The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy

The End of Alchemy Money Banking and the Future of the Global Economy Something is wrong with our banking system We all sense that but Mervyn King knows it firsthand his ten years at the helm of the Bank of England including at the height of the financial crisis reve

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Something is wrong with our banking system We all sense that, but Mervyn King knows it firsthand his ten years at the helm of the Bank of England, including at the height of the financial crisis, revealed profound truths about the mechanisms of our capitalist society In The End of Alchemy he offers us an essential work about the history and future of money and banking,Something is wrong with our banking system We all sense that, but Mervyn King knows it firsthand his ten years at the helm of the Bank of England, including at the height of the financial crisis, revealed profound truths about the mechanisms of our capitalist society In The End of Alchemy he offers us an essential work about the history and future of money and banking, the keys to modern finance.The Industrial Revolution built the foundation of our modern capitalist age Yet the flowering of technological innovations during that dynamic period relied on the widespread adoption of two much older ideas the creation of paper money and the invention of banks that issued credit We take these systems for granted today, yet at their core both ideas were revolutionary and almost magical Common paper became as precious as gold, and risky long term loans were transformed into safe short term bank deposits As King argues, this is financial alchemy the creation of extraordinary financial powers that defy reality and common sense Faith in these powers has led to huge benefits the liquidity they create has fueled economic growth for two centuries now However, they have also produced an unending string of economic disasters, from hyperinflations to banking collapses to the recent global recession and current stagnation.How do we reconcile the potent strengths of these ideas with their inherent weaknesses King draws on his unique experience to present fresh interpretations of these economic forces and to point the way forward for the global economy His bold solutions cut through current overstuffed and needlessly complex legislation to provide a clear path to durable prosperity and the end of overreliance on the alchemy of our financial ancestors.

One thought on “The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy”

  1. Stop what you’re doing, drop everything, buy and read this book. Twice. I’ll start my second reading as soon as I’m done writing down my thoughts.I’d gladly swap all ten books I’ve read about the crisis (“mine” at ten) for this modest and mischievous masterpiece.Mervyn King does not go looking for villains or victims here. You will not find the words “greed” or “fear” in this text, nor do you get any history recounted, unless it is to illustrate a point. What you get is an [...]

  2. ‘For centuries alchemy has been the basis of our system of money and banking. Governments pretended that paper money could be turned into gold even when there was more of the former than the latter. Banks pretended that short term riskless deposits could be used to finance long term risky investments. In both, cases the alchemy is the apparent transformation of risk into safety. For a society to base its financial system on alchemy is a poor advertisement for its rationality. The key to ending [...]

  3. Somebody wise once advised me to read books in clusters that were somewhat but not completely related. Given the proliferation of books about the financial shocks of 2007-2008 and following years, that seemed like good advice and that is why I have read this in conjunction with Stiglitz's book on the Euro. Both are excellent and well written books that do a wonderful of communicating some complex issues and convoluted fact patterns.King is the former head of the Bank of England and addresses the [...]

  4. Mervyn King has the experience to back up his theories regarding the cause for the global recession and potential solutions for the future success in global banking. Being the former governor for the Bank of England, he has a view that is lacking from most books on banking. Most books focus on the issue in Wall Street only, but the issue and impact is worldwide. He discusses the problems in the European Union with a common currency and other members’ debt. Sounds as though much of their issue [...]

  5. King could not have had better view of the banking sector for the past several decades and if you haven't read an analysis of the crisis, this would be the one to read. It's not just that though. He also covers the basics of money, banking, and central banking. The premise is that though we seem to know capitalism well, we don't quite understand money and banking. In fact, the field of economics has stopped talking about it altogether. King wades in as a clear thinking guide. It will likely take [...]

  6. I’ve been a frequent reader of books about our current financial predicament, which entered into high gear in 2007/8. Prof. Michael Hudson’s “Killing the Host” was and still is the best of the lot, but the books by James Rickards and Varoufakis’ “And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future” were also particularly remarkable. There were a number of others (and more in the reading list, even if right now my priority is travelling to the moon and [...]

  7. The author has produced a very pessimistic view of the current state of economy before and after the great credit crunch of 2008. If the then Governor of Bank of England has categorised the western economy as inherently at fault than more doom and gloom is certainly on its way. The Far Rights slowly taking over power in the western world should start addressing these issue instead of blaming the Immigrants for somehow creating the current glum before their public really start to lynch them. The [...]

