This book is so well written, and the turn of phrase so exquisite that you can put aside the more grisly nature of the topic. Actually a more accurate assessment is that you can face such a grisly topic without feeling depressed. The fact that you are not depressed will allow you to realize the extraordinary parallels with the current situation (2006-2009). Most important you will avoid the concerns of Lyndon Johnson (who once remarked to John Kenneth Galbraith: "Did y'ever think, Ken, that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.")
This book is indeed 'hot' and this rendition is divided into chapters, which makes the listening more convenient, and on listening or future deserved relistening it is much easier to find content.
This book is read by the late John Macdonald (http://dctheatrescene.com/2008/07/15/in-memory-of-john-macdonald/) who is one of the best audio book readers I have come across, and this is his best work.
Rampant speculation. Record trading volumes. Assets bought not because of their value but because the buyer believes he can sell them for more in a day or two, or an hour or two. Welcome to the late 1920s. There are obvious and absolute parallels to the great bull market of the late 1990s, writes Galbraith in a new introduction dated 1997. Of course, Galbraith notes, every financial bubble since 1929 has been compared to the Great Crash, which is why this book has never been out of print since it became a bestseller in 1955.
Galbraith writes with great wit and erudition about the perilous actions of investors, and the curious inaction of the government. He notes that the problem wasn't a scarcity of securities to buy and sell; "the ingenuity and zeal with which companies were devised in which securities might be sold was as remarkable as anything." Those words become strikingly relevant in light of revenue-negative start-up companies coming into the market each week in the 1990s, along with fragmented pieces of established companies, like real estate and bottling plants. Of course, the 1920s were different from the 1990s. There was no safety net below citizens, no unemployment insurance or Social Security. And today we don't have the creepy investment trusts--in which shares of companies that held some stocks and bonds were sold for several times the assets' market value. But, boy, are the similarities spooky, particularly the prevailing trend at the time toward corporate mergers and industry consolidations--not to mention all the partially informed people who imagined themselves to be financial geniuses because the shares of stock they bought kept going up. --Lou Schuler
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 – 2006)
The Canadian-born, Berkeley-trained John Kenneth Galbraith remained something of a renegade in modern economics - and his work has been nothing if not provocative.
Quotes from "The Great Crash: 1929"
From the Introduction
Extracts from "The Great Crash: 1929", John Kenneth Galbraith, Page 27
"Even in such a time of madness as the late twenties, a great many man in Wall Street remained quite sane. But they also remained very quiet. The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil. Perhaps this is inherent. In a community where the primary concern is making money, one of the necessary rules is to live and let live. To speak out against madness may be to ruin those who have succumbed to it. So the wise in Wall Street are nearly always silent. The foolish thus have the field to themselves. None rebukes them."
From Chapter 5: "The Twilight of Illusion"
Extracts from "The Great Crash: 1929", John Kenneth Galbraith, Page 98 to 99
"Indeed the temporary breaks in the market which preceded the crash were a serious trial for those who had declined fantasy. Early in 1928, in June, in December, and in Februrary and March of 1929 it seemed that the end had come. On various of these occasions the [New York] Times happily reported the return to reality. And then the market took flight again. Only a durable sense of doom could survive such discouragement. The time was coming when the optimists would reap a rich harvest of discredit. But is has long since been forgotten that for many months those who resisted reassurance were similarly, if less permantently discredited. To that the Times, when the real crash came, reported the event with jubilation would be an exaggeration. Nevertheless, it coverted it with an unmistakable absence of sorrow."
From Chapter 8: "Aftermath I"
Extracts from "The Great Crash: 1929", John Kenneth Galbraith, Page 152 to 153.
"In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months, or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. there is a net increase in psychic wealth.) At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in - or more precisely not in - the country's business and banks. This inventory - it should be called the bezzle. It also varies in size with the business cycle."
From Chapter 10: "Cause and Consequence"
Extracts from "The Great Crash: 1929", John Kenneth Galbraith, Page 197 to 202.
"There seems little question that in 1929, modifying a famous cliche, the economy was fundamentally unsound. This is a circumstance of first-rate importance. Many things were wrong, but five weaknesses seem to have had an especially intimate bearing on the ensuing disaster. They are:
(1) The bad distribution of income.
(2) The bad corporate structure.
(3) The bad banking structure
(4) The dubious state of the foreign balance.
(5) The poor state of economic intelligence.
Note related to this posting: The artist formerly known as Meatloaf would hasten to comment that 4/5 ain't (better than 2 out of 3), which indeed may account for our current predicament.
Comments and Contents
This item contains the following content:
1] The unabridged audiobook as 11 MP3 files. Introduction and 10 Chapters.
2] A file of the cover (The great crash.bmp)
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