Read High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg by Niall Ferguson Online


High Financier The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg by Ferguson, Niall. Published by Penguin Press HC, The,2010, Binding: Hardcover...

Title : High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg
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ISBN : 9781594202469
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 576 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg Reviews

  • port22
    2019-03-15 10:42

    (part 1)Hindsight gives an incontestable verdict on the impact Hitler had on history, at the same time things might have been looking very different for the people who were direct witnesses of the German political scene of the early 1930s. Excellent illustration are the apprehensions of Siegmund Warburg, a highly educated German Jew, in the years before he decides to immigrate. For us, from the vantage point of time, what he did seems obvious. Why didn't many others see what was coming and do the same?History teaches us that events of great consequence take place on a certain date, but things are not black and white. With respect to this consider that in 1933 a viciously anti-semitic political party, which had paraded outright violent confrontation, comes to power. At first glance after the date of the elections Siegmund should have immediately considered leaving Germany. Yet he didn't.His observations, as recounted in his diary, tell us why it took him 2 years to finally decide that there is no way back. It is a record of the deep uncertainties felt by the contemporaries of Nazi's ascent into power.The chapter "Exile" recounts crucial days of early 1930s and the evolution of Siegmund's thinking. The electoral victory of the Nazis energized Germany's youth so much that even some Jews, him included, heralded the outcome as a validation of the dynamic forces of renewal. Siegmund argued that radical elements in the Nazi party will be moderated once they get into government. "Mein Kampf", which he read, he considered to be inviable as a political program but more of a recruiting instrument.The snowball of dramatic events -- the fire in Reichstag, the state of emergency that follows, and the appointment of Hitler as a chancellor -- crystallizes a new awareness and approaching the end of March 1933 Siegmund Warburg had an epiphany about the true nature of National Socialism! The realization was sudden. He asked himself one fundamental question, is fascism, as a powerful force of change, pushing Germany in the direction of order and prosperity, or it is a political system close to that of Moscow, that leads to arbitrariness, brutality and intolerance. This fermenting thought was helped by the events. The brown-shirted members of SA used the electoral victory to set scores with their rivals of the political left and with the German Jews. This manifested in torch-lit parades with chants of "Death to the Jews".Siegmund did not in fact leave Germany for another year.Siegmund becomes resident alien in UK in April 1934. Many more left but even more staid in Germany to face their ultimate decimation.Human thinking fatally misses to recognize the bigger arch of development. A sequence of events, of even incontrovertible adversity, when brought in by incremental political changes confound individual decision making. All the time people expected that each of the gradually introduced acts is the last, that it wasn't possible to get worse. It got worse.(part 2)Learning about Warburg's role in the invention of Eurodollars denominated bond market was for me a pleasant discovery in this book.Bulgaria, late 1980s, I was in high school. I fondly remember the only TV program devoted to world economy that I used to follow. Not infrequently a topic, apart from others I didn't understand, was the Eurodollar. There was nobody around to explain to me what Eurodollar was but surprisingly the word got stuck in my mind. A dormant curiosity until I stumbled upon the topic for a second time in Ferguson's book.Europe after the Second World War was clogged by frustratingly regulated capital and currency markets. A British citizen, for example, could purchase foreign securities only as part of a currency pool entirely controlled by the government. At the same time Europe was flush with dollars. They were limited to earn paltry 1% if deposited in US, as mandated by a regulation from the time of the Great Depression. What if a bond is denominated in dollars, thought Warburg -- it evades strict currency exchange rate regime on one hand, and mops up the excess of savings denominated in it.For some humor, Warburg imagined the typical investor to be the mythical figure of the Belgian dentist -- a high-earning individual, living in a country with a bureaucratic tax system where domestic bonds were liable to tax at source, and where there was a limited choice of investment opportunities. Thus the first postwar continental bond market was started -- Eurobonds denominated in Eurodollars.Educational but this part of the book is much weaker than the story of his formative years and the ascent of Hitler.(part 3)The book, at places, fawns a bit too much to the life and principles of Warburg. Some times very inspiring quotations from his letters and notes seemed detached, like an abstract philosophical construct, wisdom which I couldn't pin directly to events in his life. For me that was one of the book's weaknesses.

