Greg Ip

Articles by The Economist’s U.S. Economics Editor

Archive for the ‘Book review’ Category

Book Review: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar

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Jan 20th 2011 | from the print edition
Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System. By Barry Eichengreen. Oxford University Press; 224 pages; $27.95. To be published in Britain by OUP next month; £14.99. Buy from,

[Greg Ip] THE dollar’s ascendance to the rank of world’s most important currency is often remembered as having been slow and gradual, mirroring the decline of sterling and Britain’s historic economic dominance. In fact, it was surprisingly swift. From a standing start in 1914, the dollar had overtaken sterling in international importance by 1925. The first world war played a part, but so did a lesser-known factor. America had surpassed Britain as the world’s largest economic power as early as 1870, but it had a stunted financial system: its banks could not open branches abroad, it had no central bank and panics were common. All these things discouraged international use of the dollar. Read the rest of this entry »


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January 20, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Book Review: The Financial Crisis

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[Greg Ip] THE latest book on the financial crisis has an odd title. You begin reading “All the Devils Are Here”, a line from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, expecting to encounter satanic bankers and corrupt government cronies preying on a defenceless public. In fact the people who emerge are infinitely more interesting: arrogant, desperate, even clueless—but, with a few exceptions, not devils. Read the rest of this entry »

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January 6, 2011 at 6:04 pm

The history of finance: The man who stamped the crash

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How Ferdinand Pecora won the blame game

Nov 11th 2010

The Hellhound of Wall Street: How Ferdinand Pecora’s Investigation of the Great Crash Forever Changed American Finance. By Michael Perino. Penguin Press; 352 pages; $27.95. Buy from

[Greg Ip] FINANCIAL crises have many causes and multiple actors. Sometimes, though, a single, electrifying interpretation emerges to capture the public imagination and dominate the political response. It has yet to happen with the current crisis. But for the Depression it struck dramatically over a mere ten days in early 1933, just before Franklin Roosevelt took office.

In the years after the 1929 crash, Wall Street, except for a few scoundrels, had largely escaped broad condemnation, portraying itself guilty of nothing more than the same irrational exuberance that had seized ordinary investors. In his entertaining new book, “The Hellhound of Wall Street”, Michael Perino recounts how Ferdinand Pecora, the tenacious and theatrical chief counsel to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, altered that impression. By the time Pecora was finished, the public saw Wall Street’s finest not as bystanders but as malicious purveyors of the misfortune that had affected millions.

The original article is linked here.

Written by gregip

November 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm

American economic intervention: Cavalry to the rescue (book review)

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The original story is linked here.

Mar 19th 2009
From The Economist print edition 

Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now
By Felix Rohatyn


Simon & Schuster; 259 pages; $26

Buy it at

IN THEIR collective mythology, Americans owe their wealth to an entrepreneurial spirit which government has usually only served to suppress. More so than any other society, Americans give private enterprise the benefit of the doubt. Even now, though outraged at the excesses that led to the current financial crisis, they are deeply cynical about the spending, bailouts and interventions that form the government’s response.

Yet the mythology is based on a selective interpretation of history. Felix Rohatyn demonstrates this by recounting ten episodes of significant and ultimately beneficial economic initiatives taken by past American governments. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

March 19, 2009 at 4:55 pm