  8. A full library has been created out of the 08/09 global financial crisis. The books might differ in content and in prose but they all have a unifying theme. Blame game. There are those that blame Wall Street's greed and the folly of human nature, some blame regulators for being too lax and the tragedy of repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, others just blame the effects of too much debt This book is not numbered among them.If you want to understand the financial crisis and the general underpinnings [...]

  9. The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy is a book by former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, who was a principle participant in the global effort to combat the Great Recession of 2008. King has since retired from his position, and has written his first (and hopefully not last) book on the crisis. This isn't, however, one of the many timeline books of the recession, or about placing blame, or even absolving himself of responsibility. King instead focuses on n [...]

  10. Very thoughtful and clear-sighted analysis of the late-2000 financial crisis and Great Recession. Although King was a key figure at the time, this is not a blow-by-blow account of the events nor a search for immediate blame. King is looking for the deeper causes of what happened and how to prevent such crises in the future. He also presents one of the most lucid accounts of the underlying structural problems that led to the crisis and subsequent recession that I have read. I'm not enough of an e [...]

  11. This is now my fifth book in the series on macroeconomics. I do recommend it although I initially was not so sure. King was head of the UK central bank from 2003-2013, so he certainly has experience and deep knowledge of what can and did happen with banking and the world economy. I liked the book ultimately because of the several good insights I gained and because it challenged, to some degree, the predominant thinking that earlier books in the series had tended to agree on. King's writing is fl [...]

  12. Desde la crisis financiera de 2007-2009 y la gran recesión que plago al mundo se ha escrito mucho sobre sus causas, soluciones y sobre la naturaleza de las economías de mercado y del sistema financiero. Se han producido grandes debates sobre la necesidad de hacer reformas en la conducción macroeconómica de los países y se han tomado medidas de política pública alrededor del mundo con el propósito de remediar tales problemas. Muchas de esas políticas han fracasado como el caso de Europa, [...]

  13. The former Bank of England Governor gives a suprisingly readable account of his understanding of the serious underlying faults in modern finance. While there exists a plethora of books on finance since the crash of 2008, this one stands out for 2 reasons. First, it's by a former Central Bank chief, Second, Lord King has some interesting recommendations.King suggests that Central Banks, rather than being Lender of Last Resort, should instead be Pawn Broker for All Seasons, and in the last chapter [...]

  14. An incredible book on the role of central banks, how money and our economies work, and the intrinsic nature of boom/busts in our current system. While I don't agree with everything, this book provides a real foundation for understanding our economic reality and what needs to be done to shift to a more stable money system that will support the real economy and real people. I believe it's important for us to understand our economic world so that we can powerfully stand up for our own best interest [...]

  15. The year 2008 led to the worst financial crisis we have ever had at least since 1929. Until now, both central banks and governments struggle to recover. Money has been used unwisely, because politicians were unwilling to take unpopular decisions. Like doping, trying to hide overconsumption, increasing private and government debt.A case study is the European Monetary Union for which it was not longer required that inflation would converge or budget deficits would belong to the past. Germany force [...]

  16. "Brimming with new ideas.ant" reads the cover of the paperback I bought. There's two main ideas: one being the central banks functioning as a 'pawner for all seasons' as opposed to a 'lender of last resort', second is more cooperation between central banks and simplifying the systems (end alchemy) to structure the economy better and thus preventing large crises like the one in 2008. (The latter being discussed very elaborately, sometimes repeating certain systems and events two or three times th [...]

  17. As ex-Governor of the Bank of England during the 2008-09 world recession, Sir Mervyn King is better placed than anyone to give an inside account of the financial storm that nearly brought the western world to its knees. Thankfully, he is happy to let others do that and has no intention of writing a special plea to the Bar of History for a sympathetic hearing. Instead, The End of Alchemy is an ambitious attempt to bring the theoretical world of banking to the educated man on the street without al [...]

  18. QUOTESThe crisis was a failure of a system, and the ideas that underpinned it, not of individual policy-makers or bankers, incompetent and greedy though some of them undoubtedly were.By alchemy I mean the belief that all paper money can be turned into an intrinsically valuable commodity, such as gold, on demand and that money kept in banks can be taken out whenever depositors ask for it. The truth is that money, in all forms, depends on trust in its issuer.Four concepts are used extensively in t [...]

