Guide The Money Gods

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A comprehensive examination of the continually changing world of money, economic theory, and how we got things so wrong in the run-up the recession—and how we can rebuild confidence for our financial future. Imagine one day you went to a cash machine and found your money was gone. You rushed to your bank branch, where a teller said that overnight people had stopped believing in money, and it all vanished. It happened, and it could happen again.


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  • Twilight of the Money Gods – Economics as a Religion and How it all Went Wrong by John Rapley.
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Twilight of the Money Gods is the story of economics, told not as the science it strove to be, but as the religion it became. Over two centuries, it searched for the hidden codes which would reveal the path to a promised land of material abundance. In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis and the Great Recession many of us wonder "What could they have been thinking? Rapley writes to provide not just what, but how and why and makes clear this thinking goes way back.

Along the way he provides a brief readable economic history which includes a history of economic thought and thinkers which spans the age of Gutenberg to Trump.

Twilight of the Money Gods

Any book covering this much territory is either going to be idiosyncratic or deeply dull, so I am glad to report idiosyncracy. This is not an experts only book. There are footnotes for the curious and no equations even there. This is a very worthwhile book, but it did disappoint me in several ways. First, I was really hoping for a more detailed History of Economic Thought-- many readers might not.

Second perhaps related , I do rebel at the notion it is all about irreconcilable religions and really only two of them. Once upon a time Alchemy and Chemistry were competing religions but too much lead and not enough gold--evidence--settled that.

Twilight of the Money Gods: Economics as a Religion and How it all Went Wrong by John Rapley

I expect the Alchemists also attempted counter revolution. John Rapley has produced an interesting history of economics which has reinforced my own perceptions and has also made me rethink other long-held opinions. Dr Rapley has an engaging writing style which makes the book easy to read and hard to put down. This is one of those books that beg the question, why did the author write it? He seems to be a bright guy who knows a little about a lot of things, and has read some popular works on history and economics.

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His accounts of these things range from intriguing to boilerplate speechifying with no discernible content. But my main objection is not the unevenness of the material, it's that it doesn't fit together. It certainly doesn't make a case that economics is a religion, or that it went wrong, or that professional economists are money gods or are facing twilight. As best I can tell, and I admit to guessing, there are three reasons the author compares economics to religion.

It is central to modern life, most people have only vague and faulty intuition about it, and economic experts are more like priests seeking respect and power than scientists uncovering truth. I'm willing to grant some force to each of those points of similarity, although I am nowhere near as certain as the author seems to be. But for the analogy to be useful, it has to illustrate other aspects of economics that are non-obvious, that we can only see by considering the comparison to religion.

I can't find any attempt to do this.


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  7. The author is content to observe three correspondences and claim he's made a useful point. I could say the same three things about fashion, politics or nutrition among many other things.

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    The best part of this book is when the author forgets about his main point and tells some stories about history or economic theory. Many of these make excellent stand-alone essays. The exposition is strong, the argument weak. Moreover the style is graceful when telling stories, pedestrian and patronizing when teaching.

    Economics as a Religion and How it all Went Wrong

    Mammon is the god of material things. The word Mammon comes into English from post-classical Latin mammona 'wealth', used most importantly in the Vulgate Bible along with Tertullian's mammonas and pseudo-Jerome's mammon. The Liddell and Scott Lexicon [14] has a listing for each spelling, indicating that each occurs only in the New Testament, nowhere else in ancient and Hellenistic Greek literature.

    Christians began to use mammon as a pejorative , a term that was used to describe gluttony, excessive materialism, greed, and unjust worldly gain.

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    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Early mentions of mammon allude to the Gospels , e. Gregory of Nyssa also asserted that Mammon was another name for Beelzebub.

    In the 4th century Cyprian and Jerome relate mammon to greed and greed as an evil master that enslaves, and John Chrysostom even personifies mammon as greed. During the Middle Ages , Mammon was commonly personified as the demon of wealth and greed. Thus Peter Lombard II, dist. Nicholas de Lyra , commenting on the passage in Luke, says: