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Will the sun set on the greatest currency in the history of the world? For decades the dollar has been the undisputed champ. It’s not only the currency of America but much of the world as well, the fuel of global prosperity. As the superengine of the world’s only superpower, it’s accepted everywhere. When an Asian company trades with South America, those transactions are do Will the sun set on the greatest currency in the history of the world? For decades the dollar has been the undisputed champ. It’s not only the currency of America but much of the world as well, the fuel of global prosperity. As the superengine of the world’s only superpower, it’s accepted everywhere. When an Asian company trades with South America, those transactions are done in dollars, the currency of international business. But for how much longer? Economists fear America is digging a hole with an economy based on massive borrowing and huge deficits that cloud the dollar’s future. Will the buck be eclipsed by the euro or even China’s renminbi? Should Americans worry when the value of the mighty U.S. dollar sinks to par with the Canadian “loonie”? Craig Karmin’s in-depth “biography” of the dollar explores these issues. It also examines the green-back’s history, allure, and unique role as a catalyst for globalization, and how the American buck became so almighty that $ became perhaps the most powerful symbol on earth. Biography of the Dollar explores every aspect of its subject: the power of the Federal Reserve, the inner sanctums of foreign central banks that stockpile the currency, and the little-known circles of foreign exchange traders that determine a currency’s worth. It traces the dollar’s ascendancy, including one incredibly important duck-hunting trip and the world-changing Bretton Woods Conference. With its watermark, color-shifting inks, and a presidential portrait that glows under ultraviolet light, the dollar has obsessed foreign governments, some of which have tried to counterfeit it. Even Saddam Hussein, who insisted on being paid in euros for oil, had $750,000 in hundred-dollar bills when captured. Yet if a worldwide currency has enabled a global economy to flourish, it’s also allowed the United States to owe unbelievable, shocking amounts of money—paying hundreds of millions of dollars every single day just in interest on foreign debt; that’s raised concerns that the dollar standard may not be sustainable. Any threat to the dollar’s privileged status would do much more than hurt American pride. It would mean U.S. companies and citizens would not be able to borrow at the low rates they have become accustomed to. The dollar’s demise would impact the rest of the world, too, boosting the costs of trade and investment if no other currency was able to play the same crucial role. Ultimately the dollar system may weaken, but it should endure—a while longer, at least; it’s in few people’s interest to see it fail, and there is still no credible alternative. Biography of the Dollar is must reading for anyone who wants to understand what truly makes the world go ’round—and whether it will continue to spin the way we want it to. From the Hardcover edition.


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Will the sun set on the greatest currency in the history of the world? For decades the dollar has been the undisputed champ. It’s not only the currency of America but much of the world as well, the fuel of global prosperity. As the superengine of the world’s only superpower, it’s accepted everywhere. When an Asian company trades with South America, those transactions are do Will the sun set on the greatest currency in the history of the world? For decades the dollar has been the undisputed champ. It’s not only the currency of America but much of the world as well, the fuel of global prosperity. As the superengine of the world’s only superpower, it’s accepted everywhere. When an Asian company trades with South America, those transactions are done in dollars, the currency of international business. But for how much longer? Economists fear America is digging a hole with an economy based on massive borrowing and huge deficits that cloud the dollar’s future. Will the buck be eclipsed by the euro or even China’s renminbi? Should Americans worry when the value of the mighty U.S. dollar sinks to par with the Canadian “loonie”? Craig Karmin’s in-depth “biography” of the dollar explores these issues. It also examines the green-back’s history, allure, and unique role as a catalyst for globalization, and how the American buck became so almighty that $ became perhaps the most powerful symbol on earth. Biography of the Dollar explores every aspect of its subject: the power of the Federal Reserve, the inner sanctums of foreign central banks that stockpile the currency, and the little-known circles of foreign exchange traders that determine a currency’s worth. It traces the dollar’s ascendancy, including one incredibly important duck-hunting trip and the world-changing Bretton Woods Conference. With its watermark, color-shifting inks, and a presidential portrait that glows under ultraviolet light, the dollar has obsessed foreign governments, some of which have tried to counterfeit it. Even Saddam Hussein, who insisted on being paid in euros for oil, had $750,000 in hundred-dollar bills when captured. Yet if a worldwide currency has enabled a global economy to flourish, it’s also allowed the United States to owe unbelievable, shocking amounts of money—paying hundreds of millions of dollars every single day just in interest on foreign debt; that’s raised concerns that the dollar standard may not be sustainable. Any threat to the dollar’s privileged status would do much more than hurt American pride. It would mean U.S. companies and citizens would not be able to borrow at the low rates they have become accustomed to. The dollar’s demise would impact the rest of the world, too, boosting the costs of trade and investment if no other currency was able to play the same crucial role. Ultimately the dollar system may weaken, but it should endure—a while longer, at least; it’s in few people’s interest to see it fail, and there is still no credible alternative. Biography of the Dollar is must reading for anyone who wants to understand what truly makes the world go ’round—and whether it will continue to spin the way we want it to. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for The Biography of a Dollar: How Mr. Greenback Greases the Skids of America and the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I wish I had a stronger finance/economic background to better appreciate this book, but even so, it's a fairly accessible and quite interesting (if at times depressing) look at global economies through the lens of the dollar.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    Tim ferriss recommendation

