Money : The Unauthorized Biography

Money : The Unauthorized biography (2013) by Felix Martin is a decent book that looks at the history of money and then goes on to make various recommendations of dubious merit.

The book starts with a contrived dialogue about what money is. Martin then goes on to describe how money is more than just a medium of exchange and the history of the use of money. When the book is looking at the historic side of money from Ancient Greece to the founding of the bank of England the book is really interesting.

The book goes on to suggest that a major cause of the GFC was a misunderstanding of money. The myriad of other possible causes are not mentioned. Martin goes on to state that central banks should be returned to political control. He ignores the reasons why independent central banks have been set up. He seems to be assuming that we have philosopher kings who will wisely set interest rates and manage money. The experience of massive inflation in many countries all around the world doesn’t get much consideration and seriously undermines this idea.

The book concludes with another stilted dialogue where the author winds up the book. It’s pretty silly and rarely, if ever works as a technique. The history section of the book is good, the sections that venture into the twentieth century are recommendations for today are weak. But the book does make you think about money and suggests further reading.


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