Books

Newly Relevant: Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It

Louis Brandeis’s Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It, published in 1914, is eerily applicable to the financial quagmire today. The book is a collection of essays focused on the House of Representatives’ revelations that J.P. Morgan and other big banks were preying on the public, and that bank executives were corrupt. And the book influenced policy: Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom agdena, and FDR's New Deal. Woodrow Wilson even called Brandeis in to help draft bills crucial to the New Freedom agenda, which established rules of fair competition and limited the bank’s control. But, believe it or not, the banks found a way around it. “‘Other People’s Money’ can help us navigate the new era of regulation that we are likely to enter,” wrote Melvin I. Urofsky in an op-ed in the New York Times. “It would be wise for Mr. Obama to heed Brandeis’s advice before imposing stricter rules on banking and the stock market.” The book was brought back into print and distributed cheaply after the Great Depression, and it looks like we might need it again.