THE VANDALS' CROWN by Gregory J. Millman


How Rebel Currency Traders Overthrew the World's Central Banks
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 A journalist's authoritative audit of the quiet revolutions that have not only convulsed the Global Village's financial centers but also have obliged investors to assume risks that are not widely appreciated, let alone understood. Throughout his accessible briefings on developments like the breakdown of the Bretton Woods accord, the emergence of a wealth of futures markets, and the computer-assisted creation of so-called derivatives, Millman (The Floating Battlefield, not reviewed) offers periodic takes on the 199293 clash that pitted hedgers and speculators acting in their own economic interests against the closet nationalists who sponsored the European Monetary System's Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). In addition to documenting the advantage that those who enforce supply/demand law have over regulatory agencies in a world where advanced telecommunications technology has effectively removed all borders, the author offers his rundowns on what's been happening in particular spots on the fiscal map. As Millman makes abundantly clear, moreover, the speculators castigated by central bankers and allied defenders of the stable-currencies faith are as apt to be multinational corporations hedging their positions as to be profit-crazed traders. Among the notable casualties of the seemingly irresistible trend to market-imposed financial discipline he lists Japan's fabled bureaucrats, who have lost control of their country's rigged stock markets. In the author's evenhanded view, the creative destruction owners and managers of capital have visited upon improvident, overly optimistic, or simply recalcitrant governments (whose weapon of choice, interest rates, can prove a two-edged sword) is a good omen for socioeconomic freedom. Whether the victors (whom Millman likens to the Vandal conquerors of the Roman Empire) can or will rule, of course, is another story altogether. A blue-chip reckoning on the consequences and implications of an increasingly interdependent world's financial order. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-02-921287-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995