- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Plume; Reissue edition (June 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452281806
- ISBN-13: 978-0452281806
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation Paperback – June 1, 2000
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"The longest bull market in history" is a term that gets used a lot these days. Since 1990, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen some 8,000 points, from around 2,700 in January 1990 to nearly 11,000 today--a boom by anyone's standards, including Edward Chancellor's. In Devil Take the Hindmost, Chancellor takes an entertaining, albeit sobering, look at the history of speculative manias and the mass delusion that surrounds them.
Beginning with the "tulipomania" that gripped Holland in the 1630s, Chancellor chronicles the formations and irrational euphoria that can inflate markets, from shares of South Sea stock in England in the 1720s to real estate in Japan in the late 1980s. He characterizes the speculative spirit as one that
loves freedom, detests cant, and abhors restrictions. From the tulip Colleges of the seventeenth century to the Internet investment clubs of the late twentieth century, speculation has established itself as the most demotic of economic activities. Although profoundly secular, speculation is not simply about greed. The essence of speculation remains a Utopian yearning for freedom and equality which counterbalances the drab rationalistic materialism of the modern economic system with its inevitable inequalities of wealth.But it's precisely such inevitability that always seems to win out, when "sharply rising prices followed by sudden panic without cause" bring speculative excess to an abrupt end.
Chancellor makes Devil Take the Hindmost especially relevant to today's U.S. investors by using his analysis of past speculative manias as a lens through which to view the current bull-market binge. No matter what his or her current investment outlook is--bull or bear--anyone with capital to invest would do well to spend a thoughtful weekend with this book. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In an era of rampant speculation and questionable investor habits, it is a pleasure to read an insightful, well-focused analysis of the events that have dominated social and economic history since at least the second century B.C.E. Starting with the speculative frenzy that gripped ancient Rome, British business journalist Chancellor goes on to provide keen insight into a wide variety of events, including the emergence of stock exchanges from the great fairs of northern Europe, the tulip mania that gripped the Dutch Republic in the 1630s, the insanity of the Mississippi and South Sea bubbles, the robber barons and their impact during the Gilded Age, the events leading to the Crash of 1929, the Japanese bubble economy of the 1980s, the Mexican crisis of 1994, the Asian market crisis of 1997, and the speculative manias that have accompanied the emergence of new technologies, including railroads, the telegraph, automobiles, radio, and the Internet. A well-rounded presentation that should be included in all public and academic libraries.ANorman B. Hutcherson, Beale Memorial Lib., Bakersfield, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
"We intended first to boost the stock and property markets. Supported by this safety net - rising markets - export-oriented industries were supposed to reshape themselves so they could adapt to a domestic-led economy. This step was then supposed to bring about an enormous growth of assets over every economic segment, followed by an increase of investment in plant and equipment. In the end, loosened monetary policy would boost real economic growth."
Sounds about right, doesn't it? There's just one catch....
The official being quoted is not a Chinese central banker circa 2011. He is a BOJ (Bank of Japan) official circa 1988.
And we know what came soon after for the Land of the Rising Sun - a toppling weight of speculative mania collapse, coupled with a truly spectacular misallocation of resources and the dead weight of "zombie banks," that hobbled Japan's economy for decades running.
The above quotation is one of the many cited in the excellent "Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation" by Edward Chancellor.
Having first read "Devil Take" many years ago, but never having reviewed it, we were inspired by recent events in China to pull it down from the bookshelf and reexamine the chapter on Japan.
The similarities - China now, Japan then - are notable.
Japan in the late 1980s, like China now, was a booming command and control economy. Officials at the all powerful Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) and Ministry of Finance, via the power of back channels, chose how to steer "Japan Inc." at will.
Further evoking China, Chancellor observed of the Japan bubble that "speculative mania is often a symptom of hubris," with great manias tending to occur "when the economic balance of power is shifting from one nation to another."
As Chancellor describes the late 1980s scene,
"America was on the run. While Japan had its trade surpluses, America faced growing trade deficits. The Reagan administration also produced enormous budget deficits that were only sustained by the willingness of Japanese investors to sink their country's trade surplus into U.S. Treasury bonds..."
As Yogi Berra might quip, re Japan vs. China, it's "Deja Vu All Over Again."
Or perhaps "Nobody invests there anymore, it's too overbought."
Those timely parallels aside, "Devil Take" is an engrossing book that traces the roots of financial speculation all the way back to Roman times. Thanks to Chancellor we learn the Latin meaning of the word speculator: It originally applied to sentries, whose job it was to "look out" (speculare) for trouble. Ancient Rome's financial players, on the other hand, were known as "quaestors," or seekers.
And the quaestors had much to seek. Chancellor reveals that two millennia ago there were joint stock companies with thousands of employees (slaves), public accounts, and even joint shareholder meetings with differing classes of company shares. One wonders if there could have been rough-hewn J.P. Morgans and Jesse Livermores of the Roman age.
Human nature was certainly the same. As Petronius Arbiter wrote of the Rebublic's final years,
"...filthy usury and the handling of money had caught the common people in a double whirlpool, and destroyed them... the madness spread through their limbs, and trouble bayed and hounded them down like some disease sown in the dumb flesh."
Thus beginning with ancient Rome and the origins of financial speculation, Chancellor then takes an erudite journey through the forgotten touchpoints of speculative mania history - from "stockjobbing" in the London boom of the 1690s, to John Law and the South-Sea Mississippi Scheme, to the "Fool's Gold" of the 1820s and the Railway Mania of 1845.
The book then covers speculation in the Gilded Age, and rounds out the 20th century with a look at the crash of `29 and the go-go 1980s (via cowboy capitalism and, last but not least, Japan).
Needless to say, pollyanna permabulls will not much like this book. But for those with a natural contrarian streak and an acquired taste for the "dark side" (i.e. going short), "Devil Take the Hindmost" is a delicious and informative romp.
The lessons of speculative mania are clearly a warning to unrestrained bulls, but they hold an important message for bears too: Manias can be quite dangerous, fatal even, for those who stand in their path without yielding.
The persistently recurring nature of the episodes Chancellor describes - and the ability of froth to reach incredible heights - is great testimony to the old J.M. Keynes warning: "The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent."
The author starts by introducing financial speculation in roman times and includes very early accounts of our first financial markets. He continues on to england at the end of the 17th century when the first market institutions were being formed and shares in joint stock companies were beginning to be traded. The first major bubble the reader is introduced to is the South Sea bubble where a story as well as financial engineering allowed for a massive bubble that Isaac Newton was caught up in, among others. The author then takes the reader to the em bond bubbles of the 19th century where the yields enticed the unkowing investors into putting money into broken economies and fictitious countries. We then move into the bubbles resulting from the rail investments in the middle of the 19th century where again a revolutionary infrastructure improvement is taken to its investment extreme of excessive fixed asset investment. The author continues into the 20th century with the roaring 20s and the subsequent great depression. He discusses the agency problems associated with stocks and the margin finance that propelled prices. The author continues on to the 80s and the LBO bubble associated with Milkin and the emergence of the high yield market to finance capital market activity in the absence of equity. He ends with the bubble economy of japan.
All the chapters are fun to read and interesting. The accounts are well researched and memorable and the reader cant help but see the similarities of the various historical episodes. This is not as comprehensive a study as Manias Panics and Crashes by Kindleberger, but it is more colorful and has good detail for the accounts it analyzes.
Scientific knowledge is remembered and passed down generations. Financial knowledge such as this has to be re-learned, the hard way,
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A reminder of madness taking over the populace AND the professionals