Book Review: Lords of Finance

 

I really enjoyed this book.  It taught me a lot regarding the four main central bankers and the problems that they faced between WWI and WWII.  Add in Lord Keynes and you have real party.

WWI Reparations were too large for the Germans to afford.  But worse, France and England relied on those repayments so that they could repay America on their loans.  That made the squabble over reparations far worse.

What is more fascinating is how WWI with reparations helped lead to WWII.  The resentment of the Germans to occupation, reparations, etc., led to a fighting spirit, combined with antisemitism because of hatred of bankers, and you have a lot of what drove the war.

You will learn a lot if you read this book.  It is long, but valuable.  I recommend the book highly, subject to my disagreements.

Quibbles

Crises do not come as a result of a gold standard but from overly levered banking where liabilities are short and assets are long.  The book showed minimal understanding of basic principles of banking.

As a result, don’t listen to Keynes as much as Fisher.  Fisher understood the real cause of the Depression: too much debt.  Once debt came back to normal levels in 1941, the economy normalized.  WWII did not get us out of the depression, rather, it prolonged the suffering for those at home.

Who would benefit from this book:

Those wanting a good historical understanding of the financial facts between the First and Second World Wars will get it here.  You will understand the players and their motivations.

If you want to, you can buy it here: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World.

Full disclosure: I asked the publisher for the book and he sent me a copy.

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