Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed

Lords of Finance

With penetrating insights for today, this vital history of the world economic collapse of the late 1920s offers unforgettable portraits of the four men whose personal and professional actions as heads of their respective central banks changed the course of the twentieth century It is commonly believed that the Great Depression that began in 1929 resulted from a confluence of events beyond any one person’s or government’s control. In fact, as ...

Details Lords of Finance

TitleLords of Finance
Release DateJan 22nd, 2009
PublisherPenguin Press
GenreHistory, Economics, Nonfiction, Finance, Business, Politics

Reviews Lords of Finance

  • Brina
    Like many former American school students, I studied the Great Depression from a social standpoint in depth across many American history courses. The classes focused on Black Tuesday and the country plunging into a depression, yet not relaying to students what a financial depression actually was. We studied President Roosevelt's programs for recovery as well as how the hard times effected average American people. Yet, lacking in the courses I too...
  • Will Byrnes
    Ahamed has written a fascinating account of how four central bankers were at the core of the economic madness that gripped the world after World War I and led to the second great war.The personalities are interesting, and the scent of the times wafts from the pages sufficient to sting the nostrils. This is a book written for a popular audience. No great knowledge of economics is required. But that sure would help. It is not only our elected offic...
  • Max
    Ahamed profiles four central bankers who defined monetary policy in the decade leading to the 1929 crash. Montagu Norman, the Governor of the Bank of England; Benjamin Strong of the New York Federal Reserve Bank; Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbank; and Émile Moreau of the Banque de France. While their personalities played a role, far more important was their adherence to the gold standard which straitjacketed their banks culminating in the Great ...
  • rmn
    Yawn.Screw waterboarding, let’s make the terrorists read this book cover to cover. Its length is only dwarfed by its lack of pace.In theory, this is a 500 page book about the four central bankers whose missteps led to the Great Depression and sinking of the global economy in the 1930s. However, maybe half of the book is about those central bankers (who are exceedingly boring) while the other half is about the minutiae of the international finan...
  • AC
    I returned to and finished this book on audible -- driving about the local streets -- to and from work -- and driving the kids hither & thither... what it lacks as a book (and my opinion about the issue of reparations has not been changed by L.A.'s arguments) -- that it is somewhat shallow qua analysis -- it gains as an audible -- in that it is very strong on narrative.The result is that the author often strives for effect, rather than truth -- t...
  • Greg Brown
    Even given his opening epigraph claiming that biography was the only way to understand history, Ahamed spends surprisingly little time describing each of the bankers as people. Sure, there are the vivid descriptions of their personalities and the expected personal details that helps to explain some of their behavior, but more important to the story is the unique situations each of them faced in their respective home countries: Moreau in France, S...
  • Mahlon
    Lords of Finance tracks the lives of the central bankers of the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany from 1900 to about 1950, and explains how their fiscal policy led to the Great Depression.While this important book is definitely worth reading, I can't really understand why it won a Pulitzer. It's a bit of a slog before the depression but the storytelling and quality of writing picks up once 1929 arrives. Recommended for anyone who likes books...
  • Pamela
    Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World is an intricate, in-depth look at the men who were in charge of the financial structures of the four biggest economies during the lead up to The Great Depression. Starting as early as 1919 and the Treaty of Versailles, Liaquat Ahamed gives us a detailed account of the triumphs and, most importantly, the mistakes these men made in the economic well being of their own countries and, consequently, of...
  • BookishStitcher
    I listened to the audiobook of this, and I think I need to stop listening to non-fiction books on audio because I never remember the certain facts that I love to commit to memory when I read historical non-fiction books. That said this book had a lot of information about the time and people involved. It was interesting to learn a lot more about economics.
  • Jason
    This was a bit of a work-related read. I changed jobs recently, and in my current position I am monitoring Congress' proposed regulatory reform of the banking industry. So, I thought I would add a little historical depth to my analysis. This is obviously a timely book with many frightening parallels that you will recognize from the headlines in your morning paper. However, as someone who continues to be drawn to the inter-war period, it also fill...
    Economics plays a decisive role in shaping and guiding our lives. For most of us, it is not an easy subject to understand. I am the holder of an Economics degree (cum laude) from my college days. Even so, there are still many things about economics and finance that either elude my grasp or I partially understand, for both disciplines are fluid and dynamic, ever evolving, ever changing. For that reason, I sought out this book, "Lords of Finance: T...
  • Katy
    I never thought that a book on economics would be so interesting. A quartet of biographies mixed into the economics and history of the time period. This gave me a much deeper insight into the Great Depression and the decades that surround it.
  • David
    An excellent book, deserving of the many rewards and positive reviews that it has received. I listened to this on a three-part Audible download, and I noticed the following small errors.-- Part two, chapter four, time 13:40: Mixed metaphor alert: “Moreau's star was about to turn.” I guess a star can actually rotate, but, in my mental dictionary, when you wish to metaphorically indicate an improvement in someone's fortune, their star rises. Fo...
  • Emily
    In the early 1930s, a reporter asked John Maynard Keynes whether anything like the Great Depression had ever happened before. His reply: "Yes, it was called the Dark Ages, and it lasted four hundred years." This book is about the four central bankers (of the U.S., Great Britain, France, and Germany) who presided over the economic collapse between the World Wars. Imagine something much worse than the banking crisis of 2007 taking place after a bru...
