So I bought Richard White’s Railroaded based on the interview Emily blogged about earlier, and so far I’m enjoying it. It can be a bit polemical (“He was an eclectic hater who hated people who often hated one another”) and by page 34 I’ve already gotten lost a few times in railroad finance jargon, but hopefully that’ll ease as I get further in the book.
Anyway, in the beginning the author makes reference to commonalities between today’s financial mess(es) and the intercontinentals. Here’s the first one I saw:
The Central Pacific and other transcontinental railroads, their bankers, and the syndicates together lured investors, who had first ventured into the financial markets during the Civil War, along the financial gangplank one small step at a time. Investors proceeded from government bonds to government-secured railroad bonds, to convertible bonds, to mortgage bonds vouched for by the same people who sold the government bonds, to a whole array of financial instruments, and from there, potentially, into the drink.