Alchemists of Loss: How modern finance and government intervention crashed the financial system

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9780470689158: Alchemists of Loss: How modern finance and government intervention crashed the financial system
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An engaging look at how modern finance almost destroyed our global economy

Over the last thirty years, capital markets have been restructured through the tenets of modern finance. This has been enormously profitable for the financial services sector. However, these innovations, coupled with unsound risk and regulatory practices have proved disastrous for the global economy.

In a clear and accessible style, ex-investment banker and financial journalist Martin Hutchinson, and highly respected academic, Kevin Dowd show how modern finance combined with easy money threatened to bring down the world financial system. At the heart of the book is modern finance as a U.S. invention, the theories and practices associated with them, and the changes they made in business models and risk management on Wall Street and other major financial centers.

  • Breaks down the events involved in the 2007-08 financial collapse
  • Reveals how botched policy response made a bad situation worse
  • Focuses on lessons that the practice of finance must learn from recent events

The Alchemists of Loss will help you to understand how our financial system crashed and show you what it will take to make sure this won't happen again as we move forward.

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From the Inside Flap:

“Many books have purported to examine the causes of the financial crash of 2008, but they really just provide commentary on the mistakes that were made. Authors have often concluded that we just need to make sure that governments stop markets making the same mistakes again – an approach that is doomed to failure. This book gets to the root causes of the crash [and]more government is not the solution.”

Philip Booth, Professor of Insurance and Risk Management, Cass Business School and Institute of Economic Affairs

“This book is must reading for anyone who wants to understand the true origins of the financial crisis and the reforms needed to create financial harmony.”

James A. Dorn, Cato Institute, Washington DC; editor of The Future of Money in the Information Age

“Unlike many financial prospectuses that preceded the Panic of 2008 and most of the discourse that has followed, Alchemists of Lossis not filled with contradictory statements, double-talk and non sequiturs. Dowd and Hutchinson present a clear, comprehensive and compelling diagnosis in which all of the culprits are hung out to dry. The authors then lay out a detailed blueprint for replacing what they finger as crony capitalism with Free-Market Capitalism.”

Steve H. Hanke, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA

“What if the 2007–2008 financial crisis was but the last by-product of the ‘Keynesian episode’? Alchemists of Lossdraws lessons from the economic crises of the past, to envisage a way out of the current financial mess. This book is a must read for anyone who cares for the future of the world economy.”

Alberto Mingardi, Director General,
Istituto Bruno Leoni, Milan

“Bracing, sharp, bleakly amusing and profoundly depressing, Alchemists of Lossis a fascinating, smart, often contrarian analysis of how the financial system got into the mess into which it now finds itself – and why none of us are likely to emerge in one piece.”

Andrew Stuttaford, Contributing editor, National Review Online

From the Back Cover:

They won seven Nobel prizes. They inspired the greed of a generation of Wall Street bankers and their theories contributed to the greatest financial crash in world history, followed by the worst global downturn in 75 years.

They were the Alchemists of Loss.

Their theories were taught in every business school in the world and changed the way every public company finances itself. They created a Wall Street that made gigantic fortunes, yet contributed less and less to global economic well-being. They created a risk management culture that encouraged risk rather than managed it, and led to the collapse of much of the financial system.

Disasters are generally caused by bad ideas. The Alchemists were not the only bad idea merchants out there. There was the strange theory that the government should guarantee housing loans – and the tottering towers of mismanaged risk that resulted. There were the regulators, who thought risk could be eliminated by 1000-page rulebooks, and then there were the business school academics, who thought capitalism with institutional ownership, massive borrowing and “scientific” management control was just as good as the real thing.

Finally, there were the politicians and central bankers, and their Keynesian policy advisers, whose incessant meddling undermined the capitalist system and left many of the world’s major governments effectively insolvent whilst saddling taxpayers with an unprecedented bill.

Alchemists of Loss shows with incisive detail and wit how this witches’ cauldron of error produced disaster, and how it will continue producing disaster and leeching wealth if left unchecked. It shows how to do better, by replacing financial alchemy with financial chemistry, by reversing the errors that have brought destruction, and by creating a truly free market system – or at least the closest we can get in an imperfect world.

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