“Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics,” by William Bonner and Lila Rajiva, Wiley, September, 2007.
Best-selling financial author Bill Bonner and financial/political writer Lila Rajiva team up for this hilarious send up of the follies of the “guv’mint”, the corporatocracy and the chattering classes.
Comments in Advance:
“The book strikes at the center of conventional wisdom. It is brilliant, deep, and fun to read,”
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the legendary international best-seller, “Fooled By Randomness,” and “The Black Swan.”
“Learn about Fed bubbles, and make Ben Bernanke unhappy: Read this book,”
— Lew Rockwell, President of The Ludwig von Mises Institute
“Entertainingly and irreverently investigates the “do-gooders” and “world-improvers” who stir up mass hysterias, unjustified wars and financial crises, while at the same time it warns readers how to better protect themselves and their pocketbooks.”
— Congressman Ron Paul, Presidential Candidate
“If I had to name just one book investors should read, this is the one I would select,”
–Dr. Marc Faber, editor of the maverick “Gloom Boom and Doom Report” and author of the Amazon best seller, “Tomorrow’s Gold– Asia’s Age of Discovery
“As fun to read as it is thought-provoking,”
— John Mauldin, author of the New York Times best seller, Bull’s Eye Investing and editor of “Thoughts from the Frontline
“A cock-eyed, frolicking hell of a read.”
— Dr. Mark Skousen, Professor of Economics and editor of The Worldly Philosophers.
“I laughed aloud, I learned, and I was even offended. Behind the crafty writing, the authors share the deeper secrets of investing and push us to question what we believe. “Think for yourself!” this book screams.
— Steve Sjuggerud, editor of True Wealth, one of the world’s most widely read investment letters.
“A classic for the student of the current period in history” — Dr. Marc Faber
World-famous contrarian investment guru and the author of several books, including, “Tomorrow’s Gold– Asia’s Age of Discovery,” an Amazon best-seller translated into numerous languages, Dr. Marc Faber is a former Zurich gnome and managing director of Drexel, Burnham, Lambert who now runs his own firm in Hong Kong, from where he publishes the maverick “Gloom Boom & Doom” Report.
April 20, 2007
Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Bill Bonner and Lila Rajiva will never earn a Nobel Prize in Economics. Why? Because this book is highly readable, makes sense and does not contain the usual incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo one finds in other financial and economic books. Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets makes very complex economic, social and geopolitical issues understandable to normal people like you and me. What Barbara Tuchman did by writing informative and absorbing history books, Bonner and Rajiva do with this highly entertaining book written for the general public to understand economics and finance.
But who would have the time to read a close-to 400 page book? These days, most people are happy to gain “knowledge” and “become informed” about everything everywhere in the world from thirty second shots on TV news-channels. Still, it’s my opinion that they would be making a grave error if they did not find the time to read Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets.
Here is why. Books should be read for one or both of two reasons. Since reading is physically and mentally rather demanding, I obviously want to read a book that is informative, increases my knowledge, and is thought provoking. Otherwise why bother? The other reason I read a book is for pure enjoyment. Either the author captures my attention through the complex plot of a thriller or the tragic emotions of a drama, or he does it through his superb command of the English language and his ability to make me laugh.
Well, I read the manuscript of this book on flights from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore, from Singapore to Shanghai and Shanghai to Dubai, and I read it on China Beach in Vietnam. On each of those flights, people were staring at me, because I would repeatedly burst out laughing. Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets is one of the funniest and most entertaining books I have ever read. But beyond that, Bonner and Rajiva are also accomplished and honest historians who expose the dangerous conspiracy engineered with lies and deception by American “elites,” politicians, Wall Street, and the US Federal Reserve, whose effect is to shift wealth from the middle and working class to the elites and their cronies.
Referring to the eroding purchasing power of the US dollar, Bonner and Rajiva note that even as the Federal Reserve increased the quantity of bank -notes, the quality of the notes declined. The problem, they argue, is that while political power is in Washington and financial power lies in New York, the real power is where the two come together in the Federal Reserve system. And while the Fed may have been chartered to protect the currency, its new job is only to get the politicians re-elected and keep the money flowing to Washington in order to give people the impression that they are economically better off. Not surprisingly, Bonner and Rajiva have a low opinion of central bankers. “Modern central banking, like bank robbing is a nefarious métier,” they write. “But while Bonnie and Clyde’s crime was obvious and deplorable, a central banker is often confused with an honest man.”
In the world of finance there are thousands of books on how to value stocks, on technical analysis, currencies, commodities, bonds and macroeconomics, but there are hardly any books that capture the Zeitgeist of gigantic financial excesses. “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator,” based on the life of the legendary Jesse Livermore, was one. It became an enormously popular book and a “classic” precisely because it captured the spirit of the investment mania of the late 1920s. I predict that Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets will in time become as much a classic for the student of the current period in history, because it combines so many interesting aspects of psychology, politics and finance into an informative and captivating narrative. I am confident that the first edition of this book will command a high price among collectors of rare books in the future and that your children will one day shake their heads and wonder how today’s generation could have been so badly deceived by blatant lies, “reformers,” “military heroes,” and “world improvers.”
In fact, “Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets” is such an excellent piece of work that if I had to name just one book investors should read, this is the one I would select.
Bestselling author Bill Bonner has long been a maverick observer of the financial and political world, sharpening his sardonic wit, in particular, on the vagaries of the investing public. Market booms and busts, tulip manias and dotcom bubbles, venture capitalists and vulture funds, he lets you know, are best explained not by dry statistics and obscure theories but by the metaphors and analogies of literature.
Now, in Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets, Bonner and journalist/analyst Lila Rajiva use literary economics to offer broader insights into mass behavior and its devastating effects on society. Why is it, they ask, that perfectly sane and responsible individuals can get together, and by some bizarre alchemy turn into an irrational mob? What makes them trust charlatans and demagogues who manipulate their worst instincts? Why do they abandon good sense, good behavior and good taste when an empty slogan is waved in front of them. Why is the road to hell paved with so many sterling intentions? Why is there a fool on every corner and a knave in every public office?
In attempting an answer, the authors weave a light-hearted journey through history, politics and finance to show group think at work in an improbable array of instances, from medieval crusades to the architectural follies of hedge-fund managers. Their journey takes them ultimately to the desk of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank and to a cautionary tale of the current bubble economy. They warn that the gush of credit let loose by Alan Greenspan and multiplied by the sophisticated number games of Wall Street whizzes is fraught with perils for the unwary. Boom without end, pronounces The Street. But Bonner and Rajiva are more cynical. When the higher math and the greater greed come together, watch out below!
Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets ends by giving concrete advice on how readers can avoid what the authors call the ‘public spectacle’ of modern finance, and become, instead, ‘private’ investors – knowing their own mind and following their own intuitions. The authors have no gimmicks to offer here – but instead give a better understanding of the dynamics of market behavior, allowing prudent investors to protect themselves from the fads and follies of the investment markets.
William R. Bonner is President and CEO of Agora Inc., one of the world’s largest financial newsletter companies. He is the creator of the Daily Reckoning, a contrarian financial newsletter sent via e-mail (www.dailyreckoning.com). Bonner is previously the author, with Addison Wiggin, of the international bestsellers, Financial Reckoning Day (0-471-44973-3) and Empire of Debt (0-471-73902-2).
Lila Rajiva is a financial editor at the Daily Reckoning, a political journalist and the author of The Language of Empire, a ground-breaking study of the media coverage of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.