Lords of Finance Discussion Part Three (to read parts one and two, start here)
Title: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World
Author: Liaquat Ahamed
Genre: Economics/ History
Length: 508 pages
When all was said and done, Lords of Finance was a pleasant (and very meaty) read. It was definitely nice wrapping up the completion of the book with a discussion at Half Price Books among customers turned friends. The discussion definitely went down well with some home made German Chocolate Pie brought by a member.
I was especially intrigued by the dialogue between Senator Mayfield and Senator Brookhart on pages 316-317 regarding Texas wanting to pass a bill prohibiting gambling via the stock market. Apparently, there were a lot of hearings that went on “in an attempt to refine the distinction between investing and gambling.” Upon reading this I immediately wanted to hash out the distinction and research the laws with others. What a fascinating paper this would make for a young economics student to be assigned in order to both understand the inner workings of the stock market and to establish their own world view in terms of monetary ethics and morals. Honestly, have you ever wondered… What is the line between gambling and investing? Off hand, I’m not sure I have a steadfast answer to give. Do you?
At the meeting we talked about businesses that are publicly traded verses those that are not. We touched on Roosevelt and Hoover and what they had to deal with as presidents in comparison to what Obama is dealing with today, and over all what a relevant piece of history this book is. One of my favorite quotes came very late in the book on pages 438-439:
When, in August 1932, a reporter for the Saturday Evening Post asked John Maynard Keynes if there had ever been anything like this before, he replied, “Yes. It was called the Dark Ages, and it lasted four hundred years.”
That line from Keynes about the Great Depression had me smitten with him. When I got to the store, I immediately headed toward the economics section and picked out a book he wrote called The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. He has other titles that I also plan to purchase one day.
It took us awhile to decide who would actually be purchasing the only title by Keynes in the store. Everyone, I think, likes to read titles mentioned in books they read and Ahamed mentioned Keynes work quite a bit. We are in agreement that the books (both Keynes’ and Ahamed’s) should be used as require reading for economics classes, both high school and college. As someone who actively participates in continuing education on a self-study basis, I am interested to see how the end of this book leads into World War II. So many financial agreements were made and unmade, I want to know in detail how things were handled during the war on a financial level. None of us in the group were financial historian buffs and were unable to answer our own questions, but discovering the answers in the future should be exciting.
As for our reading future as a group, we tossed around ideas for the next set of books. This isn’t quite set in stone just yet, but it’s looking like the HPB Humble Book Club reading schedule will look like this:
April: On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan (we will probably also discuss Atonement)
May: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
June: The Princess Bride – William Goldman (the online Half Price Books book club will also be discussing this book in June)
July: John Adams – David McCullough
August: The Color Purple – Alice Walker
Any changes to this tentative reading schedule will be made at the April meeting.