Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order” as Want to Read:
Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  231 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Winner of the Spear's Best Business Book Award

Longlisted for the 2012 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award

For the past forty years western economies have splurged on debt. Now, as the reality dawns that many debts cannot be repaid, we find ourselves again in crisis. But the oncoming defaults have a time-worn place in our economic history. As wi...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by PublicAffairs (first published December 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Paper Promises, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Paper Promises

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 630)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Abi Rhodes
On all British bank notes from £5 to £50 the words ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of …’ still appear. In eighteen-century Europe an experiment with paper money was begun by John Law, a Scottish mathematician and gambler, who moved to France toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The monarchy of France was, at this time, verging on bankruptcy and, as the successor to the King was still only an infant, the duc d’Orléans held the reins. John Law suggested to him that the creation...more

A very readable history of debt and money in a journalistic style that doesn't feature ranting, blaming the 'idle' poor, blaming the 'parasite' rich, shadowy international cabals of super criminals or any of of the weird and not at all wonderful theories that seem to be used to avoid asking questions like: why did we let our (Western) Governments get so amazingly in debt. Some of the suggested answers here may well surprise the uninitiated.

So if you're looking for someone to lynch, rich or poor...more
Robert Bor
Another book on economics in general and debt in particular. This one is from an author who also writes for the Economist. And it shows. In a good way. The story is very readable and well-constructed. It shows how we moved from bartering, metal, the gold standard, Bretton Woods, to the dollar standard. The author describes debt as basically a struggle between creditor and debtor and, if seen this way, how it clarifies debt struggles throughout the ages. Especially 2007-2008 is analyzed. The post...more
Erez Davidi
As our current economic system is melting slowly away, along with a decade-long rise of the price of gold, naturally more and more books are appearing which try to examine our past economic systems and the role gold used to have in them.

Paper Promises is a very well written and unbiased economic history covering different monetary systems from the classic gold standard through Bretton Woods to our current fiat system. In some sense, this book doesn't offer any new information to people who follo...more
Philip Coggan has compiled a 400 page book with enough knowledge and analysis to make it feel like an 800 page book, without seeming at all like a long and demanding read.
Having read previous books in the financial and monetary sector, Paper Promises compares favorably in the sense that it is truly the best of all worlds.
The first part of the book is a financial and monetary history in every sense worthy of Niall Ferguson's Ascent of Money, coupled with a monetary analysis every bit as astute as...more
A lucid, even-handed and very timely exposition of the nature of money and credit. Coggan conveys the daunting scale of the debt problem the West has sunk into without sounding hysterical or despairing. The way he contextualises the problem by showing how it is both similar to, and different from previous crises is enlightening - this is one of those books that weaves together scraps of knowledge you already have into a coherent whole.

Even so, it is not a tome that reaches out to the most casual...more
Paper Promises (2011) by Phillip Coggan is a masterful study of money and debt. Coggan worked at the Financial Times for 20 years and now writes at The Economist. He has written a number of books on finance that are all highly regarded. The book looks at the history of money and credit and concentrates on the post industrial revolution world where credit and fiat currency rapidly expanded.
The book starts with a brief look at money in history before moving the C19 and then C20 and most of the boo...more
Arto Suryodipuro
Money--paper money--functions as a medium of exchange and a store of value. It is the latter that book is all about. How the value of money is measured and how the currencies of the developed economies have constantly lost value, through devaluation and expansionary monetary policies; through inflated and subsequently depressed asset value; and through debts expanded faster than the economy.

The book is bleak about the future of the current global financial architecture. The author predicts--hope...more
By Robert Cole

Do you want to know how global financial system came to be and what it has become? Do you want to re-examine what you think you know? Paper Promises, by journalist Philip Coggan, is a good place to look for answers to those questions.

