Jack Cashill chronicles credit and debt throughout history in his book Popes and Bankers: A Cultural History of Credit & Debt, from Aristotle to AIG. Cashill gives perspective to major worldwide financial events leading to our current financial crisis. The author peppers this book with pertinent tales that bring the seemingly unrelated events of the past together that ultimately paved the road to ruin.
The author tackles usury from its religious perspectives amongst the Jewish people and culturally as told in the Merchant of Venice. He shows us how consumers, who once disdained debt, were romanced into embracing credit as a way of life. Cashill also shows that when the moral constraints against credit default swaps, Ponzi schemes and usury evaporated culturally, nothing remained to prevent people from doing the things they could get away with in the name of profit. America was led willingly by their individual greed closer to the financial cliff called economic collapse. This book culminates in illuminating the significance of the past as it applies to Wall Street today.
It is a slow read, but the content is well worth it for those interested in finding the answer to how did we get to a place in America where companies are too big to fail and bailouts are now commonplace. His scholarly style doesn’t grab me the between the ears with the irresistible desire to turn the page. However, the pace picks up as you approach the end when the snippets of financial history finally come together. There are extensive references that support the history as told in these pages. I will keep Popes and Bankers on my reference shelf and recommend it for students of history.
God Bless America!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”