Edward Chancellor

The Price of Time
  • The Price of Time

  • Capitalism and interest are inseparable, yet over the centuries whenever interest rates have collapsed and money was too easy, financial markets have become unstable. In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, interest rates have sunk lower than at any time in the five millennia since they were first recorded. In an unprecedented move, negative interest rates were introduced in Europe and Japan, causing trillions of dollars' worth of bonds to trade at negative yields. Monetary policymakers appear blithe to the unintended consequences of their actions. Yet given the essential function of interest in determining how capital is allocated and priced, and its role in regulating financial risk, it is not clear that capitalism can thrive or even survive under these conditions.

    With clarity and precision, Edward Chancellor traces the history of interest from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia, through debates about usury in Restoration Britain and John Law's ill-fated Mississippi scheme to the global credit booms of the twentieth century. The Price of Time reveals how extremely low interest rates not only create asset price inflation but are also largely responsible for the weak economic growth, rising inequality, elevated debt levels, and pensions crises that have afflicted Western economies in recent years. At the same time, easy money in China has inflated an epic real estate bubble, accompanied by the greatest credit and investment boom in history. The global financial system is edging closer to yet another devastating crisis.

Edward Chancellor is the author of Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation which has been translated into more than half a dozen languages and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. After reading history at Cambridge and Oxford, he worked for Lazard Brothers in the early 1990s and until 2014 he was a senior member of the asset allocation team at the Boston investment firm, GMO. He is currently a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews and has contributed to many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, MoneyWeek and the New York Review of Books. In 2008, Edward received the George Polk Award for financial reporting for his article "Ponzi Nation" in Institutional Investor magazine.

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