Title: The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire
Author: Neil Irwin
The book, by a Washington Post columnist, focuses on central banking and the roles of three on the current crises: Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, Mervyn King of the Bank of England, and Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank. The first 100 or so pages is a quick history of central banking, starting with Banco Stockholms in the 1650s. The subprime meltdown is dealt with quickly, with a focus on Bernanke. The second half of the book covers the European crisis beginning with Greece and spreading to the remaining PIIGS. Here, Trichet played the major role (then his successor Mario Draghi, who was actually more aggressive and probably more effective).
Typical of books by journalists, it covers a lot about the players’ motivations, private lives, politics and so on, just more than I want to know. The underlying decisions and impact somehow get buried in the analysis.