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Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World Book 48) by [Charles W. Calomiris, Stephen H. Haber]
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Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World Book 48) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 90 ratings
Part of: The Princeton Economic History of the Western World (47 Books)

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Editorial Reviews


"One of Financial Times ( Best Economics Books of 2014, chosen by Martin Wolf"

"One reason why economists did not see the financial crisis coming is that the models most macro and financial economists deal in are free of politics. Fragile by Design offers a much-needed supplement."---Martin Sandbu, Financial Times

"This is a beautifully-written book. Calomiris and Haber are always thoughtful, always clear, and they have an eye for the telling metaphor and the thought provoking fact. More importantly, the book reflects the authors' mastery of a vast amount of material on the history of banking. . . . Fragile by Design is a must-read for economic historians, a book to be put on the shelf with . . . similar classics."---Hugh Rockoff, EH.Net

"Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber's Fragile by Design is a magnificent study of the economics and politics of banking."---Mervyn King, Bloomberg Businessweek

"One cannot help but admire Calomiris and Haber's ambition to write one of the most accessible and sophisticated books on the linkage between political institutions and national financial systems."---Caner Bakir, Public Administration

"One of The Times Higher Education Supplement’s Books of the Year 2014, selected by Sir Howard Davies"

"Readable, erudite, myth-busting. . . . The authors' clear and well-documented discussion of what happened should dissuade anyone of the myth that the economic crisis of 2007-09 was caused by the profit-and-loss system of unfettered capitalism."---Gene Epstein, Barron's

"Hands down the best single book for understanding the historical journey that laid the groundwork for the financial crisis."---Jeffrey Lacker, Bloomberg Businessweek

"Brilliant. . . . [I]f you are looking for a rich history of banking over the last couple of centuries and the role played by politics in that evolution, there is no better study. It deserves to become a classic."---Liaquat Ahamed, New York Times Book Review

"Calomiris and Haber offer a thoughtful counter-argument to the current received wisdom."---Howard Davies, Times Higher Education

"Capital markets, regulatory institutions and the behaviour of people employed in the financial sector are neither predetermined nor universal, but rather the product of culture, history, and the political system. That is a perspective developed effectively by Profs Calomiris and Haber."---John Kay, Financial Times

"Fragile by Design is a call to action for people to seize the moment to resist crony capitalism."---Jay Weiser, Weekly Standard

"Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber make the compelling argument that a country's propensity for frequent banking crises is linked to the ability of populist elements to hold the banking sector to ransom."---Louise Bennetts, American Banker

"Will a next crisis be averted? Perhaps, if our regulators read this book."---Vicky Pryce, The Independent

"Winner of the 2015 PROSE Award in Business, Finance & Management, Association of American Publishers"

"[T]he methodology is universally applicable and obviously raises questions about the nature of these arrangements in a country like France. . . . [T]his work allows us to understand better why . . . the alleged remedies and reforms, from 'unconventional measures' major central banks to new regulatory structures, no way affect the old paradigms and therefore merely prepare the next crises."---Phillipe Ries, Mediapart

"Longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2014"

"One of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Best Books of 2014, chosen by Mervyn King and Jeffrey M. Lacker"

"[I]f you want a methodology for drawing conclusions about the genesis of crises and an explanation for the differing experiences among countries, Fragile by the Design is the winner hands-down."---Vern McKinley, Cato Journal

"Business economists Calomiris and Haber explain how imperfectly politics and commercial banks intersect, and the consequences for the rest of us. . . . This learned inquiry deserves ample attention from scholars, regulators, and bankers themselves." ― Publishers Weekly

"If you have time to read only one book about the causes of the 2008 financial collapse, read this one. . . . Charles W. Calomiris and Stephen H. Haber . . . have written an exhaustively researched and readable volume. . . . With great literary sensibility uncommon to economists, Calomiris and Haber have performed a public service by painstakingly identifying these root causes."---Diana Furchtgott-Roth, National Review

"Exploring the ways in which politics inevitably intrude into banking regulation, Calomiris and Haber clearly describe events leading to the recent financial crisis of 2007-2009. . . . This is an excellent work for understanding the role of credit and how the financial sector evolved in different settings." ― Choice

"Fragile by Design . . . is a great book. . . . [E]normously illuminating, and contains the most powerful and concise account of the causes of the 2008 crisis that I have seen."---Eric Posner,

"By any yardstick, Fragile by Design is a remarkable achievement and an important contribution to our understanding of the roots of the banking crises."---Grant Bishop &amp; Anita Anand, Banking &amp; Finance Law Review

"This is a great history of political interference in bank regulation."---James Ferguson, Money Week --This text refers to the paperback edition.


"A seminal political economy analysis of why banking varies so much across countries, with such profound consequences for economic development and social welfare. Not just fascinating and original, but also right."―James Robinson, author of Why Nations Fail

"A monumental intellectual and scholarly achievement that will shape thinking on finance and politics for decades to come. A book for the ages, whose insights are delivered in a lively, punchy, and nontechnical narrative."―Ross Levine, University of California, Berkeley

"A major contribution to our understanding of banking, showing why nations need banks, why banks need the state, and how the quality of banking depends on how the 'Game of Bank Bargains' is played between politicians, bankers, and a penumbra of key protagonists."―Charles Goodhart, London School of Economics and Political Science

"What explains the dramatic variation across countries in the extent, structure, regulation, and fragility of banking? Calomiris and Haber provide a tour de force resolution of the question. Their answer: politics. Fragile by Design's synthesis is shockingly original and convincing."―Darrell Duffie, Stanford University

"A remarkably detailed account of the sources of banking and financial failure under different institutional rules. A masterful achievement and a must-read for banking scholars, analysts, and regulators."―Allan Meltzer, author of A History of the Federal Reserve

"Fragile by Design bristles with insights about how conflicting private interests, intermediated through political institutions, have sometimes produced banking and social insurance arrangements that make financial crises much more likely than they should be."―Thomas Sargent, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"Why do America's banks go bust so often? Fragile by Design draws back the veil that hides the murky world where politics and big money meet, and exposes the surprising truth―that the banks were built to fail. Read, learn, and keep your cash close at hand!"―Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules―for Now

"Fragile by Design explains why the U.S. banking crisis of 2007–2009 is no aberration, but only the latest episode of a populist bargain gone awry. This is a powerful entry in the debate on how to fix the postcrisis world."―Raghuram Rajan, author of Fault Lines --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00GMSUUVS
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Princeton University Press; Illustrated edition (February 23, 2014)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 23, 2014
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2741 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 576 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 90 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
90 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 23, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2014
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Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2015
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Top reviews from other countries

Ulrik Jungersen Walther
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 9, 2017
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Sean Bellamy McNulty
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for financial professionals
Reviewed in Canada on April 6, 2014
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Guilherme Neves
5.0 out of 5 stars una analisis de la banca
Reviewed in Spain on February 5, 2016
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars much higher than what I expected
Reviewed in Canada on February 22, 2016
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4.0 out of 5 stars A clear and very readable analysis!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 21, 2014
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