Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fool's Gold

Last week I read "Fool's Gold" by Gillian Tett. This is another book about the recent financial crisis focusing on J. P. Morgan (now part of JPMorgan Chase). I didn't find it all that worthwhile. Much of it just recaps recent events with little new information if you were paying attention at the time. And if you weren't paying attention it isn't really a good history because its coverage is too spotty.

It also follows the careers of a few bankers who were together at J. P. Morgan in the 1990s devising innovative financial products. Again I didn't find this very interesting. The sketches of the bankers were not detailed enough to bring them alive for me or make me care much what became of them. The most interesting part for me was the material about Jamie Dimon who was not originally part of J. P. Morgan but became head of JPMorgan Chase after several mergers. But it suffers from the impression that Tett, like many journalists, has gained access by implicitly promising favorable coverage. None of the subjects are treated at all harshly and Dimon in particular is depicted favorably.

So while the book is readable and sometimes entertaining I don't think it contributes much to understanding the recent crisis.

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