Cover image for How to speak money : what the money people say-- and what it really means
Title:
How to speak money : what the money people say-- and what it really means
Author:
Lanchester, John, author.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.
Physical Description:
xv, 268 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Summary:
Discusses how the world of finance and economics really works, from the terms and conditions of personal checking accounts to the deliberate concealments of bankers, and explains hundreds of common economic terms.
Language:
English
Contents:
Language of money -- A lexicon of money.
ISBN:
9780393243376
Format :
Book

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Audubon Library HB62 .L36 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

To those who don't speak it, the language of money can seem impenetrable and its ideas too complex to grasp. In How to Speak Money, John Lanchester--author of the New York Times best-selling book on the financial crisis, I.O.U.--bridges the gap between the money people and the rest of us.

With characteristic wit and candor, Lanchester reveals how the world of finance really works: from the terms and conditions of your personal checking account to the evasions of bankers appearing in front of Congress. As Lanchester writes, we need to understand what the money people are talking about so that those who speak the language don't just write the rules for themselves.

Lanchester explains more than 300 words and phrases from "AAA rating" and "amortization" to "yield curve" and "zombie bank." He covers things we say or hear every day--such as GDP, the IMF, credit, debt, equity, and inflation--and explains how hedge funds work, what the World Bank does, and why the language of money has gotten so complicated. Along the way he draws on everything from John Maynard Keynes to the Wu-Tang Clan, Friedrich Hayek to Thomas Piketty, The Wealth of Nations to Game of Thrones.

A primer, a polemic, and a reference book, How to Speak Money makes economics understandable to anyone. After all, "money," as Lanchester writes, "is a lot like babies, and once you know the language, the rule is the same as that put forward by Dr. Spock: 'Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.'"


Author Notes

John Lanchester was the deputy editor of the London Review of Books and the restaurant critic for the London Observer.

He is the author of a second novel, Mr. Phillips, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker.

He lives in London.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Lanchester reports that there is a huge gap between people who understand money and economics and those who don't, suggesting this didn't matter until the financial debacle of 2008, when so many people got hurt. We learn the language of money can be used to hide the facts and mislead. The author wants us to recognize the economic forces behind the surface realities of life and gives readers tools to listen or read about economic news, understand the issues, and form an opinion. He devotes the bulk of his book to explaining with understandable words hundreds of commonly used economic terms, such as inflation: When money loses value over time, prices gradually go up and this is normal in economic life; deflation: When money gains value over time, prices go down with near-fatal consequences for an economy; and risk, which economists use to describe the mathematical likelihood of a specific outcome. This excellent primer for understanding money would be a helpful resource for many library patrons.--Whaley, Mary Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Novelist (Capital) and New Yorker contributor Lanchester offers a terrific primer on financial jargon. Lanchester believes that ordinary people are perfectly capable of understanding the arcs of macroeconomics and managing their own microeconomic decisions-they only need to learn the basic lingua franca. Lanchester's glossary cleverly illustrates arbitrage by way of cocoa futures, explains what a lender of last resort is, and helpfully defines terms such as "yield curve." Along the way, Lanchester throws in entertaining asides: for instance, he explains how the lexicographer who oversaw the Oxford English Dictionary felt about the word "monetarism." There are intriguing cultural byways, such as the plug for the "highly illuminating and not-at-all dated 1940 book Where are the Customers' Yachts? and a useful distinction between "wealthy" and "rich." The book's structure could be improved; it would be helpful if, within a definition, any words that have their own entries earlier or later in the book appeared in bold or italics. But that is a small quibble. Anyone who wants to understand the nightly news should keep this volume at hand. Agent: Caradoc King, A.P. Watt (U.K.) (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

Erroneous newscasts and faulty conversations about money matters prompted Lanchester, a London-based financial writer, to create this unconventional, readable introduction to jargon peculiar to the language of finance and economics. The core of his book is a glossary containing about 300 terms pertaining to monetary instruments and institutions commonly used by those involved in financial enterprises and by academicians when describing and interpreting past, present, and future financial events. The terms, presented in alphabetical order, range from "AAA rating" to "zombie bank." An introductory section preceding the glossary is where Lancaster prepares readers for the material about to be presented and notes characteristics common to all the terms, such as their neutrality with respect to moral judgments, the use of familiar words in unfamiliar ways, and the variability in economic relationships. An afterword following the glossary identifies areas of recent economic progress and issues to address. This entertaining, informative, useful reference, written in a lively style, is suitable for both practitioners and newcomers to the subject of economics. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --Edward Leonard Whalen, Clarke College


Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
Part I The Language of Moneyp. 1
Part II A Lexicon of Moneyp. 63
Afterwordp. 231
Acknowledgmentsp. 257
Further Readingsp. 259
Notesp. 263

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