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Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order Hardcover – February 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610391268
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610391269
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


Financial Times

"Bold and confident ... Coggan covers the terrain with characteristic calmness and objectivity, avoids over-simplification, and laces his arguments with his trademark erudition ... The alphabet soup of acronyms, from SIVs to CDO Squareds, is blissfully lacking ... Finally, the book is free from the shrieking ideology that afflicts virtually all contemporary debates over money. Indeed, it offers a clear explanation of the fresh ideological divisions that have arisen over how to deal with the crisis ... the book should be taken very seriously."


Publishers Weekly, October 31, 2011

“Coggan traces ‘history’s tug of war between monetary shortage and excess’ in this engaging and timely book about the current financial crisis…. Thoughtful and thorough.”


Kirkus, November 15, 2011

“Comprehensive…. A helpful analysis for anyone who wants to know how the world got into the present financial mess, which issues need to be addressed and what the consequences might be.”


Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan

“This book stands way above anything written on the present economic crisis.”


Joshua Rauh, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

"A compelling sketch of how the indebtedness of much of the developed world will eventually unravel. Rapid credit creation has always been a double-edged sword, associated with economic growth and democratic expansion of opportunity, but also inevitably leading to asset bubbles. In Paper Promises, history serves as a guide for the new order."


Tim Harford, author of Adapt and The Undercover Economist

“This is a remarkable book from one of the most respected economics journalists on the planet. Every page brings a fresh insight or a new surprise. A delight.”



Financial Times
“[Coggan] covers terrain with characteristic calmness and objectivity, avoids over-simplification, and laces his arguments with his trademark erudition…. The book is free from the shrieking ideology that afflicts virtually all contemporary debates over money. Indeed, it offers a clear explanation of the fresh ideological divisions that have arisen over how to deal with the crisis… Paper Promises shows that both Occupy and the Tea Party have real reason to be angry… The book should be taken very seriously.”
 
New Statesman
"Writing with a lucidity that enables him to convey deep insights without a trace of jargon…. [Paper Promises is] the most illuminating account of the financial crisis to appear to date.”
 

Times of London
“A smart and witty analysis of the current economic storm, set in the context of the history of money.”
 
Irish Examiner
“Philip Coggan is a well-known financial journalist…. He now proves to be an exceptional banking and economic historian.”                       
 
Management Today (UK)
“Fascinating and authoritative, with the rigour and depth to satisfy an economist and the accessibility and pace to engage the layperson … If everyone read Coggan’s book we might just be a little more circumspect if and when the next burst of irrational exuberance overtakes the economy”
 
Independent (UK)
“In this context of mildly hysterical panic in financial circles, Philip Coggan's book adds a welcome note of calm analysis.”

Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
”A very good and sensible introduction to the history of the recent economic crisis…. Recommended.”
 
Motley Fool

“With the developed world facing fiscal and monetary crises, Coggan's new book, Paper Promises, is a veritable enigma machine for investors who wish to decipher today's headlines.”

800-CEO-READ

Paper Promises is not only a great book, it is a great accomplishment—a brilliant work of financial history, a clear examination of the present moment, and a journalistic masterpiece all wrapped into one.”



Bloomberg

“A crisply written look at how the debt crisis may overturn the global economic order. … Like a battlefield guide, Coggan takes us on a tour of paper promises, wending from John Law’s monetary experiments in France following the death of Louis XIV to Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing…. A valuable primer to anyone who still asks, as his father-in-law did, where all the money went during the meltdown of 2007 and ‘08.”


HarvardBusinessReview.org

“Philip Coggan's fascinating new book Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order … is a little hard to sum up: its cast of characters ranges from Dionysius of Syracuse to Ben Bernanke (both practioners of quantitative easing), and its author is both studiously nonideological and unwilling to pretend that we know more about the workings of the global economy than we do.”


