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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very relevant today
Recall the talk before the bust of the "New Economy," in which distended P/E ratios and lack of profits were to be irrelevant. Recall Enron's public proclamations of its stability and projected earnings increases. Keep these in mind as you read The Great Crash, and you will never again listen to an analyst, much less an executive.
Galbraith's theme is that market...
Published on Feb. 10 2002 by Ben R.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars School Paper
The book The Great Crash: 1929, by John Galbraith, is a cynical look at the stock market crash of 1929. In his book he tries to convince the reader of the stupidity of the American people for not realizing the eventual collapse of the stock market. The book for what it is worth is factual and the only point is to explain the crash and the stupidity of the people...
Published on Dec 11 2000 by Raziel


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very relevant today, Feb. 10 2002
Recall the talk before the bust of the "New Economy," in which distended P/E ratios and lack of profits were to be irrelevant. Recall Enron's public proclamations of its stability and projected earnings increases. Keep these in mind as you read The Great Crash, and you will never again listen to an analyst, much less an executive.
Galbraith's theme is that market stability and corporate interests are fundamentally at odds. CEOs will never speak evil about their own companies or the condition of the market, so their speech is about as useful to an investor as a pre-game pep talk is to a bettor. Analysts, as well as executives, are salesmen of their own stock, and their primary objective is to get you to buy high.
So why did the 1929 -- or the 2000 -- crash occur? Buying high is great as long as someone is always buying higher; however, such an aggrandized pyramid scheme is doomed to failure. It's as simple as that. So why, then, read Galbraith's book? He is a talented storyteller, and he highlights themes that are likely to accompany future bubbles so that the reader knows what to be skeptical about. This is a very entertaining read, and if you actively compare what Galbraith tells you of the 20's to what you know about the 90's, you'll likely not be swept away by future investing mania.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly sarcastic; missing A LOT of useful stuff, Oct. 30 2001
By 
Donald Gillies "secretbearer" (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This book does a poor job of explaining what caused the depression. It gives a sarcastic narrative of some of the bad practices leading up until 1929, and the sarcasm is amusing. After the sarcasm, in about february of 1930, it stops and draws unjustified and unsupported conclusions. The narrative comes mainly from reading the New York newspapers. A description of what happened in rural areas and at small banks is not included. You will not understand what a run on a bank is, and how small banks were leveraged and destroyed by the depression. You will hear nothing about the propensity of the federal reserve to keep interest rates too high from 1929 - 1933, and will not know how much they should have been lowered, or if lowering them would have been ineffective. You will not learn how to draw your own economic conclusions by reading this book. Because the book is 100% text, a large opportunity is missed to explain some of the economic history through pictures.
I think the book is popular because it was written by a Harvard Professor. I have read several books on the depression and this one, because of the hype, was the greatest disappointment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars School Paper, Dec 11 2000
By 
Raziel (charleston, sc) - See all my reviews
The book The Great Crash: 1929, by John Galbraith, is a cynical look at the stock market crash of 1929. In his book he tries to convince the reader of the stupidity of the American people for not realizing the eventual collapse of the stock market. The book for what it is worth is factual and the only point is to explain the crash and the stupidity of the people involved. He writes with a style that is cynical, yet all knowing. He makes it very obvious why the crash occurred but when it comes to explaining how it could have been avoided he gets rather shady. All in all, this book is just a factual account of the tragedy of the stock market crash of 1929.
Galbraith starts his book off with the people, and their mindsets, involved in the pre-crash years. In the beginning it seems that people would have known about the stock market crash eventually to occur, but if they did they did not care. People in the years from 1925 to 1929 played the stock market without really even paying for it. In those years you could go to a broker and purchase stock on margin, which means that instead of buying your stocks with the money you have, you put down 10% and make monthly payments. Since everyone was doing it the stock rose and was became worth more in days or even hours so you ended up not even paying for it. The average person would think at this point that people knew that this would not last forever, but they didn't care because they were making money at the time. The question is why did the government not do anything to stop this. Well before the crash Coolidge was in office and he did not care what happened. In 1929 Hoover was inaugurated and he and the F.R.B started having meetings every day about the condition of the stock market.
The first of many smaller crashes and recoveries starting occurring on Monday, March 25, 1929, in the following six months it was the most unreliable, jumpy market ever. Oddly enough though, the summer held much optimism for the market. The crash itself began on Thursday, October 24, 1929. Even at telegraphic speed, the volume of stocks exchanged was having an effect on time. Crowds started to gather outside of the NYSE trying to figure out what was going on and police had to be called to maintain control. On Friday, the market recovered. On Monday, October 28, 1929 over 9,250,000 shares trade but there was not much of a recovery and this lead to Black Tuesday.
Black Tuesday was the result of the stock market boom in the past 5 years. There were to be 16,410,030 shares traded on that day, everyone was trying to get out. In order to get out you had to get sell at market value. People were dumping their securities and causing even more downward pressure on the market. There was no recovery, the market had crashed and it would take a lot of time and effort to rebuild it. Finally there was the aftermath. People who were rich suddenly became poor in the span of a day. The suicide rate for the next few years rose. The entire world was affected by this crash and it eventually led into the great depression.
The author of this book presented a point, the point that people should have done something to prevent the crash of the stock market, and it was easy for him to succeed in proving this point, for what is there to prove. This book, which gives a account of the crash of the stock market in 1929 is accurate in all accounts and has no falsities in it as far as can be seen. The information is documented and there are many primary and secondary sources used in the writing of this book. This book is easily understood and is a great tool to explain the stock market crash.
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3.0 out of 5 stars mediocre for Galbraith, June 21 2013
This review is from: The Great Crash 1929 (Paperback)
This short book contains some of JKG's characteristic wit and insight, but much of it is made of the sort of list-of-big-business numbers trivia one would expect to find in Forbes or The Economist. (Strangely, the most boring of these chapters is anthologized in "The Essential Galbraith.") It is worth reading for hard-core students of the 1929 crash -- little is said about the Depression in these few pages -- and Galbraith fans. However, recent books such as Liquat Ahamed's Lords of Finance and Michael Perino's The Hellhound of Wall Street are far more comprehensive -- and less like suffering through The Economist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the 1929 crash in elegant prose, Oct. 29 2003
By 
N. Tsafos (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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Economics, like physics, has a fundamental canon: you cannot make money out of nothing. To narrate the history of financial bubbles is to chronicle those times when people overlooked that fact. In those instances, asset prices soar merely to be resold for profit, with little regard as to their actual value; when something shakes confidence and buyers are in short supply, a crash follows as prices were sustainable only insofar as they could be resold higher.

