Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Money Changers (Published in 1975) by Arthur Hailey, focusing on the world of banks and money

Arthur Hailey was born in Lutton, Bedford-shire, England. He served in the Royal Air force as a pilot in World War II. He migrated to Canada and has written best sellers like Airport, Wheels and Hotel. He moved to the Bahamas with his writer wife Sheila. Arthur Hailey died on November, 2004 leaving a legacy of best sellers and over 170 million books in print.
Moneychangers is not only about money, it is about all the effects of money i.e. power, greed, affairs, isolation, loneliness etc. In Money Changers, Hailey tries to present the dynamics of banking. As usual a detailed prelude emerges about the principles of banking, the economics, ethics and above all the operations. He even makes the reader familiar with fake currencies, fraud credit cards and the risk of investment. Towards the end of the book he even explains about the advantages of investments in bullion.
The first Mercantile bank (FMA) is a family run bank and the current chairman Ben Roselli is fatally ill. He is grooming two vice-presidents of the company, Alex Vandervoot and Roscoe Hayward, as his successors. Alex Vandervoot is an honest, principled albeit easy-going person. But his banking fundamentals are strong and he feels that the future of banking lies in retail banking. He believes in giving back to the society and does not believe in risking the banks credibility to bring in the gains.

What is Hailey's book without a love and personal angle? Alex Vandervoot's personal life is in shambles. His once lovely wife is confined to a psychiatric facility and he himself fees very guilty about it. He chances upon Margot Bracken, a hard nosed activist lawyer who works for the underprivileged community. To compound matters, the First Mercantile American withdraws financial assistance from some of the projects of the community. Margot's spirited non-violent protest becomes a success, but Alex's detractors pin him down to the wall. They feel that Alex has been assisting Margot to pressurize the bank.
Roscoe Hayward, on the other hand, is a very religious, rigid person. He believes that the future profits of the bank lie with big business lending. He does not believe in charity and community projects. Roscoe teams up with a corrupt businessman and undertakes to lend big loans to him. In return for this, he strikes alliances with politicians and is treated to all the pleasure in the world.
But as the businessman defaults and flees the country, Roscoe is left with a huge crisis. This financial crisis threatens to engulf the whole system, setting up a panic reaction among the shareholders, stakeholders, employees and the stock market. Roscoe Hayward faced with criminal offenses commits suicide, paving the way for Alex Vandervoot to take over the ruined financial institution.
Money Changers is a book about the power struggle between two individuals, but Hailey's research gives the lowdown on the other operatives like mafia, currency rackets and fraudsters who at every stage try to undermine the system. Money Changers is a book for a banking student and a simple layman who does not understand numbers. It is an engrossing tale about the institution which determines the fate of millions in the world – the bank.

The Money changers (Published in 1975) by Arthur Hailey, focusing on the world of banks and money

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