  • Blog on Books
    2019-03-20 13:54

    Like James McGrath Morris’ recent expansive biography on journalist Joseph Pulitzer, former Oxford and now Harvard professor Niall Ferguson’s well timed portrait of Siegmund Warburg comes as a result of the author’s decade long research and discovery, both through heirs and institutions, of some 10,000 heretofore never released documents and notes about one of Britain’s most preeminent financiers.Ferguson’s portrayal of this ’scion of one of the great German-Jewish banking dynasties’ reveals a man of high moral turpitude who after his early upbringings and dominant family life in pre-Nazi Germany, expatriated to England to emerge as one of the leading exemplars of economic stability in post-war, post-depression, Britain. In this 548 page volume – complete with archival tree, graphology and extensive notes – Ferguson reveals Warburg to be both mercurial yet oft-times benevolent, moralistic yet powerful, as well as a macro-thinker and part-time psychologist in dealing with the financial affairs of the mid-century British industrial empire and the further concept of European economic integration.Warburg’s issues in British post-war economic society come exceedingly close to many of the issues of the U.S. domestic economy post-Wall Street meltdown of recent years. For example, after his steerage of the floundering British Aluminum industry via a hostile takeover from Reynolds, Warburg attempted to turn the beleaguered British automotive industry into a free market success, centered around the British-Leyland merger (despite the reversal through both nationalization as well as the eventual sale to foreign owners (Ford) of the revered brands Jaguar, Rover and MG). Next, Warburg found himself being asked to play a lead role in preventing the monopolization of the unstable newspaper business of Fleet Street. Both scenarios have obvious parallels with profoundly similar issues today.Through it all, Warburg stood not as a person of unusual personality or extreme idiosyncrasies, but as a man of great scope, knowledge and principle; always looking at the big picture and its effect on the economic, and thus political, outlook for Britain and the further European continent. Warburg and his board were weary of speculators and hustlers who were often attempting to corrupt the commerce and private economic system for their own gain; a historical lesson that could prove useful for the investment banking industry on Wall Street today.With his breakthrough books, including last year’s ‘The Ascent of Money,’ Ferguson is well on his way (along with Ron Chernow) to becoming one of the most authoritative economic history writers of our times. It will be curious to see what his next subject is (rumored to be either Henry Kissinger or another work on the Rothschilds) and where that places him along this continuum.You can read more on finance and economics from Niall Ferguson here.

  • Miguel
    2019-03-04 11:49

    Will “Fabulous Fab” read this and have a Damascene conversion? Fat chanceI feel an acute ambivalence toward Niall Ferguson’s work: if his name is on the byline of a column in the FT or the Wall Street Journal, I will gladly read it through as he brings the “longue durée” perspective of history to the minutiae of current economic events. However, when it comes to his scholarly work, I have to will myself to read through to the end. You sometimes feel as if you were listening to him distractedly hurrying through a graduate seminar as he daydreams about his next appointment with Henry Kissinger.In this biography of the unofficial founder of the postwar City of London and the creator of the Eurobond market, Ferguson has a clearly didactic ambition: to remind “a new generation of bankers of Siegmund Warburg’s haute banque ideal — financial service based on the primacy of the client relationship rather than the speculative transaction.” This is a lofty, laudable, conscientious, and earnest (albeit slightly self-righteous) motivation. And he proceeds to do exactly that, thanks to unprecedented access to Warburg’s personal papers, in a methodical, conscientious, scrupulous and at times (cringingly) obsequious way (the caption to one picture reads: “Siegmund as a boy: already happiest with book in hand”). However, he discharges his duty in such a bloodless fashion that you sometimes wonder if he was even more tortured by ennui than his reader. Is there any possibility that, as Ferguson intends, a purveyor of synthetic squared CDOs will peruse all of its pages and feel a tinge of shame or that a “Fabulous Fab” will have a Damascene conversion while traipsing through this grey tome? Fat chance.

  • Marks54
    2019-03-15 17:53

    Niall Ferguson is a prolific historian of people and things economic who seems to be able to write faster than many people can read. This biography of Siegmund Warburg is a fine example of his work. Warburg was a relative to a famous financial family that influenced Germany (Max Warburg) and the US (Paul Warburg and the founding of the Federal Reserve). This biography follows Siegmund into the business and traces its and his development through the 1930, including the takeover of the firm by the Nazis, to the postwar period, to the central role of Warburg and his firm in launching the rebirth of finance and the City of London into worldwide financial prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. Along the way, it is a story of the evolution of these firms that were founded by extraordinary individuals but grew as the industry morphed as well to a point where the founder arguably got in the way of the further progress of the firm. The writing, as always with Ferguson, is very crisp. The story works well in conjunction with related books - Chernow's history of the Warburg family, and Charles Ellis' history of Goldman Sachs (The Partnership) and shows the interaction of industry evolution, economic changes, and strong personalities. A really well done history of a financial titan and his firm.