According to John Galbraith, the stock-market crash that took place in the fall of 1929 was typical of this prototype. Mr. Galbraith, a Harvard economist, traced the optimism to the Florida real-estate bubble of 1925 which made people forget the elementary rules of money making. What follows is an elegant narrative that interweaves economics with history to produce one of the most telling and lucid accounts of the developments, economic and otherwise, that lead up to the October 1929 crash.

The crash, according to Mr. Galbraith, was caused by an admixture of bad income distribution (economy too dependent on luxury spending and investment), bad corporate structure, bad banking structure, foreign imbalances, and bad economic intelligence. In seeking compelling explanations, the "Great Crash" often resists conventional wisdom: for example, to those who blame the abundance of credit, Mr. Galbraith answers: "on numerous occasions before and since credit has been easy, and there has been no speculation whatever." Mr. Galbraith looks beyond central banking and interest rates to compile a rich and diverse history of the 1929 crash.

So what about preventing future crises? Here, Mr. Galbraith is ambivalent. Regulation has and can play a substantial role in preventing future troubles. But the problem lies elsewhere: people continue to believe that they have been blessed, and that they can make money with little or no effort. When wise men see such folly and decide to partake in it rather than spoil it, a bubble that later crashes is inevitable. For all those who seek an economic solution to this economic problem, Mr. Galbraith surely disappoints. The surest protection against over-speculation, he writes, is to remind people that you can never get something from nothing. Those in love with central banking might find the idea simplistic, yet its beauty lies with its simplicity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. Effective. Inventive., Jan. 5 2003
By 
Matthew J. Fery (Dayton, OH USA) - See all my reviews
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Galbraith's inventive work on the fascinating events leading up and preceding the 1929 stock market crash is must-read for anyone interested in the national economy, how it functions, how it fails, and what role the federal government plays in perpetuating or stifling the situation.
He very convincingly establishes a good groundwork for the reader, explaining why the stock market was in such a large expansion and how federal regulation (or lack therof) enabled the financial firms to operate in very risky and perhaps unethical ways.
Obviously, the book chronicles the disastrous declines in 1929 and further discusses the federal government's attempts to revive the American economy, those for the most part failed.
The most important lesson this book can allay to the reader is that economies are not self-sustaining structures that are only subject to supply and demand shifts. In instances like the 1929 crash, the prognosis for dynamic economies can often lie in the actions of a handful of actors/people. A good lesson to remember.
Indeed there are many lessons to be learned from this book, many that are relevant to today's economy (2003). Read this book with care and with a comparative mindset!
A must read for economists and public policy makers!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Actually Happened in 1929?, Oct. 24 2001
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 122,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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Having just lived through the crash of the dot-com stocks, I thought it was a particularly appropriate moment to reread John Kenneth Galbraith's famous history of the stock market crash of 1929 in the United States. Professor Galbraith's final words prove to be prophetic as he suggests that as soon as the lessons of 1929 are forgotten, the speculative excesses that led to that debacle will recur. I am sure that when the dot-bomb experience is forgotten, it will be repeated with some new class of speculation in some future generation.
With the recent experience of seeing a market mania, I came away more impressed with this book than before. Professor Galbraith does a fine job of capturing the psychology that builds into and sustains a mania. He also writes like a novelist rather than like an economist. That talent makes the message easy to grasp and appreciate.
I was also impressed by how our popular perceptions of 1929 are so often wrong. For example, most people believe that many "broken" speculators committed suicide. Although some did, there was no significant rise in the suicide rate compared to a general trend in that direction.
