. The way he contextualises the problem by showing how it is both similar to, and different from previous crises is enlightening - this is one of those books that weaves together scraps of knowledge you already have into a coherent whole. Even so, it is not a tome that reaches out to the most casual of readers: it is written in an authoritative style rather than the very personal, conversational tone that seems to be becoming the norm for popular books on economics. You will need a fair amount of interest in economics and a reasonable degree of concentration to get you from beginning to end, but if you make that journey, you will be well rewarded. One of the book's key insights is seeing the world as a power struggle between creditors and debtors. The US, formerly a creditor, has become the world's biggest borrower, with China footing the bill. Meanwhile, individual borrowers dominate the political discourse in many democratic countries, which has caused public and private sector debt to explode with very few options for balancing the books that are politically palatable. What is the way out? It will be interesting - and not a little frightening - to discover this over the next couple of decades.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Arto Suryodipuro

    Money--paper money--functions as a medium of exchange and a store of value. It is the latter that book is all about. How the value of money is measured and how the currencies of the developed economies have constantly lost value, through devaluation and expansionary monetary policies; through inflated and subsequently depressed asset value; and through debts expanded faster than the economy. The book is bleak about the future of the current global financial architecture. The author Money--paper money--functions as a medium of exchange and a store of value. It is the latter that book is all about. How the value of money is measured and how the currencies of the developed economies have constantly lost value, through devaluation and expansionary monetary policies; through inflated and subsequently depressed asset value; and through debts expanded faster than the economy. The book is bleak about the future of the current global financial architecture. The author predicts--hopes--for gradual if fundamental change of order. He is convinced that the new order will be, like many things, made in China. And the he end will be as gradual as did the end of the gold standard and the Bretton Woods system. The current system of liberal exchange rates, with the US Dollar as the dominant currency agains which prices of other currencies and international commodity are measured, cannot be sustained. Reliance on inflating asset prices could not last as the recent crises show. The level of debt in the developed countries are too high and will not be paid in full, either through inflated money, devalued currency, or not at all through default. The level of these economies' productivity is declining because of aging population and higher energy prices that will impact productivity. The future, for Coggan, will be marked by some form of controlled exchange rate among currencies. There will be a retreat of the financial sector as main driver of the global economy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    While this book certainly comes across as quite pessimistic, I found it to be perfectly balanced and intriguing in its predictions. Coggan takes the reader through the evolution of economic policy since the mid-18th century through the 2007-08 recession and its aftermath. Along the way he points out how our understanding of the nature of money, debts and their moral implications have drastically changed. He also shows how after major crisis, especially since the early 20th century, the While this book certainly comes across as quite pessimistic, I found it to be perfectly balanced and intriguing in its predictions. Coggan takes the reader through the evolution of economic policy since the mid-18th century through the 2007-08 recession and its aftermath. Along the way he points out how our understanding of the nature of money, debts and their moral implications have drastically changed. He also shows how after major crisis, especially since the early 20th century, the dominating financial paradigm has drastically changed. He spends time showing how each new paradigm affected the perennial conflict between debtors and creditors as well as the ever increasing clout of the US. He thus finishes the book with an intriguing prediction of what the new paradigm might be and where it might shift economic, and thus political, power. All in all, I found the book quite interesting and, apart from a few lapses into financial jargon, quite readable for the financial layman.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anandh Sundar

    Exceedingly well written book(like most other Economist books, it manages to convey its points in plain english without dumbing down), and very insightful. One can read the book as an introductory primer AND as an advanced reference, depending on their inclination to think and analyze. I thought this is just another of the those post subprime books, but it is worth a read irrespective of the other trash one has read before. But then, that is only expected from an Economist book. Plenty of Exceedingly well written book(like most other Economist books, it manages to convey its points in plain english without dumbing down), and very insightful. One can read the book as an introductory primer AND as an advanced reference, depending on their inclination to think and analyze. I thought this is just another of the those post subprime books, but it is worth a read irrespective of the other trash one has read before. But then, that is only expected from an Economist book. Plenty of literary allusions make this a pleasant read too. Some insights-money as reserve currency=>deficit to run; financial repression & -ve real interest rates->reduce public debt(Basel III?)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Madhur Rao

