Bank of England

How Alexander Hamilton and a Swiss anti-Federalist created our country's capitalist system.

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If you haven’t been following that other British scandal—not Murdoch, but the interest-rate scandal that made heads roll at Barclays—then you really should be. As Matt Taibbi explains, it’s a neutron-bomb of a revelation that’s caused even hardened cynics to rethink their assumptions about the banking system.

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Running a major central bank is never a particularly easy job. An enormous amount of pressure—the weight of an entire economy—is riding on you. Among your major responsibilities is the job of stomping on an economy when it begins to run too hot, generating economic weakness to defang inflation. You’re rarely given credit for your successes and often blamed for problems of others’ making. Yet most central bankers have it easy compared to Mario Draghi, who last week assumed the job of President of the European Central Bank. Draghi’s situation could scarcely be more difficult.

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Goodbye to Berlin

In early February, the top financial officials of seven major industrialized countries gathered in Canada to mull the state of the world economy. To grease their interactions, the Canadians had created an intimate setting in Iqaluit, an Inuit town near the Arctic Circle. A planning document waxed on about fireside chats at a cozy inn and decreed that the attire would be casual.

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The Old Way

High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg   By Niall Ferguson (The Penguin Press, 548 pp., $35) If one object of reading is to make ourselves at home in the world, or at least to diminish its somewhat minatory strangeness, then we should now be demanding very many books about banks and bankers.

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The Old Way

High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg By Niall Ferguson (The Penguin Press, 548 pp., $35) If one object of reading is to make ourselves at home in the world, or at least to diminish its somewhat minatory strangeness, then we should now be demanding very many books about banks and bankers.

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Shooting Banks

Simon Johnson and Peter Boone: Obama's impotent assault on Wall Street.

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Double Down

Otherwise-obscure central bankers spent an unprecedented amount of time in the global limelight last year. As the crisis brought down not only banking behemoths, but also macroeconomic axioms, the expansionary measures enacted by the Fed’s Ben Bernanke, the European Central Bank’s Jean-Claude Trichet, and the Bank of England’s Mervyn King have been credited, at least for now, with preventing a second coming of the Great Depression.

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Senator David Vitter submitted one of my questions to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as part of his reconfirmation hearings, and received the following reply in writing (as already published in the WSJ online): Q. Simon Johnson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and blogger: Andrew Haldane, head of financial stability at the Bank of England, argues that the relationship between the banking system and the government (in the U.K.

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Feudal Lords of Finance

In some influential circles, these questions are now asked: What’s wrong with high levels of inequality in general, and with having very rich bankers in particular? After all, human societies have survived the presence of extremely wealthy individuals in the past--in fact, some now argue, the presence of such a “new aristocracy” can finance growth and spur innovation. This argument is deeply flawed along three dimensions. (1) Such super-elites care very little for anyone other than themselves. Certainly, there will be some charity--but remember that John D.

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