“The purposes of money are constant, the way it operates varies hugely” says Paul Wilson at the outset – and few authors have illustrated this as interestingly as he does. Impressively erudite, he never lets his command of detail hold up the story, so that the reader is swept up in the stormy history of money’s role in some of the greatest social, political and military conflicts from ancient Rome to the cyber warfare of the 21st century.
Forrest Capie, Professor Emeritus of Economic History, Cass Business School and author of the modern History of the Bank of England writes:
“Robert Pringle has written a book on money that is different from any other.”
He “draws on a long life in the worlds of money, banking, and central banking and on his wide-ranging interests beyond economics and the social sciences to history and the arts to reflect on the strange relationship money and society have on and to each other.”
Of all my memories of Paul Volcker – I first met him in the early 1970s when we was UnderSecretary for Monetary Affairs at the US Treasury and I was editing The Banker – four are particularly persistent:
Sorry to have been absent for so long. Actually I haven’t been bone idle. At least, not all the time, though I did manage to stow away on a couple of long cruises. But even then, surfing the ocean waves in my 40,000 ton dinghy, I’ve been thinking about that funny old subject – yes, my favourite, money. From a different angle – the arts and sciences, history, literature, faith and illusion. And the result is – another book! Here is the beast:
Our subject is health - both the health of the global economy, and the health of its global citizens. Each is dependent on the other, especially in a world where healthcare expenditures continue to rise. According to the World Bank, they average ten percent of GDP and are nearly double that in the US.
As some of my more patient friends know, I have been toiling away at a book on Chinese monetary history during the Interwar period off and on for some years. Immersing myself in the public and private words of the historic figures of the 1930’s has perhaps sensitized me to the propensity of even well-intentioned leaders to glide into chaos. That which is unthinkable inexorably becomes inevitable.