The Ascent of Hooey

By Robert K. Landis

On October 16, 1929, Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, made a famous prediction: “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” [1] The prediction, coming as it did less than two weeks before Black Tuesday, ultimately ruined the popular reputation of this celebrity economist. On November 13, 2008, some two months after the Federal takeover of Fannie Mae (September 7) and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers (September 13), Niall Ferguson, Professor of History at Harvard University, published The Ascent of Money (Penguin Press, 2008). Only time will tell whether this book, a spirited defense of the monetary status quo directed at the general public, will do for this celebrity historian what his stock price prediction did for Professor Fisher.

The Ascent of Money bills itself as A Financial History of the World. A pleasant, undemanding read, it brilliantly, albeit unwittingly, demonstrates why the English speaking world is so stupid about money: our elites wish it so.

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