Taking the 2008 financial crisis as his jumping off point, Alex Pollock deftly illustrates how private firms and governments alike have failed to understand the shifting risks that financial systems create. With candor, clarity, and wit, he uncovers the persistent uncertainties inherent in banking, central banking, and economics.
“At the height of the 2008 financial panic, Queen Elizabeth plaintively asked why nobody saw it coming. In the winning pages of Finance and Philosophy, Her Majesty can find the answer. With a lightness of touch that belies the complexity of his subject, Alex Pollock shows why the financial future is now, why it has been and always must be a closed book. A successful banker and gifted writer, Pollock tells us all we need to know about money and banking, risk and uncertainty, debt and temptation, and science and economics. He delights as he instructs.”—James Grant, founder and editor, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer
“Why can’t human beings take the lessons of boom and bust, bubbles and crashes that are clearly described in history books—and learn from experience? That’s where Mr. Pollock’s wry humor and philosophic bent help understand the hubris that makes every generation believe that not only can it predict the markets, but control them . . . [Finance and Philosophy] should be required reading in economics classes, or before opening an investment account—and by every member of Congress.”
—The Washington Times
“Pollock’s observations and historical examples are compelling, and his wide-ranging discussion of banking and financial crises is not only accessible, but a pleasure to read.”—Real Clear Markets
"An intellectually penetrating and thought-provoking book.”—Central Banking
“Alex Pollock shows how financial jargon obscures simple realities, how very smart people are prone to spectacular financial mistakes, and how government efforts to make finance smarter and more stable have made it much worse on both scores. Drawing on Pollock’s highly successful career in banking and scholarship, Finance and Philosophy is a fount of sharp insight and high wisdom.”—Chris DeMuth, President, American Enterprise Institute, 1986–2008
“As in all of Alex Pollock’s writings, Finance and Philosophy combines the author’s subtle but caustic wit with brilliant insights grounded in his long experience analyzing America’s financial fads and foibles. No one does a better job of pointing out the philosophical and historical fallacies underlying the portentous pronouncements by our leading economic and fiscal ‘experts’ on everything from the future of interest rates and the national debt to the tech bubble of the 1990s and the 2007–09 financial meltdown. This book needs to be read by every present and future Secretary of the Treasury and chairman of the Federal Reserve.”—Arthur Herman, author of 1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder
Alex J. Pollock is a distinguished senior fellow at the R Street Institute in Washington, DC. He was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 2004 to 2015, and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago from 1991 to 2004.
Watch Alex Pollock's book talk at the American Enterprise Institute.