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on 20 November 2011
October 27, 2011 ' It was my good fortune to receive an advance copy of Jim Rickards' new book, Currency Wars. It is a great book, and I highly recommend it.

The book is split into three parts, with the first part being almost surreal because it reads more like a novel than non-fiction. It details Rickards participation in an exercise at the Warfare Analysis Laboratory near Washington D.C. This group is one of the Defense Department's leading venues for war games and strategic planning, but in a first-ever event, the game in which Rickards joined was not a war-fighting simulation. Rather, several dozen people from the military, academic and intelligence communities fought a global financial war using currencies and capital markets to support national interests. Rickards and two colleagues were invited to give the simulation some real-world, Wall Street expertise about markets, which they certainly did.

I guarantee that when you start reading this part, you won't put the book down until you learn the outcome of the war. It reads better than a suspense novel, even though the ending is somewhat anti-climactic and predictable. While I won't spoil it for you by divulging the ending, I will note that gold has a big role to play. In fact, gold reappears throughout the whole book.

In the second section, Rickards analyzes the first two currency wars (CWI and CWII). He provides an interesting historical account of the global monetary twists and turns, ups and downs that marked much of the twentieth century, with keen insight into the motivations why these currency wars were fought. CWI lasted from 1921 to 1936. Even though CWII came much later from 1967 to 1987 both wars were fought by competing national interests, which brought into the battle competitive devaluations and other interventionist actions of government. It is noteworthy that currency wars are a product of the post-Classical Gold Standard period that began in the aftermath of World War I, when the monetary role of government began to morph, as gold was driven out of day-to-day circulation, and then expand in new ways never before seen.

The final section of the book explains why the world is now fighting Currency War III, which Rickards believes began in 2010. He speculates that there are three possible outcomes from CWIII paper, gold or chaos. Each of these alternatives is analyzed in detail, providing readers with much food for thought.

It has been said that book reviews are supposed to include something critical. Nevertheless, I have nothing negative to say about Currency Wars. It is a great book, and you will not be disappointed with it. But I do have one important thought to keep in mind as you read it.

US real income and living standards peaked in early-1973, less than two years after President Nixon closed the gold window. As their closeness in time suggests, these two events are interconnected. The world's financial system experienced a profound change from the edicts of Mr. Nixon's pen, with the consequence that private enterprise was negatively impacted.

The harmful effects from abandoning gold still impair economic activity today because the necessary discipline has been removed from the monetary system, creating the global imbalances, debt loads, insolvent banks, risky derivatives and other problems that plague our world. So as economic activity sinks ever deeper into an abyss, think about the cause. Namely, governments have created this mess, so we cannot rationally expect governments to get us out of it, which is something I have intuitively understood for some time but was also the main conclusion I reached from Rickards book. Whether Rickards intended readers to reach that viewpoint, I am not sure. Nevertheless, it is clear to me, the answers and the direction we need so urgently now to avoid falling further into the abyss will not come from government, but rather from private enterprise and hard work, the source of all solutions, and indeed all wealth.

My point is that money should not be a weapon used to fight perceived national interests. We have learned from the last century that currency wars can lead to shooting wars. The Warfare Analysis Laboratory hopefully recognizes that reality. So the role of providing currency should instead be returned to where it rightfully belongs with private enterprise. The logic for doing so is simple and straightforward.

Aside from the fact that war is a product of government and not private enterprise, governments do not have bottom-line accountability. In contrast, if companies do not deliver a product or service that people want, they go out of business. Governments, however, do not close up shop and disappear, even when the outcome they create is horrific. So in my view, the sooner this incontestable tenet is recognized, the sooner we will reach the end of CWIII, and thereby avoid another global shooting war.

The Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit from It: Make a Fortune by Investing in Gold and Other Hard Assets
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on 10 June 2013
A truly extraordinary book that opens the door of truth on the money systems of the past 150 years - and how they've succeeded and failed.

