Brilliantly reported and riveting, Neil Irwin's The Alchemists is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the global reach of the financial crisis through which we are still living. The international perspective brings a fascinating and wholly new dimension to the story, one that has until now not been adequately told. (Liaquat Ahamed, author of 'Lords of Finance')
Brings events to life without losing sight of the bigger issues ( Money Week)
Irwin's sweep is impressive ( The Economist)
The Alchemists was praised by fellow judge and former UK minister Shriti Vadera for "saying something that's not been said" about the US and European central bankers who had to manage the meltdown. ( Financial Times)
A detailed and fast-moving account of these perilous years. This is the crisis as told through emails, phone calls, meetings and one very fateful walk along the beach in Deauville, France. ( Wall Street Journal)
[Mr. Irwin] has provided an accessible, engrossing account of the tribulations that Mr. Bernanke, with Mervyn A. King of the Bank of England and Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank, endured in pulling the world financial system back from collapse... Mr. Irwin seems to have talked with everyone, read the right scholarly papers and interviewed important dissenters in the Fed, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bundesbank... He has a nice touch for translating central banking's mysteries, opaque and forbidding, into understandable English. He is astute in describing the internal and external politics of institutions traditionally expected to remain above politics of the usual sort. ( New York Times)
When the first rumblings of the coming financial crisis were heard in August 2007, three men who were never elected to public office suddenly became the most powerful men in the world. They were the leaders of the world's three most important central banks: Ben Bernanke of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Mervyn King of the Bank of England, and Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank. Over the next five years, they and their fellow central bankers deployed trillions of dollars, pounds and euros to try and contain the waves of panic that threatened to bring down the global financial system.
Neil Irwin's The Alchemists is both a gripping account of the most intense exercise in economic crisis management we've ever seen, and an insightful examination of the role and power of the central bank. It begins in Stockholm, Sweden, in the seventeenth century, where central banking had its rocky birth, and then progresses through a brisk but dazzling tutorial on how the central banker came to exert such vast influence over our world. It is the story of how these figures and institutions became what they are - the possessors of extraordinary power over our collective fate. What they chose to do with those powers is the heart of the story Irwin tells.
Irwin covered the financial crisis for the Washington Post, enjoying privileged access to leading central bankers and the people close to them. His account, based on reporting that took place in 27 cities in 11 countries, is the holistic, truly global story of the central bankers' role in the world economy we have been missing. It is a landmark reckoning with central bankers and their power, with the great financial crisis of our time, and with the history of the relationship between capitalism and the state. Definitive, revelatory, and riveting, The Alchemists shows us where money comes from--and where it may well be going.
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