Book Review: Money

People are suddenly into economics, apparently. A Piketty pandemic has swept across the printed press, the blogosphere, and most importantly the bestseller lists, following the recent publication of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital” in March. As is so often the case, what started with admiration swiftly turned to admonishment, when some data issues came to light, courtesy of the FT.

Notwithstanding the recently raised question around data integrity, Piketty’s “Capital” is still very much on every business-minded person’s reading list, and it is most certainly on mine.  However according to Mr Amazon, the book weighs a hefty 640 pages, which seemed rather a lot for a bank holiday weekend.  As a result, I chose to square up instead to Capital’s predecessor, “Money”, by Martin Amis, a mere welterweight at 400 pages. I felt that Mr Amis’ effort on the subject of all things pecuniary would stand me in good stead when I came to address Piketty’s even seriouser tome on the same.

I am afraid that I was gravely disappointed.  Far from being a pithy primer on money matters, “Money” was largely about some chap called John Self, whose expertise with the green stuff seems to have been primarily in disposing of it, as opposed to leveraging the high levels of return on capital in order to gain further share of overall wealth (which Wikipedia reassures me is Piketty’s centrale treatise).  What rot!  This became pretty evident in the first few pages, but I assumed that this Self character was some sort of vignette on what not to do, and that the serious economics would soon kick in.

I was let down once again.  We followed John from strip-club to dive bar to brothel and back again, with not a peep about supply, let alone demand, excepting of course demand for a whole range of vices, from booze, to drugs, to pornography.  Meanwhile the invisible hand was nowhere to be seen, though Mr Self’s extensive experience of hand-jobs was very well documented.

Quite why Mr Amis chose to write an economics textbook in such a fashion I do not know, and I am afraid that as a result I must award him two stars.  If he ever feels the urge to dip his toes in financial waters again, I can only direct him to the ever reliable “Business Writing For Dummies”, and wish him the very best of luck.

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