Book Review: Banking And Financial Institutions

by: David Merkel, CFA

Many readers ask me for a good book on financial institutions, and this is a good one, if limited to depositary financials, not including insurance companies and asset managers.

This is a comprehensive book for depositary financials, even covering Islamic finance, which I will admit I learned from it. It is a good thing to understand in depth those with whom you disagree. Islamic finance imbibes the errors of Aristotle, who deemed money to be sterile. Why force everyone into a mold where there can't be loans at interest? Why restrict that freedom?

But that is a small part of the book. Most of the book deals with how banks operate. It is very good at describing how banks create profitable lending, and how they act within regulatory boundaries.

It's a good book, and I recommend it to all.


That said, there were many small errors in the book, which if the author had been an intelligent bond trader, the errors would not have been in the book.

As an example, on page 32, he called an MBS to be a CDO. Yes, in an attenuated way that might be so, but for professionals that know the market, we would never phrase it that way.

Who would benefit from this book: Almost anyone will benefit from this book, but those who will benefit most are those who analyze banks.

Full disclosure: The publisher sent me the book after he offered me a review copy.