Sunday, June 6, 2010

Five best books about financial dynasties

Fouad Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins, named his five favorite books about financial dynasties for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
by Jean Strouse

Jean Strouse doesn't set out to redeem J.P. Morgan's reputation in writing his biography, but by the time she is done he emerges as a figure of great probity. The U.S. didn't have a central bank until 1913, the year of Morgan's death, for the man had been, in essence, the nation's central banker. He managed to keep America on the gold standard during a monetary crisis in 1895, he saw the banking system through the crash of 1907. He helped transform the U.S. from a largely agrarian society into an industrial colossus. In a legendary exchange before a congressional committee in 1912, Morgan rejected the suggestion that commercial credit was based primarily on money or property. "No sir; the first thing is character. Because a man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom."
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue