The Bankers: 0the Next Generation the New Worlds Money Credit Banking Electronic Age

Martin Mayer, Author Dutton Books $29.95 (528p) ISBN 978-0-525-93865-1
Twenty-two years after his bestseller, The Bankers, Mayer returns with another kaleidoscopic look at the world of banking. While much is interesting here, the zigzag narrative can be tough to follow and seem oddly chatty. First, Mayer discusses the nature of money, the rise of checking--and perhaps its demise, because Europeans pay most of their bills through a central agency such as the post office--the emergence of credit cards and the potential for cash-value ""smart cards."" Then he reaches back to chart the history of banks and their civic role, the recent wave of bank mergers and banks' dicey ventures into computer-based trading, devoting a chapter to the demise of the British bank Barings. Next he examines the role of government, focusing on the S&L fiasco, in which banks were free to make bad loans while deposits were insured. Finally, Mayer looks at the future, where he sees traditional banks cutting jobs as they consolidate, relying on computers and plastic, and an increasing number of nonbanks (brokerage houses, etc.) performing banking duties. He suggests reforms to aid the poor, who are now shunned by banks, and predicts that new finance companies will take over some of banks' traditional lending roles; yet he does not offer specific proposals for regulation of banks' investment practices. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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