    Excellent book!!! Helps you understand the current financial crisis through the lens of Debtors and Creditors. China is the biggest creditor while the US is the biggest debtor (contrary to what existed pre 1950s). Governments in all countries always try and protect the interests of debtors and not creditors. Excess debt will probably lead to three things 1) inflation, 2) stagnation 3) default. Any currency devaluations is in effect an indirect way of default. The US currency has depreciated by Excellent book!!! Helps you understand the current financial crisis through the lens of Debtors and Creditors. China is the biggest creditor while the US is the biggest debtor (contrary to what existed pre 1950s). Governments in all countries always try and protect the interests of debtors and not creditors. Excess debt will probably lead to three things 1) inflation, 2) stagnation 3) default. Any currency devaluations is in effect an indirect way of default. The US currency has depreciated by 98% since 1971 after the fall of the Bretton Woods treaty and when the US de-linked to the Gold standard.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Neil Kingston

    Written in the crisp, clear, concise style that we would expect from somebody that also writes for The Economist. The book is at once informative and detailed, without being patronising, or requiring the reader to be overly knowledgeable on its subject matter in advance. it describes clearly the uses and value of money and how this has changed throughout the past few hundred years. Thus the first half of the book reads as an informative history. he second half of the book takes the wisdom from Written in the crisp, clear, concise style that we would expect from somebody that also writes for The Economist. The book is at once informative and detailed, without being patronising, or requiring the reader to be overly knowledgeable on its subject matter in advance. it describes clearly the uses and value of money and how this has changed throughout the past few hundred years. Thus the first half of the book reads as an informative history. he second half of the book takes the wisdom from history and applies it to our understanding of the financial debacle from 2007 onwards, before musing on what the future holds. Compelling reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Very readable, and recommended to anyone looking for an intelligent entry-level look at the subject matter. Sidenote: I'm always struck by how tenuous our global financial system seems to be - everything hinges on promises and beliefs and approximations. Change one digit in a computer system and it seems like it could all come apart, especially when we're talking about uncountable billions or trillions of dollars. I guess it's a good thing I didn't study economics.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    A very readable history of debt and money. This book made a lot of sense. He explained problems related to the amount of debt, the demographic implications on debt repayment and even how energy has impacted economic change. Overall, not very encouraging in that he believes we still are not through the current economic crises and have some tough times ahead. "a new system will be set by today's creditors in China and the Middle East"

  20. 5 out of 5

    !Tæmbuŝu

    KOBOBOOKS Reviewed at The Independent

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karol

    A really in-depth and good look at the history of debt and international monetary/banking systems. While his ultimate predictions for the future aren't revolutionary, they do provide some insight into the changing nature of the financial balance of power worldwide.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dele Cooke

    Brilliant. Brilliant. Did I mention, this book is brilliant. Outstandingly clear explanation of exactly how Merchant Bank speculators connive to create money out of nothing and saddle the rest of us with the debt of their failed gambling.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Lee kok hao

    Being new to the world of finance and economics, this book has been very revealing to me. I have come to understand the economic system it is today and the challenges ahead for the global economy. Recommended highly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Joseph Brown

    This is an insightful book. Many Americans may be wary of its argument, but it is a convincing one nonetheless. In addition, the author is lucid and provides a great deal of background information that may be necessary for the novice.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Petter Sund

    Full five stars! My expectations were high given that I am a frequent reader of the Buttonwood column and they were met by the analytical logic of Mr Coggan. These are interesting times, let's see how they play out.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Good stuff. He explains the differences between money as a store of value and money as an instrument of exchange very well, as he does the conflicting interests of savers and spenders, creditors and debtors. His conclusion is sobering: storm clouds ahead for the heavily indebted western nation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aaaschless

    Interesting discourse on the history of monetary systems and how we've gotten into our current mess. If you don't mind a little discussion of bond yields, you'll find it enlightening.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Larry Carter

    One of the best written to describe where the world is

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jason Cumbie

    Sobering account of recent economic history.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fill

    Excellent analysis of the current financial system. Cannot recommend enough.

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