Skip to main content

Fortune Tellers

I have just finished reading Fortune Tellers: The Story of America's First Economic Forecasters by HBS's Walter Friedman. Friedman's book is a series of fascinating biographical accounts of the leading forecasters in the first three decades of the twentieth century – Roger Babson (see video clip below); Yale economist Irving Fisher; John Moody; Charles J. Bullock and Warren Persons, who led the Harvard Economic Service; and economist and NBER founder Wesley Mitchell along with politician Herbert Hoover, who both saw economic forecasting as a public good, which should be provided by government agencies.

This is one of the best books which I have read over the last number of years.  It is very readable and exceptionally thought provoking. Anyone with any interest in economics, investing or forecasting would profit from reading it.


Popular posts from this blog

The Failure of Herstatt Bank

As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of

Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles

Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Bubbles, co-authored with my colleague Will Quinn , is forthcoming in August. It is published by Cambridge University Press and is available for pre-order at Amazon , Barnes and Noble , Waterstones and Cambridge University Press . 

The Great Depression

Marginal Revolution University has a great video on the Great Depression.