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Other People's Money and How the Bankers Use It (The Bedford Series in History and Culture) Paperback – March 15, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0312103149 ISBN-10: 031210314X Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's; First Edition edition (March 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031210314X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312103149
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,133,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Melvin I. Urofsky is professor of constitutional history at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He is coeditor, along with David W. Levy, of the multivolume Letters of Louis D. Brandeis and has also written biographies of Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, and Stephen S. Wise. His most recent works include A Conflict of Rights: The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action (1991) and Letting Go: Death, Dying, and the Law (1993).

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Customer Reviews

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This is a book that we all ought to be reading right now.
Stephen R. Laniel
This is a short book, that will teach the reader a lot about how the US Economy worked in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Daniel Grant
That this book was written nearly 100 years ago makes it somewhat harder to read due to style and useage differences.
L. Howard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful 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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Colbert on April 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. Howard on May 25, 2009
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. R. Knight on May 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
We have indeed entered another guilded age. When you have a license to gamble with other people's money, you can't lose.

Everyone should read this. It is a lucid description of how bankers use other people's money to get rich and it's as relevant today as it was the day it was written in 1914.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Francisco Mariategui on January 19, 2014
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian G. Ruschel on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I signed out Urofsky's 1995 edition from the library. Brandeis first published 10 articles in Harper's Weekly starting in late-1913 (which was published as a book in March 1914) which are available online for free (but I'm not allowed to post the link here). The chapters are: "Our Financial Oligarchy," "How the Combiners Combine," "Interlocking Directorates," "Serve One Master Only," "What Publicity Can Do," "Where the Banker Is Superfluous," "Big Men and Little Business," "A Curse of Bigness," "The Failure of Banker-Management," and "The Inefficiency of the Oligarchs."

Everyone learns in high school that Mr. J. P. Morgan was some towering presence of "good character" on Wall Street who intervened in the Panic of 1907, and whose company likewise stepped in during the 1929 Crash. But Brandeis shows that Mr. J. P. Morgan was basically just one big clever, greedy, slimeball who put on a good front. I bet nobody ever read in any history book that someone from J.P. Morgan was a director of American Bank Note Company (and Mr. Morgan one of its largest shareholders) which had "the exclusive privilege granted . . . by the New York Stock Exchange. A recent $60,000,000 issue of New York bonds was denied listing on the Exchange, because the city refused to submit to an exaction of $55,800 by the American Bank Note Company for engraving the bonds, when the New York Bank Note Company would do the work equally well for $44,500." Today, this would be called a controlled entity arrangement (a kickback arrangement for inflated pricing).

Also, back then, underwriting commissions were grossly too much and the banks made sure of this by placing friendly directors on the boards of companies who made sure commissions and other shanagans were not questioned.
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