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Money of the Mind: How the 1980s Got That Way Paperback – May 1, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of Minding Mr. Market presents a formidable and funny history of financial credit and the American marketplace.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The 1980s were the troubling culmination of two trends in American finance--ever easier access to credit and the subsidizing of risk by government. As he explores these trends, Grant, a former Barron's staff writer and editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer , weaves in personal histories of influential financiers, financial markets, and institutions. He places a great deal of emphasis on psychological phenomena--the emotional waves of optimism and pessimism that roll credit markets. Although the stories are well told, there are often too many details and not enough perspective and analysis. Recommended for libraries wishing extensive collections in finance.
- Richard C. Schiming, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (May 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374524017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374524012
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #605,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Clark Bailey on February 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though James Grant is an excellent writer, his florid style lends itself better to the short articles he publishes in his newsletter than to this mammoth history of American credit booms and busts. Having said that, if you slug through the details and the (always entertaining) anecdotes, the book can teach you an immense amount of financial history that has been largely forgotten along the way. Its thesis, in short, is that money has increasingly become a government sponsored fiction that serves to defeat the natural risk mechanisms of a healthy credit market (recall that it was written at the time of the S&L bailout). This historical perspective seems essential if you want to understand the liquid world of serial bubbles we have been swimming in for the past ten years, but it is also dangerous, insofar as it may make you want to buy a pile of gold to put in your concrete bunker.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Grant writes a book now 15 years old that could be redone with a new chapter of the subprime follies. Hardly necessary as he goes over the last 100+ years of similar booms and busts of which subprime is the latest flavor. Knowing that America has recovered from all those busts actually provides some optimism versus the press's gloominess. When it seems darkest means its time to buy. Looking forward to a revised edition in a few years. Mr. Grant is an old time American not an anti-American, he's on record as Cleveland being his favorite President, hardly an anti-American.
This book is well worth the time providing some perspective on today's headlines.
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Format: Paperback
James Grant is the best writer of his generation on Wall Street today. Those looking for a romp or Wall Street Noir might be disappointed. But for a truly literate look at the world of debt, this book not only informs but entertains.
James Grant. Accept no substitutes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A few years ago I plucked a James Grant anthology out of a discount bin, and he has become a favorite author. He is erudite, and knowing chuckles are embedded in his lucid and detail-rich observations. He has a way of picking out just that telling, if sometimes obscure, detail that illustrates his point. This volume delivers on its title. In particular, I got an awful lot of history of the big NY banks, which became the behemoths of today, and the sharp-minded men who built them. We could use some more of those flinty types! Also, the way credit crept toward the poorer classes was well shown. Rather than have an author drily recite events past from 30,000 fett, I like to rub shoulders with the actual traders and bankers, and see their deals close up. Bravo!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book tries to cover financial history from 1870 to 1990, mostly from the perspective of banks and bankers. The book has a lot of anecdotes about interesting personalities and their reactions to the times. But it doesn't have a clear theme. It doesn't give a clear way to view the events of different times. There are no graphs and few numbers. Often, I didn't find the author's writing very clear; it seemed a jumble of facts.

The book does push the idea of credit as "money of the mind". That is, you don't need to take a loan - just the ability to get a loan when you ask, will change your behavior. It's an interesting idea, but one expressible in a few sentences and not helped by the book.

I don't recommend the book. It's not a pleasant read at all. A more famous book, Friedman and Schwartz's "A Monetary History of the United States" covers the same time period better, mostly from the Fed's perspective.
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Insightful as to American financial history PLUS a great, entertaining read. I disagree with a reviewer who said "the florid style is better suited to short articles." I found his current book of essays so-so. I found this book to be a real page turner and a lot of fun. Five stars for sure.
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