Coggan’s concise and lucid book will leave readers deeply doubtful about the system’s reliability and durability. At the centre of his portrait is the unending tussle between lenders and borrowers. Economies of all sorts have been undermined, says Cogg...more
"paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order" by Philip Coggan is concise and well organized work that brings context to the debt problems that developed nations currently suffer. The book commences with a discussion of what it means to be money, e.g. its functions and how currency in the form of coins came to be. Afterward, Coggan writes about the history of money. The reader learns about the prominence of the gold, the first (failed) attempts at paper money, the abandonment of gold, t...more
Anandh Sundar
Exceedingly well written book(like most other Economist books, it manages to convey its points in plain english without dumbing down), and very insightful. One can read the book as an introductory primer AND as an advanced reference, depending on their inclination to think and analyze. I thought this is just another of the those post subprime books, but it is worth a read irrespective of the other trash one has read before. But then, that is only expected from an Economist book. Plenty of litera...more
Neil Kingston

Written in the crisp, clear, concise style that we would expect from somebody that also writes for The Economist. The book is at once informative and detailed, without being patronising, or requiring the reader to be overly knowledgeable on its subject matter in advance. it describes clearly the uses and value of money and how this has changed throughout the past few hundred years. Thus the first half of the book reads as an informative history. he second half of the book takes the wisdom from...more
Interesting discourse on the history of monetary systems and how we've gotten into our current mess. If you don't mind a little discussion of bond yields, you'll find it enlightening.
Madhur Rao
Excellent book!!! Helps you understand the current financial crisis through the lens of Debtors and Creditors. China is the biggest creditor while the US is the biggest debtor (contrary to what existed pre 1950s). Governments in all countries always try and protect the interests of debtors and not creditors. Excess debt will probably lead to three things 1) inflation, 2) stagnation 3) default. Any currency devaluations is in effect an indirect way of default. The US currency has depreciated by 9...more
Very readable, and recommended to anyone looking for an intelligent entry-level look at the subject matter.
Sidenote: I'm always struck by how tenuous our global financial system seems to be - everything hinges on promises and beliefs and approximations. Change one digit in a computer system and it seems like it could all come apart, especially when we're talking about uncountable billions or trillions of dollars. I guess it's a good thing I didn't study economics.
A very readable history of debt and money.

This book made a lot of sense. He explained problems related to the amount of debt, the demographic implications on debt repayment and even how energy has impacted economic change. Overall, not very encouraging in that he believes we still are not through the current economic crises and have some tough times ahead.

"a new system will be set by today's creditors in China and the Middle East"
A really in-depth and good look at the history of debt and international monetary/banking systems. While his ultimate predictions for the future aren't revolutionary, they do provide some insight into the changing nature of the financial balance of power worldwide.
Michael Joseph Brown
This is an insightful book. Many Americans may be wary of its argument, but it is a convincing one nonetheless. In addition, the author is lucid and provides a great deal of background information that may be necessary for the novice.
Dele Cooke
Brilliant. Brilliant. Did I mention, this book is brilliant.
Outstandingly clear explanation of exactly how Merchant Bank speculators connive to create money out of nothing and saddle the rest of us with the debt of their failed gambling.
Ivan Lee kok hao
Being new to the world of finance and economics, this book has been very revealing to me. I have come to understand the economic system it is today and the challenges ahead for the global economy. Recommended highly.
Petter Sund
Full five stars! My expectations were high given that I am a frequent reader
of the Buttonwood column and they were met by the analytical logic of Mr Coggan.
These are interesting times, let's see how they play out.
Not too well structured, but interesting. The last part about current crisis and future outlook was better.
interesting and well-written, although I got really bogged down in it in the middle
Sasha Smith
One of the best books I've read in a while. Highly recommended, particularly for Gen Y's.
Good read altough would complement it with the Ascent of Money, by Nial Ferguson.
Larry Carter
One of the best written to describe where the world is
Jason Cumbie
Sobering account of recent economic history.
Very readable - I would highly recommend it.
Sep 11, 2012 Eugene marked it as to-read
Presented in CLSA Forum 2012 09
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 21 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System
  • When Money Dies: The Nightmare Of The Weimar Hyper Inflation
  • Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis
  • White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You
  • The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America
  • The Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform-Why We Need It and What It Will Take
  • After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead
  • Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street's Wildest Con
  • Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age
  • Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise
  • The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too
  • Web of Debt
  • Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power
  • Grand Pursuit: A History of Economic Genius
  • The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run-or Ruin-an Economy
  • Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present
  • A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World
  • Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles
The Money Machine Guide to Hedge Funds: What They Are, What They Do, Their Risks, Their Advantages The Last Vote: The Threats to Western Democracy Easy Money The Traders Directory '86: Foreign Exchange, Futures And Options Dealers

Share This Book