Title: Money : whence it came, where it went
Author: John Kenneth Galbraith
Pages: 335 pages
Publisher: Bantam (1976)
In terms of content, Galbraith has done good job of providing a fairly representative round-up of the early days of money and the various ways in which is was managed or abused, He then continues into a more US focused history of money and looks at the effectiveness of monetary policy in dealing with periods of recession. He provides a very candid account of his and his contemporaries and near contemporaries role in economic policy making. He concludes with six points which essentially point out the failings of monetary policy as a sole lever in the economy and highlights the importance of combining monetary policy with fiscal policy to effect desired outcomes in the economy. Galbraith made the point that monetary policy may make available more money through banks by reducing official interest rates and loosening reserve requirements but fiscal policy was needed to encourage people to actually use this extra money made available.
In terms of style, Galbraith has used a conversational style with amusing anecdotes and opinions interspersed. sometimes though, you find yourself back tracking to get some of his points due to some of the sidelines and witty quips. Overall not impenetrable.
I would recommend reading this book. Textbooks I studied while studying various economics subjects lack the same colour and courage in discussing the subject matter and for the most part take monetary policy as gospel. This book gives a more balanced view.