  • Tony
    Ahamed, Liaquat. LORDS OF FINANCE. (2009). ***. Subtitled “The Bankers Who Broke the World,” this was this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for History. It’s a massive book, extremely well researched, but...it’s boring. Maybe if you were an Econ major, this would be for you and really get you turned on. I’m a chemist and it didn’t do anything for me. Ahamed’s thesis is that the Great Depression and the economic meltdown was caused by ...
  • Courtney
    This book centers on four fallible men whose decisions, over more than a decade, contributed to and exacerbated the Great Depression."Lords of Finance" is no dry accounting. It's a dense, but thrilling, examination of the leaders of the world's most powerful central banks -- in the U.S., France, Germany and Britain -- and their efforts to sustain their countries through World War I, and to rebuild when the fighting stopped. These men's ideas were...
  • Frank Stein
    Ahamed's one of those lucky authors who spends a decade working on a book and then pop! it lands at Borders the second its subject supposedly becomes essential to global salvation. Suddenly every anchor with 5 spare minutes wants an interview.Ahamed wrote a book on central banking and the Great Depression and it came out just as the economic world fell to crap. Lucky him. It also received ridiculously positive reviews from everybody. To my mind i...
  • Aaron Million
    Economic history can be a somewhat dry subject to read about. Not so with Liaquat Ahamed's Pulitzer Prize-winning book examining the financial machinations of Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States in the first half of the 20th century. Ahamed tries to avoid excessively using technical economic jargon and convoluted theories that would go right over the non-financially literate, which includes myself. While of course the book does ...
  • Helga Cohen
    In this Pulitzer Prize winning book, Lords of Finance, we have a narrative about four bankers from the period between World War I and what lead to the Great Depression in 1929 and the aftermath through World War II. I found this to be a very interesting book about this topic. It was clearly written by a banker who understands central banking. We learn about the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank and the later formation of the IMF (Internationa...
  • Frederik Vandelannoote
    This book is clearly written by a banker and in favor of central banking. So he excludes some fundamental systemic elements out of his equation. However, he states correctly that the fundamental reason for the great depression was too much debt (war and reparation debt) - which makes the book very relevant to the upcoming crash. The writer gives vivid descriptions of the main characters which makes the book an enjoyable read. Personally, I liked ...
  • Michele Weiner
    This explanation of the perfect storm that lead to the Great Depression was oddly reassuring in light of the current economic climate. Ahamed describes the sorry state of economic and monetary theory, the straightjacket that was the gold standard, and the mediocrities who were in charge of the world's money during the period between the wars. Today, he says, we have Keynes, we are not tethered to gold, and the crises that we have experienced have...
  • Gwern
    I enjoyed this tremendously for revealing a new world to me where I thought I already knew the lay of the land. Throughout were revelations to me - just how ruinous WWI was, how reparations kept echoing and damaging Germany, how exactly the hyperinflation started (it was only partly the Versailles payments but more the social programs?), how America aggravated the issue (the Coolidge quote and the American tourists certainly never appeared in my ...
  • Constantine
    Don't know why I continue to read books on finance. Economics is too esoteric a discipline for me. Is all talk of economics ultimately sound and fury that signifies nothing.? Perhaps a lay reader should steer clear of the topic...or maybe it's just me and I'm just never going to get it. Having said that...this book was actually enjoyable...because it is more a history book than a theoretical presentation of economic theory (although I'm sure a re...
  • DoctorM
    "Lords of Finance" looks at the world of the Gold Standard--- one of the more arcane gnostic cults ---and its interwar acolytes and tells the story of the major central banks from the beginnings of the Great War through the onset of the Great Depression. The book focuses on four major bankers (Strong of the NY Fed, Montagu Norman of the Bank of England, Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbank,and Emil Moreau of the Banque de France) and their roles in ...
  • Asails F
    A must read!
  • Razvan Zamfirescu
    Schacht în Germania. Strong în SUA. Moreau în Franţa. Norman în Marea Britanie. Şi un al cincilea personaj care îi urmăreşte din umbră şi îi admonestează în public: Keynes.4 bancheri, 4 minţi luminate, 4 oameni care au avut în mână soarta omenirii timp de două decenii şi care au aruncat mapamondul într-o criză financiară de proporţii nemaintâlnite de şi până atunci.Liaquat Ahamed îşi începe volumul cu un motto care ...
  • Arminius
    Lords of Finance is a very informative book of finance by telling the story of the economic difficulties of Europe following World War I. The book centers on the three main victors (England, France, and America) and the main loser (Germany) of WWI. All of whom happened to be economic powerhouses before the war but only America would remain so afterwards.The harsh reparations placed on Germany during the Treaty of Versailles are detailed. They los...
  • Lisa Butterworth
    I learned a lot about what it was like to be a fancy rich banker in the early 20th century (basically you didn't really need to know much, so long as you had money and good connections). And I learned that basically no one knew what they were doing (I'm pretty sure no one knows now either, maybe a little more?). It seems like most of the world financial system is a bunch of privileged goofs taking shots in the dark. I feel like I got introduced t...
  • Ericka Clouther
    The topic is interesting and the writing is great, and if someone had cut this book in half it would have been 5 stars. As it is, it is nearly unreadable. The first time I tried I quit 50% of the way, but I own a copy so I tried again. The only way I made it through is by powering through the audiobook, meaning that when I zoned out I just rewound a bit a kept going. Every sentence definitely didn't get in my brain. On the other hand, if you love...