Forget right- or left-wing bias, what this book does is take you into the world of money and economics, the truly gobsmacking mistakes made by so-called intelligent leaders and how the current situation of unsustainable debt (the West) and huge sovereign wealth funds (the East) will play out. The author reveals in clear and highly readable language what caused the tragedy of the Great Depression, the growth times of the 1950s and 1960s, followed by increasing levels of debt as one government after another made monumental errors. LBJ and Nixon do not look good, de Gaulle looks seriously smart, Churchill's greatest error was as Chancellor in the early 1920s, and so on.

Above all, Rickards lays out in the clearest possible terms where the world is headed if nothing is done to arrest and correct the situation. He explains why gold has to be at the core of that - his challenge, the fact that economists the world over are dedicated Keynesians with policies to perpetuate the tradegy. Read it if you dare - I couldn't put it down.
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on 9 January 2012
James Rickards is one of the most intelligent analysts in the world today, he is never prone to hyperbole or rhetoric, which is a common trait (trend even) of some economic essayists blogging and publishing today.
Clearly James Rickards is well thought of enough to be included in US govt Economic War games, and his story of being involved in just such an event makes fascinating reading.
The central section of the book detailing the three currency wars, (1921-36,1967-87,2010-),
is the most detailed and interesting, it really adds to the cannon of currency study. And as such, would in my eyes, sit alongside Murray N Rothbard's, "What has Government done to our money" and Ferdinand Lips "Gold Wars".
What of-course makes the work more than just an historical reflection, is it's ability to incorporate the economic disasters of central banks and their masters since 2008. In an economic landscape that Ludwig Von Mises could never have imagined in his worst nightmare, James Rickards brings us up to date, with some helpful ideas that we can only hope the politicians and their economic lackeys implement sooner rather than too late.
A stirring book that doesn't avoid the complexity of currency manipulation, but rather, draws the reader into a ripping morbid adventure. And that makes it quite special.
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on 19 June 2012
This is an essential read for anyone with an interest in understanding and being better prepared to deal with the current global financial crisis. Written by an author who clearly has immense knowledge and experience in his field, you are taken through a modern history of monetary and policy interventions and their outcomes and also an interdiciplinary and systemic discourse of possible future scenarios. I consider myself to be reasonably literate in Finance and Economics, but reading this book has really helped to synthesise some key concepts and flesh out the big picture of what is going on in the world today. To quote a rather famous old movie, 'like being shot between the eyes with a Diamond bullet'.

In terms of Vendor service & delivery, the book arrived much sooner than promised and it was hardcover when I thought I was getting paperback. Cool.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 November 2011
The first two chapters may appear like a fantasy story about countries engaging in war games using their national currencies as weapons. Rickards quickly move into the history of the real currency wars (three, since 1921 and the third beginning in 2010). The "military" manoeuvres seem complex because the hardware does not consist of bombs or bullets but paper currencies. At the bottom of it all is the question of national wealth and the its connection with the individual wealth of its citizens. That's partly what makes it all complicated. National wealth depends on its GDP and that depends partly on the ability of its citizens to consume and produce. When there is an imbalance (in international trade) there is no money to pay for imports. debts rise. The debtor nations can call on the debts (worst case scenario). Classic defensive responses is to inflate faster than deflation caused by trade deficits because if it can't, and the creditor comes calling, the scenario painted by Rickards is that of Chinese ships arriving at US ports to collect the gold that the USA had stored in Fort Knox and West Point, and ship them all away. By that time, the paper currency system would have collapsed and the USA would also have lost its solid gold. In other words, it will be flat broke. That is why severe and drastic moves are underfoot to prevent the collapse of the paper (fiat) currencies. Not just the US dollar but the Euro dollar as well. So to pay off debts, the US traditional response has been to lower interest rates to deflect acquisition of US dollars. Interest rates are down to zero. The Fed is out of ammo on this front. The only other move is to print more money, "Quantitative easing" (lovely name for a double-edged sword). It's not that simple. China counters by devaluing it's Yuan. So what is the end game? It's not clear but Rickards sets out the scenarios in his final chapter. If paper currency cannot be saved (there is a very real danger of that eventuality) the world may revert to a new Gold standard - or descend into chaos. That explains why gold prices shot from less than $100 to $1,000 and climbing. There will be leadership changes in the USA and China in 2012. The citizens have to vote wisely for a wise leader in the respective countries. But Rickards points out in this book that the currency wars will be fought in many theaters all over the world, it is not just USA vs China.
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on 15 October 2012
I read this book in a little over a week. It's my fourth book on the subject of global turmoil (I've also read Harry S Dent, Peter Schiff etc) over recent months. I found it very insightful, thoughtfully presented and simple yet comprehensive. Rickards explains in some detail the history of currency manipulation and the way the movement has moved from local to global (hence the implications of a collapse grow by the day. My favourite chapter was the last chapter 'End game' and I was absorbed by the possible outcomes. All in all a terrific book.
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on 15 December 2011
I bought this book after rave reviews on KingworldNews.
The first two chapters are interesting in their financial war context, but are not a smooth read. Subsequent chapters seem better written. WHy do I find the book a little disappointing? Well, there is not a single reference to the effects of Fractional Reserve Banking which is the true underlying cause of our boom and bust business cycles, and Rickards failure to weave this into the story really undermines the whole book for me. I even bought extra copies as gifts on the basis of other reviews, but really think that the book leaves a lot of the real currency war story untold. Maybe that's OK in the context of most decision makers in this story also probably being oblivious to the real cause of our global financial problems.
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on 11 September 2013
James Rickards mind opening book reveals in one easily accessible volume the International function and Geo-political implications of fiat money. The book challenges contemporary Neo-Classical theory on the role, function and importance of currency.

