Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market

 
9781516891139: Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market

Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market is one of the all-time classics of finance and monetary policy, and is still relied upon today by central banks world-wide for its statement of broad principles in times of financial calamity. Written in 1873 in reaction to the Bank of England's response to a financial meltdown--the collapse of a bank, which induced a panic that spread throughout the country in 1866--Lombard Street was one of the first books to describe international monetary policy in clear, easy-to-understand terms. Walter Bagehot's advice for central bankers a century and a half ago is still sage today: in times of financial panic, lend freely to solvent firms with good collateral at higher-but-fair rates--a seemingly simple principle but one that many countries failed to follow, always to their detriment, until the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s made Bagehot's advice mainstream theory for central bankers. Eminently readable, and both useful and important today as a foundational document, Lombard Street is essential reading for anyone interested in basic monetary policy and the workings of central banks in times of crisis.

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Review:

People panicked during a credit crunch or economic downturn on London's Lombard Street of the 1800s just as they do on Wall Street today. That's only one reason this reprint of the classic book by famed 19th-century economist Walter Bagehot offers lessons even now. First published in 1873, the book is a compilation of 11 essays that Bagehot wrote as the editor of The Economist, and includes his advice to banks for dealing with financial crises: "We must keep a great store of ready money always available, and advance out of it very freely in periods of panic, and in times of incipient alarm. Any notion that money is not to be had, or that it may not be had at any price, only raises alarm to panic and enhances panic to madness."

In terms of the U.S. savings-and-loan crisis and the Asian economic meltdown of the 1990s, Bagehot's words still ring as timely, even with the dated references to British politics of the time. For example, he proposed allowing unstable banks to collapse and advocated creating an independent finance professional to run the nation's central bank. Lombard Street, named after London's financial district and the birthplace of the money market, will be an eye opener for students and others interested in the history and workings of financial systems. --Dan Ring

Book Description:

Published originally in 1873, this work is a masterpiece of economics, described by J. M. Keynes as 'an undying classic'. It explains the world of banking and finance, particularly financial crisis management. The ideas remain relevant today, especially in view of the global financial crisis that started in 2007.

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