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The Exchange Artist

A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse

Jane Kamensky - Author

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ISBN 9781101202777 | 464 pages | 24 Jan 2008 | Penguin | 18 - AND UP
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The riveting story of the country's first banking scandal in the first decades of the American republic

This enthralling historical narrative of the birth of speculative capitalism in America opens in the 1790s when financial pioneer-turned-confidence-man Andrew Dexter, Jr. created a pyramid scheme founded on real estate speculation and the greed of banks, who freely printed the paper money he needed to finance the then tallest building in the United States-the Exchange Coffee House, a 153-room, seven-story colossus in downtown Boston. The story of Dexter's rise and eventual collapse offered an object lesson to the rising young nation, and presents striking parallels to the subprime mortgage meltdown and looming economic collapse of today.

"There is a very evident enthusiasm of discovery in Kamensky's The Exchange Artist that animates her narrative of a high-flying developer and the banks and investors dragged down by his overreaching need for money to build his towering dream."
-The Boston Globe

"This shrewd and eloquent biography of a building, a man, and the speculative culture they reflect is bound to delight as well as disturb."
-Walter A. McDougall, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Heavens and the Earth


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