This is extraordinarily good news for lovers of free valuable things. Due to extraordinary shortsightedness, Verso Books have allowed Doug Henwood’s “Wall Street” to go out of print, the rights thus reverting to the author. In an equally extraordinary act of generosity, Doug has decided to release it to the internet, gratis, under a Creative Commons Licence. Download it quick before he gets his marbles back is my advice.
Pretty much Wow. Wall Street is an ace book; in my professional opinion as a business school graduate it contains the clearest explanation you will find of how financial markets work, much better than the one in Principles of Corporate Finance, Modern Investment Theory or any similar MBA textbooks. There is also a lot of very good material on Keynesian economics, and a short essay on Social Security privatisation that is, despite having been written about ten years ago, much better, more quotable and freer of error than almost anything written in the last two years. There are also a number of good jokes and a couple of absolutely priceless footnotes on the sexual appetites of Wall Streeters. My suggestion to Doug was that he should have jacked the price up to $85 and gone after the textbook market, so getting it for nothing is a bargain to say the least.
In respect of which, the author apparently got quite royally screwed financially from writing the thing; less than $10,000 despite it selling 20,000 copies and taking six years to write. He’s put up a Paypal tipjar which I hope you will all use; otherwise (and perhaps more realistically) you could say thankyou by buying After the New Economy which is also a top book, or perhaps subscribe to the Left Business Observer newsletter, which also looks woefully underpriced at $22 for 11 issues given that along with the left-wing polemic it contains two pages of the sort of high quality flow-of-funds analysis that serious people pay serious money for. You don’t get any bonus Ginsu knives or anything, but net that, it’s probably the best bargain you’ll find on the internet today. Sorry to come over like a pitchman and all that but it really would be a shame if Doug ended up financially no better off for making Wall Street publicly available. I own or subscribe to all these products myself, by the way.
Brad agrees with me that the economics is top-notch stuff. I tend toward Brad’s side of this particular argument; stock markets don’t produce nothing, they produce liquidity. It is true that there is no such thing as “liquidity” for the economy as a whole; we can’t all have the ability to buy or sell stock as we wish at the same time. But on the other hand, we can’t all stay in the Ritz Hotel at the same time either, but that doesn’t mean it’s fictitious. Doug’s main point, however – that the stock market is not either a material source of funds for industry or a “capital allocation mechanism” of any value whatever – is spot on and is a critique which is not made nearly enough. Anyway, RTFB. Maybe I’ll write something more about this at length later.
If you do end up buying “After The New Economy”, perhaps you would be good enough to write a review essay and email it to me so I can put it up on CT like I’ve been promising to do for the last year.