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Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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5. Yellow Brick Road

Money transformed cities and entire countries. Financial centers replaced industrial and trading districts in importance. New York, London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore emerged as major financial centers. Because trading is electronic, location did not matter. The convergence of financiers to particular locations reflected English economist Alfred Marshall’s 1890 observation: “The mysteries of the trade become no mystery, but are, as it were, in the air.”1

The players did not make things or trade goods. Instead, they traded trillions of dollars, euros, yen, bonds, shares, commodities, and derivatives. Much of the activity did not generate true value or represent direct additions to the goods and services produced ...

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