THE EPIC STRUGGLE TO CREATE THE FEDERAL RESERVE
A tour de force of historical reportage, America’s Bank illuminates the tumultuous era and remarkable personalities that spurred the unlikely birth of America’s modern central bank, the Federal Reserve.
For nearly a century, America, alone among developed nations, refused to consider any central or organizing agency in its financial system. Americans’ mistrust of big government and of big banks—a legacy of the country’s Jeffersonian, small-government traditions—was so widespread that modernizing reform was deemed impossible. Each bank was left to stand on its own, with no central reserve or lender of last resort. The real-world consequences of this chaotic and provincial system were frequent financial panics, bank runs, money shortages and depressions.
By the first decade of the twentieth century, the outmoded banking system was ill-equipped to finance America’s growing industrial prowess. But political will for reform was lacking. It took an economic meltdown, a high-level tour of Europe and—improbably—a conspiratorial effort by vilified captains of Wall Street, to overcome popular resistance. Finally, in 1913, Congress conceived a federalist and quintessentially American solution to the conflict that had divided bankers, farmers, populists and ordinary Americans, and enacted the landmark Federal Reserve Act.
Lowenstein tells the drama-laden story of how America created the Federal Reserve, thereby taking its first steps onto the world stage as a global financial power. America’s Bank showcases Lowenstein at his very finest: illuminating complex financial and political issues with striking clarity, infusing the debates of our past with all the gripping immediacy of today, and painting unforgettable portraits of Gilded Age bankers, presidents, and politicians.
Lowenstein focuses on the four men at the heart of the struggle to create the Federal Reserve. These were Paul Warburg, a refined German-born financier, recently relocated to New York, who was horrified at the primitive condition of America’s finances; Rhode Island’s Nelson W. Aldrich, the reigning power broker in the U.S. Senate and an archetypal Gilded Age legislator; Carter Glass, the ambitious, if then little-known Virginia congressman who chaired the House Banking Committee at a crucial moment of political transition; and President Woodrow Wilson, the academician-turned-progressive politician who forced Glass to reconcile his deep-seated differences with bankers and accept the principle (anathema to Southern Democrats) of federal control. Weaving together a raucous era in American politics with a storied financial crisis and intrigue at the highest levels of Washington and Wall Street, Lowenstein brings the beginnings of one of the country’s most crucial institutions to vivid and unforgettable life. Readers of this gripping historical narrative will wonder whether they’re reading about one hundred years ago or the still-seething conflicts that mark our discussions of banking and politics today.
"Roger Lowenstein has accomplished a small miracle..."
-David Nasaw, author of The Patriarch and Andrew Carnegie
-Alan S. Blinder, American Economist and Author
“…an unusually lucid history of our nation’s central bank.”
“Incisive and brilliantly researched, this is an important and original book about one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in our history with lessons aplenty for today.”
-Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance:
THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN CAPITALIST
The classic biography of America's most successful investor.
Since its hardcover publication in August of 1995, Buffett has appeared on the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Newsday and Business Week bestseller lists. The richly reported, landmark portrait of Warren Buffett's uniquely American life, updated by the author.
Starting from scratch, simply by picking stocks and companies for investment, Warren Buffett amassed one of the epochal fortunes of the twentieth century--an astounding net worth now in the tens of billions of dollars (and counting). His nonpareil investment record has made him a cult figure popularly known for his seeming contradictions: a billionaire who has a modest lifestyle, a phenomenally successful investor who eschews the revolving-door trading of modern Wall Street, and a brilliant dealmaker whose homespun aura and commonsensical approach has won him as many disciples on Main Street as on Wall Street.
Lowenstein draws on three years of unprecedented access to Buffett's family, friends, and colleagues to provide the first definitive, inside account of the life and career of this American original. Buffett explains Buffett's investment strategy--a long-term philosophy grounded in buying stock in undervalued companies and hanging on until their worth invariably surfaces--and sometimes forever--and shows how his business style is a reflection of his inner self.
"A delightful portrait . . . Mr. Lowenstein has done a masterly job."
- The New York Times Book Review
"Lowenstein has accomplished something remarkable."
- Los Angeles Times
"A significant contribution to the craft of biography as well as an illuminating and comforting story for investors everywhere."
- Chicago Tribune
"The singular achievement of Lowenstein's excellent biography... is that it burnishes the Buffett myth while deconstructing it with heavy doses of reality."
"Lively, smoothly written, and elaborately researched, Buffett is likely to stand as the definitive biography."
"Thoroughly researched and perceptive . . . a highly readable account."
- Financial Times
When Genius Failed
THE RISE AND FALL OF LONG-TERM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
The emblematic market meltdown story—how the smartest hedge fund ever failed.
A BUSINESS WEEK BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
In this business classic—now with a new Afterword in which the author draws parallels to the recent financial crisis—Roger Lowenstein captures the gripping roller-coaster ride of the Greenwich, Ct. hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management. Drawing on confidential internal memos and interviews with dozens of key players, Lowenstein explains not just how the fund made and lost its money but also how the personalities of Long-Term’s partners, the arrogance of their mathematical certainties, and the culture of Wall Street itself contributed to both their rise and their fall.
