Fragile by Design

  • by Charles W. Calomiris, Stephen H. Haber
  • Narrated by Basil Sands
  • 20 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Why are banking systems unstable in so many countries--but not in others? The United States has had twelve systemic banking crises since 1840, while Canada has had none. The banking systems of Mexico and Brazil have not only been crisis prone but have provided miniscule amounts of credit to business enterprises and households. Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several centuries, Fragile by Design demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders, depositors, debtors, and taxpayers. The well-being of banking systems depends on the abilities of political institutions to balance and limit how coalitions of these various groups influence government regulations.
Fragile by Design is a revealing exploration of the ways that politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation. Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


What did you like most about Fragile by Design?

Easily accessible information.

Any additional comments?

The narration was solid but could use a different 'font' for headings. It did feel a little like a lecture series rather than a book at times, over proving assertions on occasion.

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- Gerard

Interesting, but why the hectoring voice?

I certainly learned a lot about banking history. The authors make a compelling case that the interplay between powerful politicians and the bankers they turn to to fund their pet projects can interact in important but often unforeseen manners, and that there are important lessons in history which have (surprise surprise) by and large not been learned. Overall an interesting book and I am glad I persisted with it, but it was a bit of a struggle, partly because some of the early American banking history stuff I found a bit boring, and in a big way because, sorry to be so blunt, I found the voice and narration style of the narrator very grating. He always sounds as if he is shouting at you. (Basil: mellow out!) Still, I learned a great deal.
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- Jan W. H. Schnupp

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-03-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios