Lying for Money: How Legendary Frauds Reveal the Workings of the World

Scribner. Mar. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781982114930. $28. CRIME
Former economist Davies explores financial fraud—crimes that exploit the trust that allows the markets to function. Examining major types of fraud, including counterfeits, cooked books, and market crimes, he details cases such as the Portuguese Banknote Affair of 1925, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and Elizabeth Holmes’s fraudulent health care company Theranos. However, Davies fails to tie his many examples together into a compelling narrative. Perhaps in an attempt to make potentially dense, challenging content more accessible, the author writes in a light, often jokey tone, reminiscent of his Twitter presence; this often comes across as callous, given that the crimes he discusses had devastating effects, and that many of the perpetrators have gone unpunished due to their racial and economic privilege.
VERDICT General readers will be interested in many of the examples of fraud, but those without a background in finance might struggle with jargon or the lack of central narrative.
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