(K. Brent Tomer),
The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking and the Future of the Global Economy. By Mervyn King. W.W. Norton; 448 pages; $28.95. Little, Brown; £25.
INSIDER accounts of the financial crisis are two a penny. The recollections of Timothy Geithner, a former American treasury secretary, are packed with pulsating drama. A book from Ben Bernanke, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, lacks the pyrotechnics but offers a robust defence of the Fed’s response to market meltdown. Mervyn King, who was governor of the Bank of England in 2003-13, sees such “instant memoirs” as “partial and self-serving”. In “The End of Alchemy” there is no gossip and few revelations. Instead Lord King uses his experience of the crisis as a platform from which to present economic ideas to non-specialists.
He does a good job of putting complex concepts into plain English. The discussion of the evolution of money—from Roman times to 19th-century America to today—is a useful introduction for those not quite sure what currency really is. He explains why economies need central banks: at best, they are independent…Continue reading