To the uninitiated there is only one kind of debt, arising from individuals or organizations borrowing money from each other, yet there is another entirely different kind of debt, a debt between economic or currency regions, known as a balance of payment. In simple terms, when a country imports more than it exports, it relies on another country/region to do the work whilst it receives the benefit, this shows up in its balance of payments as a negative trade balance, i.e. the country now owes a certain amount of its currency to the surplus country. In the not so recent past, such imbalances were addressed through various Gold Standard Systems. Today we are told no such controls are necessary. For some countries this works just fine, notably the United States and Britain, but for the majority of countries it is a route to disaster, as they inevitably experience a run on their currency and need to ask the IMF and other International institutions to provide funds to bridge their balance of payments gap. We all know what happens then!

How much currency can a country create, and to what extent will this currency retain its relative value. This seems to be an interesting question.

"Currency Wars" sets out the historical changes to the International monetary system leading up to the present day. It reveals its weaknesses and speculates as to its future. It is certain that one-day change will come and the dominant world powers will need to find ways to stay competitive without relying on the dominance of their currencies and the power of their armies. The question remains, when it all comes crashing down, will it happen slowly or all of a sudden.
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on 27 July 2012
This is the greatest book ever written by a fantastic man.

The book explains how the financial system will collapse and how GOLD is the only thing that will protect your wealth in the end.

Read it
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on 7 June 2013
Currency Wars is without a shadow a doubt both a scholarly and imaginitive work. Rickards touches on a much discussed theme in modern economics, the increasing stress and viability of the dollar. In some ways this work is similar to Barry Eichengreen's Exorbitant Privilege, however Rickards looks at a more global scale of currency collapses, and provides both historical precedents, and possible scenarios in which the dollar could collapse.
Additionally, the book contains some decent critiques of economic schools of thought, such as Keynesianism, Monetarism, and Financial Economics, as well as a decent critique of complexity theory. While not simply an economic text book, Rickards provides his own critique and insights to the strength and failings of these approaches.
Currency Wars provides a decent history of monetary policy, and an ample divination of what could come if decent policy is not implemented, and mistakes of the past are not learned from.
The only criticism I have of Currency Wars is the opening. The war games introduction is too wordy, and filled with details that the readers of the book did not intend to read.
On the whole, an excellent and thought provoking book. More suited for those already familiar with economics, but accessible to all provided it is read carefully and terms are referenced.
I can only hope that this finds its way onto the desks of Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama.
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