When it was founded in 1993, Long-Term was hailed as the most impressive hedge fund in history. But after four years in which the firm dazzled Wall Street as a $100 billion moneymaking juggernaut, it suddenly suffered catastrophic losses that jeopardized not only the biggest banks on Wall Street but the stability of the financial system itself. The Fed-orchestrated private bailout of Long-Term, forced on the big banks in 1998, shocked Wall Street and shattered all precedent. Since the mortgage meltdown that would strike all of Wall Street, from Lehman Brothers to AIG, a decade later, When Genius Failed seems only more timeless. As Lowenstein shows in his new Afterword, the story of the Nobel Prize-winning hedge fund “geniuses” is truly a parable for market meltdowns in an age of instability.
“Story-telling journalism at its best.”
“A riveting account that reaches beyond the market landscape to say something universal about risk and triumph, about hubris and failure.”
—The New York Times
“[Roger] Lowenstein has written a squalid and fascinating tale of world-class greed and, above all, hubris.”
“Compelling . . . The fund was long cloaked in secrecy, making the story of its rise . . . and its ultimate destruction that much more fascinating.”
—The Washington Post
Origins of the Crash
THE GREAT BUBBLE AND ITS UNDOING
A brilliant dissection of why 1990s corporate America and Wall Street went off the rails.
With his singular gift for turning complex financial events into eminently readable stories, Roger Lowenstein lays bare the labyrinthine financial turmoil of the manic and tumultuous 1990s. In an enthralling narrative, he ties together not just the wet-behind-the-ears entrepreneurs, the gulling stock promoters, and the haughty theoreticians of the dot-com bubble—among them, those who contended that successful investment vehicles no longer needed to be profitable —but also the truly villainous financial characters that made Enron a household name. He also offers a unique synthesis of the culture of the era, tying corporate America’s manifold excesses to the misapplied theory of “shareholder value” and to Academia’s simplistic belief that stock options could be a panacea for lagging corporate returns. Just as John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Great Crash was a defining text of the Great Depression, Lowenstein’s Origins of the Crash is destined to be the book that will frame our understanding of the 1990s.
"The perfect epitaph to an era of monumental avarice and folly on Wall Street. This is financial history at its best."
"A crucial account of an era of excess and folly...riveting...will only seem fresher with time."
"As a premier business journalist and author, Lowenstein has the chops to deliver what this book promises: 'the definitive account' of Wall Street's latest unraveling."
—Jeffrey M. O'Brien, Wired
While America Aged
HOW PENSION DEBTS RUINED GENERAL MOTORS, STOPPED THE NYC SUBWAYS, BANKRUPTED SAN DIEGO AND LOOM AS THE NEXT FINANCIAL CRISIS
An ahead-of-its time forecast of the pension crisis facing America-and the road map for a way out.
In the last several decades, corporations and local governments made ruinous pension and healthcare promises to American workers. With these now coming due, they threaten to destroy twenty-first- century Americans’ hopes for a comfortable retirement and to undermine state and city and corporate solvency as well. With his trademark narrative panache, Lowenstein analyzes three fascinating case studies-General Motors from the era of Walter Reuther to the present, the New York City subway system, whose workers ultimately went on strike in a quest for higher pensions, and the city of San Diego, where the tension between union pension demands and budget and local tax constraints exploded into a major civic scandal. . When the book was first published, in 2008, the pension crisis was barely on anyone’s radar. Today, in the aftermath of GM’s bankruptcy, and of the municipal bankruptcies of Detroit, Mi., Stockton, Ca., and other cities, While America Aged stands as a prescient warning. Each of its cases offers a compelling story that illuminates how the pension crisis developed. Lowenstein’s warning that his trio of cases were the only first has proven to be only too true, and more such pension blow-ups inevitably loom. Aside from telling a gripping story of financial and political folly, While America Aged serves an urgent call to action and a prescription for reform.
"Lowenstein depicts the pension crisis like entertaining historical fiction with lessons in history, business, and human nature."
—Ellen Marsden, BookPage
"A chilling anatomy of one bad decision followed by another—and another."
"...examples not only of the way most individual Americans conduct their personal finances, but also of how the country as a whole has long lived beyond its means. . . Gripping."
—Phillip Longman, The Washington Post
The End of Wall Street
Lowenstein’s riveting, insider’s account of the Wall Street debacle of 2008.
Lowenstein's The End of Wall Street unfurls a gripping chronicle of the 2008 financial collapse, drawing on 180 interviews with top government officials and Wall Street CEOs. Lowenstein looks to the roots of the crisis to reveal how America succumbed to the siren song of easy debt and speculative mortgages. In his trenchant and fair-minded analysis, blame is shared by greedy bankers and reckless borrowers alike—and by asleep-at-the-switch (or naïve) government regulators and by trusted but porous institutions such as the rating agencies. Combining deep analysis with sizzling narrative, The End of Wall Street charts the end of an era of unprecedented and unwarranted optimism while looking ahead to the legacy of the bailout.
“...a standout...what may be the best explanation yet of the recent crash—and as good a prediction as any on what happens next.”
“Lowenstein, a magnificent business writer, creates an almost novelistic accounting of the all-too-real 2008 financial collapse...Lownestein has a pitch-perfect sense of the Street's monumental recklessness.”
“...debunks the notion that no one could have seen the economic catastrophe coming.”