Economists often like to fault the Federal Reserve for the crash. That blame seems somewhat misplaced when you learn that there was very little government debt that the Fed could repurchase to create liquidity. Had the Fed acted differently, the crash might have come a little sooner and not been quite so severe . . . but the fundamentals would probably not have changed too much.
Another misperception is that everyone was speculating. By even the most generous measures, the speculators probably never numbered over a million people.
Although this is a history, Professor Galbraith takes on the economic question of how the crash contributed to the Depression. Although we know very little about the economic details of 1929, I was impressed by the point about how much consumer spending was concentrated in the wealthiest people. As they lost vast sums, both spending for consumer goods and savings for capital were decimated. With the broader income distribution of today, such a cataclysm would not be so harmful (as we saw in the aftermath of the dot-com crash).
There is an excellent parallel discussion of the land boom in Florida earlier in the 1920's that is very rewarding. I was intrigued by the ways that ever increasing ways of extending leverage were created so that both bubbles could climb higher. In Florida, people didn't actually buy the land. They bought options to buy the land, and traded those. In the stock market, holding companies sold stock and then floated new holding companies. These were capitalized with common stock, preferred and debt so that all of the appreciation would accrue to the common holders. Naturally, the opposite occurred on the way down. Many stocks fell by over 99 percent, as a result.
Everyone who is tempted to buy any item primarily because it is thought to represent an opportunity for a quick buck should read this book.
Look for true value in all that you do!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Classic -- Style A Bit Insouciant, March 14 1999
By A Customer
Somebody on comp.software.year-2000 urged me to read this Galbraith volume because, he noted, "the parallels with current economic conditions -- with an out-of-control, logic-defying stock market, and happy-face government posturing in face of obvious disaster -- make it a must read." Fine. I bought this book 2 weeks ago on amazon (I'm a regular) and just finished.
True, the parallels are there. And I highly recommend the work if nothing more than to highlight in the reader's mind the elements of human nature that insure that we will always have depressions -- every 70 years or so ... secula seculorum... but in a small way, I expected more.
I find Galbraith (author of some 20 works on economics) to lack an emotional, visceral style that should have enunciated a polished telling of this critical set of events - (I say "set" because although October 24, 1929, or "Black Thursday" may have set events in motion... the bottom did not come until July, 1932). To borrow from Trekkies, if I may, I felt like I was following a history lesson from a Vulcan history professor. The chronology was well placed and organized, but there was nothing to help me "feel" the event.
Nonetheless, I appreciated the referral and the read. And I think that this work will have even more renewed interest when the world investment community eventually comes to grips with the lack of rationale in supporting stock values whose P/E ratios stretch well into infinity.
Greg Caton Lumen Foods (soybean.com) caton@soybean.com March 14, 1999
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5.0 out of 5 stars A warning, Jan. 6 2011
By 
O. Grigoras "ogr_ro1" (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Crash 1929 (Paperback)
Galbraith wrote this book as a warning. People have to understand who a bubble can be created. And bubbles are pretty in every country and in every moment of the capitalism.

This was just the biggest bubble. I recommand to read this book with other about bubbles.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Informing, but slow, Oct. 21 2002
By A Customer
The book The Great Crash 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith was very informative, full of facts and other things which made me understand what the great crash was all about. Although, the book went slow, and I often lost interest in it seeing as how it blasted me with information. I would recommend this book to anybody who really wants to learn about the great depresion, and about how unpredictable the stock market can really be.
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The Great Crash 1929
The Great Crash 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith (Paperback - Sept. 10 2009)
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