The banking industry touches on nearly all financial transactions, including retail purchases, commercial and residential real estate financing, capital markets, and foreign exchange. The following five books explore the important roles banks play in supporting the world economy.
‘The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance,’ by Ron Chernow
Chernow’s book ‘The House of Morgan’ explores the foundations of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Company (NYSE: JPM), chronicling how the Morgan family stealthily surpassed the Rothschild and Baring families to become the world’s most powerful financial establishment. Chernow’s work details how the bank’s 1890s bailout of the United States catapulted it to a position of power that enabled it to provide key financing for World War I and World War II. Finally, the book provides intimate portraits of the individuals who founded the Morgan banking dynasty.
‘The Greatest-Ever Bank Robbery: The Collapse of the Savings and Loan Industry,’ by Martin Mayer
‘The Greatest-Ever Bank Robbery’ focuses on a tumultuous time for banks, when the Savings and Loan (S&L) crisis decimated the thrift industry in the 1980s. This caused a level of uncertainly among banking customers, only rivaled by the panic caused by the Great Depression, some 50 years earlier. Although numerous books have been written on this subject, Mayer’s work stands out for its readability and deep-dive coverage of the topic.
‘The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution,’ by Jonathan McMillan
McMillan’s ‘The End of Banking’ presents an intriguing gaze into the financial future, where McMillan foresees a digital monetary revolution replacing the banking system as we currently know it. After carefully detailing the ultimately unsolvable problems he believes are plaguing the current banking system, McMillan proposes ways to revolutionize the industry with digital technology, new payment processing and monetary exchange systems, and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.
‘McColl: The Man with America’s Money,’ by Ross Yockey
Yockey’s book chronicles the accomplishments of Hugh McColl, one of the most important and influential figures in modern banking. The book relates the story of how McColl, former chief executive officer of Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), developed the first genuinely national American bank, with branches across all 50 states. McColl led the creation of modern interstate and branch banking through a series of mergers and acquisitions of regional banks and thrifts that gradually transformed the American Commercial Bank (later NationsBank) into the Bank of America, in 1998. The book offers an intriguing biographical account of a true banking industry visionary.
‘The Creature from Jekyll Island,’ by G. Edward Griffin
Griffin’s ‘The Creature from Jekyll Island’ is widely viewed as the seminal book about the Federal Reserve Bank, which remains a largely misunderstood institution to many Americans. In addition to detailing the creation of the Federal Reserve System (FRS), Griffin deconstructs the purpose behind it. But Griffin doesn’t always present a positive view of the U.S. central bank, which he holds responsible for many terrible events, such as the Great Depression and the continual inflation that has eroded some 90% of the U.S. dollar’s purchasing power. While some experts challenge the validity of Griffin’s claims, this fascinating book is an undeniably well-researched read. Its updated 2010 version includes analysis of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent bank bailouts that put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for trillions of dollars.