  • Jc
    2019-03-07 15:28

    It took 12 years for NF to write this book. He obviously accumulated a lot of information and he regurgitates too much of it. Consequently we get a book written by an academic for academics, definitely not as good as the Ascent of Money which was aimed at a slightly larger audience. Despite the fascination NF has for SGW, what comes out is the portrait of a somewhat obnoxious man (Attali’s book made him more friendly): authoritarian, pretentious with snapshot judgments (on people particularly) that would be reversed just as fast. We get very little on his achievements as a banker. Except for his role in the aluminum war and in pioneering the Eurobond market we only get a glimpse of what he and his firm were involved in; except for the frenzy of M&A work to consolidate British industry. The fact it all ended in the collapse of British industry is probably more due to the political regime (Wilson) and the lack of good material to work with than due to bad merger advice by Warburg. Altogether not a very good book.

  • Stuart Kinross
    2019-03-02 09:46

    A fascinating biography that provides an insight into the reasons for Siegmund Warburg's highly successful career. As one would expect of an accomplished historian like Niall Ferguson, this book is based on a scrupulous reading of primary source material allowing the reader to appreciate Warburg's thought processes during the key stages of his life. The book sheds a light on the past and on the present. In terms of the past, Warburg's story illustrates the shocking demise of Jewish life in Hitler's Germany. As far as today is concerned, Warburg's ability as a financier stands in stark contrast to those whose recklessness in the past decade or so has severely damaged the reputation of this important industry.

  • Brentley Campbell
    2019-03-17 11:39

    Siegmund Warburg lived through very interesting times and showed the utmost resilience in the face of enormous challenges (being a wealthy jewish banker in nazi germany). One can learn a lot about discipline from Warburg and also how to be contrarian. Warburg completely transformed the City by breaking all of the good 'ole boys club rules and helped finance some of the first hostile takeovers in the UK.

  • Brian Mcleish
    2019-03-16 11:53

    In an interview concerning this biography Niall Ferguson opined that we would all get on a whole lot better if we read more biographies of bankers and fewer of politicians. Not sure if that would set the book charts on fire but this is Ferguson at his best, charting the history of high finance through the life of Siegmund Warburg.It is tough going at times if you aren't a financial expert, I had to reach for my dictionary on a couple of occasions!

  • JBrown
    2019-02-21 09:46

    I loved this book until I alluded to it in an email. The guy who I emailed hasn't emailed me back. A good book if you want to learn about the lifestyle of a banker. I enjoyed reading it however long it became. Good banker book to supplement your faves with if you don't have any other ideas. And, I wanted to get some idea of what Niall Ferguson was writing about.

  • Anibal
    2019-03-08 09:52

    Finance historian par excellence Niall Ferguson recounts Siegmund Warburg´s life as a member of a jewish family bank dynasty who was one of the architects of the process of european integration and founder of Eurobond markets. To Warburg finance was a nobel art devoid of speculation abide to the highest moral (and aesthetics) standards.

  • Terry
    2019-03-12 12:40

    I've been a big fan of N. Ferguson since having read,"The Ascent of Money." As I laboriously read through this book, though, I could not stop from wondering whether this was a book he was paid to write on commission by the Warburg family." I took nothing away from it of value.

  • Frank Kelly
    2019-03-01 13:54

    What a guy! They do not write many in-depth biographies about great financiers anymore (unless it's about their trial, conviction and time in jail). Warburg was larger than life and Ferguson brings it all to vivid life. Lots of fun.

  • Kenneth
    2019-03-20 10:28

    I always love reading Niall Ferguson's books. They are well-researched and provide excellent insight into the individuals and times. This book was no different. My one issue is that the book was a bit dense, but still worthwhile considering the importance of Siegmund Warburg.

  • Daryl
    2019-03-05 16:37

    Warburg was a great banker, I'm sure. An interesting/captivating public figure? Well, not so much. Ferguson is a great writer and he tried his best, but even he admits that he kept putting this book aside to work on other projects. I pretty much felt the same way reading it.

  • Imad Ahmed
    2019-03-20 14:47

    The book doesn't become interesting until one is 31% through the Kindle version; the relevance of the minutiae of Warburg's early life isn't self-evident.

  • Susan Ozment
    2019-02-22 11:30

    So boring I could barely finish this book.