HPB Humble Book Club Meeting March 2013

March 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm (Education, Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Lords of Finance Discussion Part Three (to read parts one and two, start here)

FinanceTitle: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Author: Liaquat Ahamed

Publisher: Penguin

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.

DSC02708We sat together with internet research and a handy dandy chart of all the key players in Ahamed’s book and brought up our favorite quotes as well as bits and pieces that piqued our interest.

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.

Permalink 1 Comment

HPB Humble Spring Book Club Picks!

December 14, 2012 at 6:42 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

HPB Humble Spring Book Club Picks!

January – A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (cooking/memoir)
February – March by Geraldine Brooke (fiction/literature)
March – Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed (business/economic history)
April – On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (fiction/literature)

Permalink Leave a Comment

Conspicuous Consumption by Thorstein Veblen – Lost in “Education”

June 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Veblen was a famous sociologist and economist in his day (roughly turn of the century, writing his most well-known essay in 1899).  He even had his own movement! (Institutional Economics Movement).  Whether someone agrees or disagrees with his theories and how the world should be, there is no doubt about the fact that his observations on how the world is, carries a stunning amount of accuracy.

Why did we never read this for school?  The relevancy is uncanny.  The way the times haven’t changed is disturbing.  I am definitely adding this to my required reading list for when I home school my child.

This book in reality is a 100 page essay or so, not long in the slightest and should take the reader a mere hour or two to digest and properly process (depending on the reader).  What I plan to have my child address when I require this to be read are the following questions (and I’d like to know what you guys think too, if you’ve read this):

How do Veblen’s ideas tie into Darwin’s evolutionary theories?

How do they interact with Marxism and Capitalism?

How are his ideas relevant today?

How are the leisure class and ownership related, according to Veblen?  What are the roots of conventional ownership and of marriage?  Consider contemporary phrases like “trophy wife.”  (How does this affect gender roles?)

Veblen sees “emulation” as a key feature of social life in “predatory societies.”  How do the patterns of emulation change as predatory societies change?

What fundamental criticism does Veblen make of standard economics?

I actually have quite a few more that I have borrowed from other sites, essay questions and discussions to be had are all noted in a journal I am keeping of projects and assignments to remember.  My point in posting the blog today, however, is this:

How did something so famous, so moving and so relevant – something Penguin even published in their Great Ideas series – get neglected in my own education?  Not just high school with basic history, social studies, and economics, but also in college when half my life was filled with economic theory and consumer behavior as I earned a Marketing degree?  I am realizing more and more the importance of not just reading about movements and theories, not just getting summaries from textbooks, but reading the original documents!  How can your education be complete without going back to what started the ideas in the first place?  How can you presume to know anything about anything if all your information comes from a summary in a textbook and you’ve never even heard of the essay that initiated the need for that summary?

Buy Here: http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=anakawhims-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=0143037595

Permalink 5 Comments