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brittney

    Wonderful book. I would love to read an updated version

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stefan

    "Biography Of The Dollar: How The Mighty Buck Conquered The World And Why It's Under Siege" is an interesting look at the American currency and its position in the world economy. Karmin approaches the subject from a number of perspectives. One chapter provides a fascinating look into the world of currency exchange trading, and describes how some firms can very strongly affect the economies of countries by making trades against their currencies. Another chapter looks at the history of currency in "Biography Of The Dollar: How The Mighty Buck Conquered The World And Why It's Under Siege" is an interesting look at the American currency and its position in the world economy. Karmin approaches the subject from a number of perspectives. One chapter provides a fascinating look into the world of currency exchange trading, and describes how some firms can very strongly affect the economies of countries by making trades against their currencies. Another chapter looks at the history of currency in the US, from the free banking era to the current day, and also looks at the issue of counterfeiting. Another part of the book looks at the country of Ecuador, which made the decision, in the face of burgeoning devaluation, to abandon its own currency and replace it entirely with the dollar, effectively turning it into what the author calls a "dollar colony". Most importantly, the book also deals with the amount of foreign debt the US has racked up, now at such a level that the country pays 1 million in foreign interest for every man, woman and child in the US. At this point, careless remarks by, say, the head of the Central Bank of Korea, can cause huge sell-offs leading to severe loss of value for the dollar (as happened just a few years ago), and if the floodgates ever really open, the collapse of the currency could lead to nothing less than global economic collapse. It's scary to think how realistic that scenario is. The book is written in a crisp, easy-to-read style and at a level where most people with even the most basic grasp of economic principles (i.e. me) can understand and learn from it. It's a very informative and surprisingly enjoyable read, given the subject.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maryellen

    This is the store of the dollar and how it became a world currency, how it effects markets and how that effects the United States. The story itself is like the stock market. Sometimes riveting, sometimes depressing, sometimes confusing, sometimes awe inspiring and not always understandable. Yet, the dollar is an amazing force in the world. Karmin tries to make the story understandable and for the most part he does a pretty good job. Parts of the book get repetitive and he spends too much time on This is the store of the dollar and how it became a world currency, how it effects markets and how that effects the United States. The story itself is like the stock market. Sometimes riveting, sometimes depressing, sometimes confusing, sometimes awe inspiring and not always understandable. Yet, the dollar is an amazing force in the world. Karmin tries to make the story understandable and for the most part he does a pretty good job. Parts of the book get repetitive and he spends too much time on Ecuador's dollarization. If you have any interest in this story this book would be a good place to start.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    This is by far one of my favorite books in my finance/economics collection. Whether you have a doctorates degree or a high school diploma, this book is written in a way anyone can understand. The chapter "Fishing in the 3 trillion dollar pond" paints an exciting picture of what it would be like to be a currency trader on the edge betting large for pension funds and big time investors. Other chapters cover history of the Dollar from the Civil War to Bretton Woods and beyond, the U.S. Bureau of Pr This is by far one of my favorite books in my finance/economics collection. Whether you have a doctorates degree or a high school diploma, this book is written in a way anyone can understand. The chapter "Fishing in the 3 trillion dollar pond" paints an exciting picture of what it would be like to be a currency trader on the edge betting large for pension funds and big time investors. Other chapters cover history of the Dollar from the Civil War to Bretton Woods and beyond, the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving, and more. I have read this book 5 times from front to back and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Converse

    Chapters on how currency trading works (this was the first chapter & worst, no explanation of the jargon), printing bills, Ecuador's adoption of the $ as its currency, foreign government holdings of dollars. I had no idea currency market is ten times the size of the world stock markets & that about 90% of transactions involve dollars. Chapters on how currency trading works (this was the first chapter & worst, no explanation of the jargon), printing bills, Ecuador's adoption of the $ as its currency, foreign government holdings of dollars. I had no idea currency market is ten times the size of the world stock markets & that about 90% of transactions involve dollars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stan

    An interesting book but it could have been 100 pages shorter. He takes a long time to get to the point, like so many authors do these days. It would be interesting to see an updated version of the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric Stiffler

    Another difficult read for me. This enticing book was hard for me to read because this was the year I began to read a lot for the first time in my adult life. I would recommend this to my well read friends.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    just a great info read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julie Block

    I read this for a class, to help me for a research paper and for a financial book, it was a surprisingly good read, would I read it again? Ummm no...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    Much better understanding of what happened with Bretton Woods and the Gold Standard after reading this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Not a lot of new information. Balanced perspective on the dollar's past, present and potential future in the global economy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    Informative, interesting, but could be quite sum-up-y toward the end of each chapter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ints

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pranjal Padmapati

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andy Arnold

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charles E

  20. 4 out of 5

    Syed

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jack Reasoner

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mario Hernandez A

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jon Hill

  24. 4 out of 5

    hriday sarmah

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eloise Parker

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dov

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Affan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steven Prow

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roberto

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