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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Google Books

this is something I wrote a few weeks ago, in mid-Jan, originally as an e-mail to a friend who works in publishing. but figured it worked better as a blog post:

I just had my 1st real experience w/ Google Books. It's pretty amazing, really. Here's how it came about:

On a Wed afternoon, was prominently featuring preview from the upcoming Sunday Magazine--a profile of Ben Bernanke, written by Roger Lowenstein.

Lowenstein sounded familiar, b/c he'd written the big book on Long Term Capital Management, "When Genius Failed." That plus a couple other titles turned up as book search results when I did a (regular) google search on him:

I followed the link to another one of his books, "The Origins of the Crash: The Great Bubble and Its Undoing." That caught my eye b/c the title seems timely, even though it was published in '04--it's about the great equity (stock market) bubble of the '90s.

(Which really was remarkable run--earlier in the day I happened to be looking at some graphs of the S&P500..unfort only goes back to 2001, but here's a chart from Yahoo Finance:
Though that chart is not as striking b/c it's on some sort of log scale)

So I started reading the 1st chapter off of Google, which was pretty cool. Some pages were omitted here and there, so you can't read the whole thing, but still..

(Another tangential thought that all this reminded me of: someone should publish a book on the origins of this crash, i.e., in the housing and credit markets, which encompass the history (and future) of securitization). The ideal guy to write it would prob be Michael Lewis..)

But that got me thinking about another finance book I've been wanting to read. I found that you can you not only read the whole book on Google--the pdf is available for download:

"Lombard St: A Description of a Money Market" by Walter Bagehot

Bagehot was one of the first editors of The Economist, 1860-1877; he published "Lombard St" in 1873. The version you can read or download from Google is a scan of a 1896 edition that's in the Univ of Michigan library.

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