Rainbow's End tells the story of the stock market collapse in a colorful, swift-moving narrative that blends a vivid portrait of the 1920s with an intensely gripping account of Wall Street's greatest catastrophe. The book offers a vibrant picture of a world full of plungers, powerful bankers, corporate titans, millionaire brokers, and buoyantly optimistic stock market bulls. We meet Sunshine Charley Mitchell, head of the National City Bank, powerful financiers Jack Morgan and Jacob Schiff, Wall Street manipulators such as the legendary Jesse Livermore, and the lavish-living Billy Durant, founder of General Motors. As Klein follows the careers of these men, he shows us how the financial house of cards gradually grew taller, as the irrational exuberance of an earlier age gripped America and convinced us that the market would continue to rise forever. Then, in October 1929, came a "perfect storm"-like convergence of factors that shook Wall Street to its foundations. We relive Black Thursday, when police lined Wall Street, brokers grew hysterical, customers "bellowed like lunatics," and the ticker tape fell hours behind. This compelling history of the Crash--the first to follow the market closely for the two years leading up to the disaster--illuminates a major turning point in our history.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press|
|Series:||Pivotal Moments in American History|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Shifts in American Psychology during 1918-30 As someone who is interested in economics, financial markets, and business, the stock market crash of 1929-1932 has always grabbed my attention in those terms. As a result, my favorite book on the events leading up to the stock market melt down is John Kenneth Galbraith¿s famous book, The Great Crash 1929. Having recently reread that book to contemplate the stock market melt down of 1999-?, I was interested to see what lessons could be drawn from that experience to this one from reading this book. As a work of psychological history, Professor Klein was hampered by the lack of survey and sentiment indices. As a result, he relies a great deal on what prominent people had to say and what they did. As a result, the bulk of the material repeats what Galbraith covered. To this material are added thoughtful observations about trends in popular expenditures for automobiles, interest in sports (especially baseball), fads (such as flag-pole sitting), modern marketing (including advertising through movies and radio), and the acceptance of installment purchasing. He picks up a number of individuals who represent different ¿types¿ who experienced the stock market crash, to help us see how the effects varied from person to person. Groucho Marx saw himself lose money he could regain through future earnings, while others saw themselves wiped out for all time. Both Charley Mitchell (no relation) of National City Bank and Jesse Livermore provide cautionary tales. I was fascinated by Professor Klein¿s thoughts about how Herbert Hoover was caught in a dilemma between his desire to help and his strong feeling that government should be kept small. This notion of focusing on the psychological change though would apply much better to the Great Depression itself than to the stock market crash. Since I was a child, many people have told me about how the Depression changed their outlook on life. Whenever I asked them about the stock market crash as a cause of a changed perspective, they said it had no impact. As Professor Galbraith points out, the number of stock investors was less than 2 million in those days. The stock market crash was a background event for most people, albeit an important one since a very high percentage of consumer spending was done by the wealthiest people, as Professor Galbraith points out. Ultimately, this history has too little economic, financial, and business perspective to fully capture what this event means. I suspect that it will not be widely read, even though the information and the analysis are perfectly fine as far as they go. How can we modulate the swings in investment emotion that cause markets to rise too high . . . and fall too low? What will we lose if we do? Donald Mitchell, co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise
I am not a specialist in finance or financial history, just interested in the 1920s. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rainbow's End actually covered much more than the Crash; it amounts to a financial and cultural history of the US over the decade leading up to 1929. The author does a great job explaining in simple terms enough of the complicated financial transactions involved in creating the (apparent) prosperity of the 1920s to make the story fully intelligible. I was most struck by how similar the situation by the late 1920s is to the post-Enron situation today: dubious accounting practices involving holding companies and subsidiaries, banks pushing investments they were underwriting, insider trading, brokers knowingly hawking overvalued or even worthless stocks and securities, politicians refusing to act on the principle of laissez--faire, other politicians holding forth on subjects on which they had no expertise, media hype, backroom deals, extremely complicated deals, corporate takeovers, extension of excessive credit used both for investment and for boosting purchases of consumer goods, bail-outs, embezzlement, media collusion, exploitation of the most up-to-date technologies to sustain stock-buying frenzies, a few bigwigs getting rich on the backs of lots of little people, etc., need I go on? A number of the quotations that make the text vivid can be found repeated almost verbatim by politicians and pundits in today's news media. Although this book will probably not satisfy the specialist historian, it is likely to fascinate anyone interested in modern history or finance. If you have money invested these days in stocks, bonds, or real estate, this book is a 'must-read.'