- Reading level: 18+ years
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin USA; Reissue edition (1 June 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452281806
- ISBN-13: 978-0452281806
- Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 2.2 x 22.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #85,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation Paperback – 1 Jun 2000
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“The subtle ways in which individual investors become drawn into crowd behavior is a much studied phenomenon, covered brilliantly… in the book Devil Take the Hindmost.”—The Daily Telegraph (London)
“The South Sea Company is one of the great bubble and crash stories. Many books have referred to it. One of the finest is Devil Take the Hindmost.”—Debashis Basu, Money Life
“[An] essential history of financial manias.”—The Observer
“A lively history of speculative manias and bubbles by a British banker turned writer.”—Susan Adams, Forbes
From the Back Cover
Devil Take the Hindmost is a lively, original, and challenging history of stock market speculation from the seventeenth century to the present day. Edward Chancellor traces the origins of the speculative spirit back to ancient Rome and chronicles its revival in the modern world: from the tulip scandal of 1630s Holland, to "stockjobbing" in London's Exchange Alley (where wine sold at auction by an "inch of a candle"), to the infamous South Sea Bubble of 1719, which prompted investor Sir Isaac Newton to comment, "I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people". Here are brokers underwriting risks that included highway robbery and the "assurance of female chastity"; credit notes and lottery tickets circulating as money; wise and unwise investors from Alexander Pope and Benjamin Disraeli to Ivan Boesky and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
From the Gilded Age to the Roaring Twenties, from the railway mania of nineteenth-century America to the crash of 1929, from junk bonds and the Japanese bubble economy to day-traders of the Information Era, Devil Take the Hindmost tells a fascinating story of human dreams and folly through the ages.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
His own analysis shows clearly that dishonest politicians, political manipulation, insider trading and even the involvement of organized crime are responsible for the growth and life of investment bubbles and yet in the concluding paragraph, he proceeds to draw the conclusion that speculators and the tools they use need to be controlled. In the last chapter the author quotes George Soros heavily calling for greater regulation of speculators while in fact, Soros is one of the greatest all time single biggest home run hitters with his speculation in the British Sterling in 1992 and who continues to be a large speculator in the energy markets backing cap and trade as he invests hugely in energy development in South America. A far more realistic conclusion that might be drawn from the involvement of speculators in the markets is their important contribution to the eventual exposure of the dishonesty in the markets in question and in bringing about the fall of those truly responsible. Read the book for the well researched history, do not bother with the conclusions.
Edward Chancellor's work, which is sub-titled "A History of Financial Speculation", covers history from the time of Tulipomania in 17th century Holland to the collapse of the modern Japanese economic bubble and the trade in junk bonds in America. If the book were to be revised, I am sure that Chancellor could readily cover the bursting of the dot com bubble and the ongoing travails of Japan.
In essence, "Devil Take the Hindmost" is a history of crowd madness. That is, an otherwise rational individual will often behave in a different manner when guided by a group. Such an individual may load up on dot com companies even though the price earnings ratios are screaming sell simply because others a buying and the market is trending upwards. However, as with all bubbles, there will be a bust. Bubbles come and go. When someone claims that "this time it's different", alarm bells should start to ring. The individual who can see reason in the crowd is the one who will avoid the inevitable slump.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in financial history. My only criticism is that Chancellor seems to think that speculation can sometimes be contained. This is not the case. Speculation lies at the heart of our modern economy.