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Other People's Money And How The Bankers Use It

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1438285269
ISBN-10: 1438285264
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Melvin Urofsky's introduction is first-rate, an essay that in brief compass captures the richness of the Progressive Era, the extraordinary career of Louis Brandeis, one of its central figures, and the impact of his writing upon the making of public policy." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Louis Brandeis published Other People's Money in 1914 to warn of the dangers of the "money trust" - the extensive control a few powerful banks exercised over the nation's money supply and American industry. This new edition places Brandeis's influential work in the context of Progressive-era reform and describes the key role that Brandeis and his book played in shaping early twentieth-century public policy. Photographs, a chronology, questions for consideration, a bibliography, and an index are also provided. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (February 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438285264
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438285269
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen R. Laniel on June 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a book that we all ought to be reading right now. Today, investment banks' primary mode of self-defense is to argue that capitalism needs them. Brandeis argues vigorously to the contrary, and it's not at all hard to carry his arguments from the nineteen-teens directly to now.

When we tip our hat to bankers, we typically honor their role as intermediaries: they direct money from depositors to valuable investment opportunities. Most depositors cannot be expected to evaluate the claims of businessmen, so bankers function as a vehicle for judging risk and establishing reputations. Hence the now-famous dialogue between J.P. Morgan and Samuel Untermyer:

'Untermyer: "Is not commercial credit based primarily upon money or property?"

Morgan: "No sir. The first thing is character."

Untermyer: "Before money or property?"

Morgan: "Before money or property or anything else. Money cannot buy it...because a man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom."'

You will presumably find few people today who view bankers as this sort of lantern-jaw-held-steady, coldly-responsible übermenschen.

On the other side of the risk-judging coin, bankers are supposed to finance the little guy. The entrepreneur just starting out who needs a few dollars at the right moment -- this man is capitalism's hero, and he's the one to whom bankers are supposed to direct money. As the entrepreneurs' hero, the banker is supposed to be our hero as well.

Think again, says Brandeis; bankers only give money to enterprises which have proven that they hold no risk whatsoever.
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I have been reading dozens of books within the past 2 years on investing and the stock market / US business history. I read this book after Galbraith's The Great Crash 1929 [really excellent!] and am currently reading Josephson's The Robber Barons [also excellent]. All three of these books are over 50 years old, and can seem dated in their prose style [not a problem for me - maybe since I am also over 50], but the material is very fresh and timely, if a bit depressing. The rigging of our financial system to fleece the many in favor of the few did not start in the dot.com era or with the junk bond kings.

I highly recommend the edition of Other People's Money edited by Urofsky because his introduction adds a great deal to this slim volume which began life as a series of even shorter magazine articles.

Overall, Distressingly familiar [even many of the names have not changed after 100 years]!
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That this book was written nearly 100 years ago makes it somewhat harder to read due to style and useage differences. However, this is a small caveat. What I found rather unnerving was how much of what Justice Brandeis said then about a different crisis, sounded like it could have been written about our current financial crisis.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the financial history of the country. And to anyone who enjoys an excercise in "the more things change...".
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A must read for anyone who questions the necessity of our fractional reserve fiat monetary system. More relevant today than when written in 1914 for one simple reason...the Federal Reserve was only just beginning then, and the bankers' global fiat monetary system was not yet unleashed upon the world. Yet even with their somewhat limited powers, as compared to today, the bankers of that day still had an amazingly large and adverse impact on our free market economic system. Brandeis's analysis of the monopolistic money trust is incredible and deserves 5 stars all by itself. He was truly a brilliant man, and an incorruptible champion of the people. That being said, what held me back to 4 stars is the progressive big government solutions he championed. The impact that this brilliant and incorruptible man had on the justification for big government as the check on the power of the money trust cannot be underestimated. Sadly, even though many see themselves capable of the greatness of a Brandeis, very few are. And greatness was what was needed to carry out the progressive big government solutions he championed. Given the current state of the bankers' monetary system, even after the mega-trillion dollar bailouts and "quantitative easing" funded by savers alive and savers not yet born, clearly what came after Brandeis was not greatness, but hubris --- and a highly compensated, morally bankrupt, deceptive, and corrupt hubris at that.

It's worth repeating that Brandeis's analysis, especially his analysis on wave after wave of purposeless business consolidation and the failures of banker management, was absolutely brilliant. Multiply what he wrote about the money trust and the monopolies they created back then by about a thousand, and you get a general idea of the trouble we face today in breaking the death grip the money trust and their political enablers have on our economic and political freedom.
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Louis D. Brandeis showcases his genius when analyzing how the money trust controlled many industries in the United States during the beginning of the 20th century. The interlocking directorates, the acquisition of related corporations, such as insurance companies, money trusts and investment banks, made commercial banks the most powerful institutions of the economy in the United States.
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