Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review: Popes and Bankers

Popes and Bankers: A cultural History of Credit & Debt, From Aristotle to AIG by Jack Cashill, sounds like the most mind-numbingly boring title for a book that you ever heard of and you would presume that the content would fit the title and for a great number of chapters it does as you read it, for me anyway.

Having said that what was mind numbing for 25 chapters suddenly comes into its own in chapter 26 when Cashill writes about the "Greed Decade" of the 1980s (my vintage) and what I previously thought was boring and mind-numbing takes on a more poignant meaning and I am then riveted.

You know where Cashill is taking you - on a historical financial journey - when you discover in chapter two that he begins quoting passages from the bible that will have relevance to the present day financial crises but to me the historical part only piques my interest in retrospect -I will have to read the previous 25 chapters again.

The Jewish factor in the history of banking, finance and associated subjects is sometimes hard to read. It doesn't place them in a good historical or indeed present day context. I came off thinking, were/are they really that bad or were and are they just more entrepreneurial than every other culture or race and those outside the "Jewish Circle" and "outsiders" are jealous because they were not as hard working or intelligent enough to do the same.

The chapter that held the most interest for me is Chapter 27, "The Age of Innocence". In it Cashill describes the genesis of the present day financial collapse and President Bill Clinton's central hand in it - something I was already aware of and have been for years.

Clinton forced banks and then Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend money to individuals (Americas race based form of lending was extended even further than it was in the 1970s) who were poor credit risks to buy houses in the 1990s and Alan Greenspan (another evil Jew?) provided the cheap interest rates through the Federal Reserve that led to the frenzy of house buying that then led to the bubble and you know the rest.

You don't read a lot about the Democrats, Bill Clinton and their historical central role in the 2008 financial collapse but Cashill gives you the facts and lets the reader join the dots.

Popes and Bankers is a book of its time and gives the history that puts today's financial troubles - and every other crash before it - in context and with Cashill's perspective on how that fits.

If you can get past the mundane first part of the book and get to the meat at the end the first part is going to make a lot more sense and you will want to read it again.


I received this book gratis from Stephanie Marshall at MNS Publicity and wish to thank her and her company.


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Popes and Bankers: A Cultural History of Credit and Debt,  from Aristotle to AIG

Popes and Bankers: A Cultural History of Credit and Debt, from Aristotle to AIG by Jack Cashill
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