Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse Hardcover – 24 Jan 2008


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£7.75 £1.70


Product details

  • Hardcover: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books; 1st Edition edition (24 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670018414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670018413
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16.5 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,225,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The collapse, long expected, came suddenly. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 April 2009
Format: Paperback
Andrew Dexter Jr. is the villain of historian Jane Kamensky's book on America's first bank failure, which occurred in the early 1800s. He used worthless banknotes to finance construction of Boston's Exchange Coffee House, at seven stories then America's tallest building. In the process, he financially ruined hundreds of laborers who worked on the project. By the time they learned that his banknotes were bogus, Dexter was long gone. Kamensky deftly tells his tale with fascinating detail and little-known facts. In brilliant writing she traces the rise of "speculative capitalism." She offers the bittersweet saga of a man with little conscience and big dreams he never fulfilled. getAbstract finds that her book compellingly depicts America's early financial history - and, perhaps, one facet of its emerging fiscal personality - through the tale of this colorful charlatan.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.5 stars-Speculation leads to widespread destruction 20 July 2008
By Michael Emmett Brady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Kamensky has done an excellent job in this book.The book is a detailed study of the events leading up to the first bank failure in American history.In March,1809,the Farmers Exchange Bank of Gloucester,Rhode Island,collapsed.The story starts in late 1807 as a real estate speculator named Andrew Dexter,Jr.,is able to convincingly persuade many investors to financially back his Exchange Coffee House,a gigantic seven story building which will supposedly allow financial and commercial interests to conduct their business affairs in comfort and style, with easy access to other members of the Boston financial community ,instead of haphazard meetings spread out over a number of different street corners.At this point in time the failure of Dexter's speculative " house of cards " would have had a relatively small impact.It is here that Dexter is able to use the completed but practically empty building as collateral to buy a controlling interest in a number of banks.He then used the banks currency creation power to further leverage his own speculations.Dexter's banks did not have anywhere near the necessary required reserves in gold and silver.Suspicious merchants finally started taking the notes in to redeem them for the claimed metallic backing.It was soon realized that there was no such backing.The collapse of Dexter's speculative endeavor now led to a panic and crash that severely impacted businesses that had accepted the now worthless bank notes as payment.

The most important part of the book is an implicit generalization that can be universally observed in all speculative bubbles.In order for the bubble to grow and cause great damage in the future when it deflates,bankers must extend credit to the speculators ,allowing them to leverage their own precarious debt position many times over.Without banker complicity(many times the bankers themselves begin to engage in speculative behavior,compounding the damages already done through their loan committments to speculators in the first place)the speculative bubble can't grow.

I have deducted one half of a star because the author is not aware of the extensive warnings made by Adam Smith ,in 1776 in his The Wealth of Nations,about the extreme dangers to economic growth and welfare if bankers are allowed to make loans to speculators.Smith's conclusion,that the savings will be wasted and destroyed,is as true today,as we witness the destruction being wrought by the banker financed and directed sub prime mortgage backed bonds fiasco.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
exchange artist 30 April 2008
By W. Berry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Very interesting story and a nice piece of Boston and US history. The author has covered this event well. In some cases she uses an affected present tense when referring to historical events - can make reading a bit confusing until you get used to it. But the insights on the history of banking and the rise of paper money are fascinating.
Lively history of an original con man 27 April 2009
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Andrew Dexter Jr. is the villain of historian Jane Kamensky's book on America's first bank failure, which occurred in the early 1800s. He used worthless banknotes to finance construction of Boston's Exchange Coffee House, at seven stories then America's tallest building. In the process, he financially ruined hundreds of laborers who worked on the project. By the time they learned that his banknotes were bogus, Dexter was long gone. Kamensky deftly tells his tale with fascinating detail and little-known facts. In brilliant writing she traces the rise of "speculative capitalism." She offers the bittersweet saga of a man with little conscience and big dreams he never fulfilled. getAbstract finds that her book compellingly depicts America's early financial history - and, perhaps, one facet of its emerging fiscal personality - through the tale of this colorful charlatan.
Excellent! 26 Feb 2014
By Neil J. Lehto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great story focusing on an unbelieveable post-Revoluntionary War banking scam. Professor Kamensky writes with a style closer to Hunter Thompson than Doris Kearns Goodwin. Well-researched with plentiful notes.
The more things change... 22 May 2011
By Phil Mackey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Financial operations known as pyramid schemes have been around a long time. For example, the audacious South Seas and Mississippi Bubbles of 1719-20 long predates Charles Ponzi's famous scheme of 1920, not to mention the United States itself. But it is always fascinating that the old adage "the more things change, the more they stay the same" seems to remain in force when it comes to pyramid schemes.

"The Exchange Artist" by Jane Kamensky tells the story of one Andrew Dexter, Jr., who in the first decade of the 19th century, operated was is considered the first speculative pyramid scheme in the United States and the strucure erected by the scheme, the Exchange Coffee House in Boston. Kamensky follows the life of Dexter from a brief overview of his forebears and early life, his rise within Boston's merchant and banking community, his fascination with the power of paper money, the rise and collapse in 1809 of his scheme to erect the Exchange Coffee House and finally his life afterwards, centered about his land speculation schemes in Alabama. Kamensky also follows the history of the Exchange Coffee House, intended to be the hub of Boston's business community but was instead became a massive white elephant. Even its fiery end in 1818 threatened the city of Boston itself.

Although the hook to persuade one to read "The Exchange Artist" is its parallels to the financial shenanigans that have occurred in the United States since the late 1990s, the Enron collapse in particular, Jane Kamensky's narrative is well written and highly entertaining and is one that stands up well on its own merits. America was and still is a land of dreamers and as long as that is true, the story of "The Exchange Artist" will repeat itself. This reviewer believes that "The Exchange Artist" is a worthy addition to anyone's library.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback