Book Review: 'Easy Money'

Sunday, 15 December 2013 - 12:14pm IST | Agency: DNA

Book: Easy Money
Author: Vivek Kaul
Publisher: Sage Publications
Pages: 277
Price: Rs395

“What experience and history teaches is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced form it.” GWF Hegel.

This time is no different.

Vivek Kaul in his book Easy Money, the first of a trilogy, tells us a compelling tale of the evolution of money and what led to the financial crisis of 2008 that shook the world.

One of the often-asked questions about the economic meltdown is what was its cause? Kaul attempts to answer this albeit a little differently. Instead of finding ready solutions, he takes a step back and like a fine storyteller starts right from the beginning.

He starts from history. Back in the day, salt, slaves and the skins of animals were effectively used as money. Then Kaul goes on to tell us how gold and silver emerged as money and finally, how it evolved to its present day form of paper money.

There have been several trivial developments in the past centuries and decades that have had a huge role to play in the financial crisis and had been quietly fuelling the bubble ever since.

What is alarming is that you don’t need to be a financial wizard to understand that no significant lessons have been learnt from history.

Kaul is not an economist and rightly assumes that neither are his readers. Unlike other books that seem to have had been written by one economist for other, this book is for everyone who is ready to try out a riveting cocktail of history and economics. There is no jargon to throw you off balance. Instead, the writing is simple, suave and lucid.

Another thing that works in favour of the book is that the writer tries to ease the readers into complex issues with amusing anecdotes. For instance, the chapter titled Merchant of Venice that talks about the early history of paper money starts with a tale of King Henry VIII who had a waist size of 54 inches and dies of obesity! And as you savour this nuggets of information he goes on to talk about the debasement of money, which still continues.

The book ends at the First World War but since this is the first in a three-part series, one can assume that the future years will covered in the successive books.

If you are a financial mogul, then you can skip reading this but those who want to learn about the financial crisis and what led to it, this is a must read.


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