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Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World without Redemption (Religion and Postmodernism Series) Hardcover – October 31, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0226791661 ISBN-10: 0226791661 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Religion and Postmodernism Series
  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (October 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226791661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226791661
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,306,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Long before the global credit system collapsed in 2007, Mark Taylor connected the dots between financial markets and the larger cultural forces that are rendering our world increasing complex. Taylor offers original insights into how our thinking about money has reshaped our world in ways that we are just coming to grips with. Readers with an interest in financial markets, art and culture, and indeed the future of American society, need to read this book immediately."—Michael Lewitt, editor, The HCM Market Letter

(Michael Lewitt, editor, The HCM Market Letter)

"Before the global credit system began its collapse in 2007, Mark Taylor had connected the dots between increasingly complex financial instruments and larger cultural forces. Anyone who wants to understand the disappearing foundation of our financial markets needs to read this book immediately."—Michael Lewitt, editor, The HCM Market Letter

(Michael Lewitt, editor, The HCM Market Letter)

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent book is After God, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By J. Marquez on October 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Having read-or having attempted to read-a few of Mark C. Taylor's recent books, I was delighted to discover that this one, "Confidence Games" was both entirely different and more of the same. Where his always lucidly written, often provocative and sometimes esoteric reviews of contemporary science, art, architecture and fashion have often left me grasping for a conclusion, this book, "Confidence Games" delivers-BIG.

If writing about the meaning of it all were a physical sport, I would hazard that this fleet-footed journey from the birth of money to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center is Taylor's marathon. Throughout, Taylor deftly summarizes insights from celebrated economic and cultural thinkers of the last several centuries without getting bogged down in the dense foliage of history, all the while reminding readers that what paths may look today like a straight line are almost always a zig zag.

What can you expect to get from this book? For many, it will be a pithy introduction to the incredibly complex financial world we have inherited. Others will likely nod their head as Taylor provides intriguing evidence for the parallels and connections between high finance and high art, God and Mammon, computers and contemporary culture.

Taylor's tenacity in pursuing "the meaning of it all" through the lens of money and markets provides us with the rare opportunity to see the big picture in sharp focus.

Disclosure: Over a decade ago, I was a student of Mr. Taylor's and continue to correspond with the author on current affairs.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Hefele on April 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What gives money its value? Are financial markets truly linked to the "real" world? Professor Mark Taylor, who has been praised as an "awe-inspiring theorist of everything," explores these and related issues in this interdisciplinary book. Taylor attempts to show the links between economics, financial markets, money, postmodernism, complexity theory, media, art and religion. It's quite an audacious task, and although one might debate if he was successful, Taylor takes the reader on a thrilling intellectual journey.

Taylor claims you can't study markets in isolation. Markets are embedded in society, so to fully understand them you must understand politics, culture, science, religion, sociology, and psychology. To do so, Taylor takes us on a tour of not only various academic fields, but also of places from Las Vegas to Times Square. Stops on this tour support his thesis, which is that money and markets are essentially artful confidence games.

For example, he notes that in the 1987 movie "Wall Street," the character Gordon Gekko says " transferred from one perception to another." Taylor then recounts how Wall Street fueled the public's perceptions of Internet stocks during the late 1990s stock bubble. Financial journalists, stock analysts, traders, advisors, and company officials all promoted fledgling Internet companies with skyrocketing stock prices. Ambitious teenagers talked up the price of small stocks in Internet bulletin boards and then sold them at a profit. The NASDAQ market opened a glitzy new TV studio for business reports in the media saturated & neon-lit Times Square.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am always skeptical of books that try to integrate trends in economics and finance with other disciplines because they tend to be written by experts from the other disciplines with only a facile understanding of economics and finance. The result is that they simply appropriate simplistically and selectively from the complex history of economic events to serve their argument. I was pleased, therefore, to discover right from the introduction of this book that Taylor has made some important and even profound observations on the human condition and its direction in the beginning of the 21st Century. Nonetheless, the book contains significant flaws that, upon reflection, seem unnecessary. Taylor's central argument does not depend on the errors in fact and interpretation that he makes throughout the body of the book.

Taylor is a professor of religion with a deep understanding of philosophy, art history and, naturally, religion. In the mid-1990s he formed an internet-based education company, and in that process developed some real-world experience of modern financial markets. He augments his experience with some thorough study of modern finance and economics, though as becomes clear in the later chapters of the book, finance remains his weakest subject.

Taylor observes that the rapid growth of interconnection throughout the world creates evolving networks that grow in complexity exponentially and unpredictably. In my view, this is the most defining characteristic of our age - not simply because increased complexity makes the world more difficult to understand, predict and navigate, but because the complexity frightens and confuses people, giving rise to fundamentalist movements throughout the world (and George W.
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