About the Author

Philip Coggan is the Buttonwood columnist of the Economist. Previously, he worked for the Financial Times for twenty years, most recently as investment editor. Among his books are The Money Machine, a guide to the city of London that is still in print in the UK after twenty-five years, and The Economist Guide to Hedge Funds.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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It's a great book & will use as reference in future as well.
Nipul Chandiwala
Somewhat tough sledding here, some flawed analysis in this writer's opinion, but a good lay discussion of an absolutely critical issue affecting all of us.
Grandjete
Additionally the author has a very quick wit and makes every page a joy to read.
Tom Waterloo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Serge J. Van Steenkiste on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Philip Coggan explores with much clarity the different cycles in which money and debt have expanded. Mr. Coggan reminds his audience that money is concomitantly a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Two of these monetary roles - the means of exchange and store of value - lie at the heart of the ongoing struggle between creditors and debtors.

Starting in the United Kingdom in the late eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution resulted into accelerated economic growth, significant population increase, and more trade across the developed world and its colonies. This burst of activity required more official money that remained based on precious metals until WWI. The United Kingdom led the way once again with the adoption of the gold standard among developed economies in the first half of the nineteenth century. The absence of universal suffrage allowed the upper or creditor classes to whom central bankers usually belonged, to favor a policy of sound currency backed by gold, regardless of the pain inflicted to the lower social classes. WWI resulted into the suspension of the gold standard and the massive increase in paper money.

Power shifted to debtors during the inter-war period due to the widespread adoption of democracy and the impossibility to restore the gold standard because of the burden of international debts, especially war reparations. During this period, the global money supply expanded, resulting in more paper money relative to gold. The crisis of 1931 resulted into a deflationary trap and the shift toward the modern welfare state to try to mitigate the effects of persistent mass unemployment in the 1930s.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Erez Davidi on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As our current economic system is melting slowly away, along with a decade-long rise of the price of gold, naturally more and more books are appearing which try to examine our past economic systems and the role gold used to have in them.

Paper Promises is a very well written and unbiased economic history covering different monetary systems from the classic gold standard through Bretton Woods to our current fiat system. In some sense, this book doesn't offer any new information to people who follow closely the present economic crisis and are interested in economic history. And I suppose some people, including myself, will find plenty of places to disagree with the author, and some minor mistakes such as stating that the Fed has bought 600 trillion US dollars of government bonds as part of QE2 (P. 244, British Edition). Yet, this book still has value in it. It seems that Coggan isn't captivated by a particular ideology regarding gold and was able to write a balanced analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the various gold standards.

However, this book has more to offer than just economic history. Perhaps the better part of the book is the part concerning the ongoing crisis that Coggan reviews, in the context of the theme of his book, debt. Coggan explains the economic crisis and the coming challenges we face with great clarity, which helps to tie all the pieces together.

Ultimately, the most unsatisfying aspect of the book is that it doesn't offer any conclusive solutions of how to get ourselves out of the mess were in.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Grandjete on March 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is rated five stars not because it is perfect. It is not. There are instances of flawed analysis, and a couple instances of embarrassing proof-reading accidents.

However, the author's analysis of how debt everywhere - national governments, state governments, local governments, and personal- has grown like cancer for forty years, and now will control our financial future and that of our children and grandchildren, is an absolute must-read for every responsible adult. The list of chapter headings gives a flavor of what is to come: "Paper Promises"; "Riding the Gravy Train"; "Blowing Bubbles"; "The Ponzi Scheme Needed a New Set of Suckers", etc.

Philip Coggan is former investment editor of the "Financial Times", and long-time columnist for the "Economist". He therefore has a nose and instinct for digging at the facts to get to the story, and the writing skill and experience to report the story in ways that the lay reader can follow. This is just as well. The topic of debt and finance is, for most of us, rather dry and removed from what we think about on a daily basis. However, decisions made by those before us to accumulate debt, and decisions we are making now, bind us and our children to a constrained future. Mr. Coggan's economics is, however, not as strong as his reporter skills.

Mr. Coggan writes, "If there is a fundamental theme to this book, is is that there are no easy answers in economics". We certainly agree with this.

We have a huge, self-inflicted problem: In the last forty years, the entire world has been more successful at creating claims on wealth than wealth itself. In other words, we have lived beyond our means. We have amassed huge debts, which cannot ever be repaid in real terms.
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