  19. The End of Alchemy is the most comprehensive book on financial crises that has been published since the Great Recession. Mervyn King headed up the Bank of England during the 2008 Financial Crisis. However, unlike Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke, he doesn't set out to defend his actions during the crisis or make excuses for questionable decisions. Instead, King criticizes the system that allowed the crisis to happen, allowed the crises before it, and will inevitably create future crises if it i [...]

  20. A disappointing book mainly because who it comes from. If a person with all the policy power possible, who could so clearly see whatever was wrong in the policymaking and still could do nothing, he should have written on practical issues that confound the decision-making and ways to get around them rather than offer more theories and theoretical solutions.Theory, as is invariably the case with great economists, is good even if presented in the laymen language garb. Other academicians may find ho [...]

  21. There are a number of problems with Mervyn King's book. The first is the rote recitation of Adam Smith's origins of money in barter that are a fantasy that economists cling to despite extensive evidence pointing to money as credit, both social and otherwise as the start of a monetary system. (see Debt: the First 5000 years for a comprehensive look) While he does comment on the endemic fraud around the crisis, he does not address the role it played in and around the crisis. (Though I am unfamilia [...]

  22. Caveat: I only read the first 180 pages. While the reviews indicate that this book is one of the best on the global economic crisis and earlier financial disasters, the challenges of the global banking system, and the solutions we need to consider, I still hadn't learned what I was expecting (something new) by the end of chapter 3. The movie, The Big Short, was far more engaging than these chapters in understanding the financial basics. Chapter 5 is where it got interesting (the role of central [...]

  23. King does his best to render economics as something a lot better than the "dismal science". By illuminating the alchemy practiced by the banking sector, he comes close to succeeding. Here are two kinds of alchemy, one of which actually seems to work, while the other is purely a fraud. The late medieval alchemists sought to create gold out of base metal; clearly, they were pikers. But it's true that the banks do in fact create money -- not out of base metal but in fact out of nothing. However, in [...]

  24. Mervyn King gives an articulately argued and detailed explanation of the orthodox banking religion ie that banks are socially useful and contribute significantly to human prosperity, rather than being a rent-seeking drag on true human endeavour. It is interesting that he acknowledges several times that economics has little predictive power and yet still quotes the wisdom of economists past to prescribe how the financial system should be treated.If you have a positive view of banks and want that [...]

  25. Sir Mervyn brings several principles forward for how to reform the fractional reserve banking system. Along the way he lays out a number of issues with the system as it stands and points out how it has changed. He also points to certain causes, although in my opinion I feel he also skirts some blame that would be obvious to one who was more honest with himself, and were willing to point blame to colleagues and ideologiese primary concept of reform is the notion of changing the role of the centra [...]

  26. All right, I'll confess. I got sucked in by the cover blurbs. Greenspan. Volcker. Kissinger. Summers. All saying nice things about King and his book. I couldn't contain myself. About a third of the way into this book, I was wishing I had. The End of Alchemy starts off a bit slow. Also, it's written in a rather easy style, as if written especially for slow readers. The first third deals with some foundation points in King's interpretation of financial crises. Banks have been trying to consistentl [...]

  27. A good plain language explanation of money and banking - particularly the root causes of the global financial crisis and the challenges facing the Eurozone. The one quibble I have is the short shrift King gives to digital currency in particularly whose significance I don't think he has fully grasped - case in point he cites and one issues with bitcoin is that it has no intrinsic valuebut of course the same is true of fiatd even gold

  28. A fantastic treatise on the financial crisis and the disequilibrium that led to it and has actually worsened since with steps towards correcting it. It led to a revision of many of my beliefs when it came to macroeconomics. It looks at the true causes and not the symptoms for the anemic growth that has persisted since 2009 and why it could lead to another crisis unless steps are taken towards rebalancing the global economy.

  29. Yes, it absolutely is good enough for five stars. King explains macroeconomics in a way that anyone can follow the concepts without getting confused or loss. He argues the causes of the Global Financial Crisis lie beyond roots of the past 30 years -- that the foundation of economics has challenges to resolve.

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