A Rabble of Dead Money

By -

Good morning, everyone. I wanted to apologize that I’m going to be in absentia for the trading day, as I have some important family business to attend to (if any outside contributors want to put up a draft, great, because I’ll probably find a spare moment to post it).

In the meantime, I wanted to offer up a book review of A Rabble of Dead Money, recently published and written by Charles Morris, an esteemed economic historian. It describes itself on the cover as about “The Great Crash and Global Depression: 1929-1939”, but the vast majority of the book is about the period prior the the depression itself.

For me , the book was a “10” for about 60% of the text and a “5 to 6” for the other 40%. The problem isn’t the writing – – Mr. Morris is an engaging writer with an exhaustive vocabulary and deeply-researched scholarship. The reason a big chunk of the book was, for me, skimmable, was that it focused so much on international economic data such as trade deficits, national account balances, currency exchange rates, and, more than any other topic, the gold standard.

I found myself far more interested in the chapters about manufacturing, technical innovations, and the human side of the era (both in the political realm and that of the common man). I suppose I’m a “fuzzy” at heart, since I lean more toward the man-on-the-street experience as opposed to econometric tables and debates about whether or not gold should be the basis for international currencies. (Those who have read my own history book, Panic Prosperity and Progress, can attest to my bias).

For those of you interested in U.S. history (like me) and international economics (meh, not so much), you’ll find A Rabble of Dead Money to be an enjoyable read.