The Everyman’s Guide to Economic Lingo: A Review of ‘How to Speak Money’

“How to Speak Money” by John Lanchester is a book that aims to demystify the complex world of financial jargon and economic language for the layperson. Lanchester, with his characteristic wit and clarity, provides a roadmap to understanding the terminology that often confounds those not steeped in the world of finance.

The book functions not just as a glossary of terms but also as a critique of the financial industry’s penchant for obfuscation. Lanchester argues that the language of money is deliberately exclusive, designed to keep ordinary people at a distance and to conceal the realities of what is happening with their money.

Throughout the book, he breaks down key concepts, phrases, and acronyms that populate financial newspapers, reports, and television programs. From “hedge funds” to “quantitative easing,” Lanchester provides clear, concise definitions and explanations. He also provides historical context for how this language has developed and why it matters, presenting the idea that language is not just a means of communication but also a tool of power.

Moreover, Lanchester offers a broader commentary on the financial industry’s impact on the economy and society. He argues that the 2008 financial crisis revealed the dangers of a system that few understand and calls for greater transparency and literacy in financial matters.

In summary, “How to Speak Money” is both an educational resource and a call to action. It aims to empower readers with the knowledge to navigate the financial landscape and to engage with economic issues with confidence. It is a book that seeks to bring the conversation about money out of the shadows and into the light, where it can be examined, questioned, and understood by all.

About The Author Of ‘How To Speak Money’

John Lanchester is an author and journalist known for his books that bridge the world of economics and literature. Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962 to an English father and an Irish mother, he was educated at the UK’s elite institutions, including Gresham’s School and St John’s College, Oxford.

Lanchester has a multifaceted career. He has been a contributing editor to the London Review of Books and a regular contributor to The New Yorker. His journalistic work is often centered around the topics of finance, economics, and the impact of the global financial crisis. His writing is notable for its accessibility and clarity, as he often tackles complex economic issues in a way that is understandable to the general reader.

In addition to “How to Speak Money,” Lanchester has written several other books, including the critically acclaimed “Capital,” a novel that captures the lives of residents on a fictional street in London in the era of the financial crisis, and “The Debt to Pleasure,” which is a Whitbread Book Awards-winning novel. His non-fiction works like “Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay” (titled “I.O.U.” in the United States) also deal with the financial crisis and its aftermath.

Lanchester is recognized for his ability to infuse his understanding of the financial world into engaging storytelling, whether in fiction that explores the social implications of economic change or in non-fiction aimed at elucidating the often opaque language and concepts of finance.

Who Should Read ‘How To Speak Money’?

The intended audience for “How to Speak Money” is anyone who feels perplexed or excluded by the specialized and often confusing language of finance and economics. John Lanchester wrote this book for people who wish to understand financial terms and concepts that are commonly encountered in the media, in their personal finances, or in general conversation about the economy, but who do not necessarily have a background in these areas. Essentially, it’s for the curious layperson who desires to navigate the financial aspects of the world with more confidence and comprehension.

How Can Reading How To Speak Money Benefit The Average Person?

Reading “How to Speak Money” can benefit the average person by enhancing their understanding of financial concepts and terms that are often encountered in daily life. This understanding empowers people to make more informed decisions about their personal finances, to follow economic developments with greater clarity, and to participate more confidently in discussions about financial matters that can affect their livelihoods and futures. Furthermore, it equips individuals with the knowledge to see through the sometimes deliberate complexities of financial language, allowing for a better grasp of how the financial system influences their own economic well-being.

Reading “How to Speak Money” will provide readers with a clearer understanding of financial language, which is a crucial component of economics. While the book isn’t a textbook on economic theory, getting familiar with the terminology used in economic discussions can indeed make someone more adept at understanding economic principles and debates. By breaking down complex terms and phrases into understandable language, John Lanchester gives readers the tools to better grasp the economic information they encounter in the media, in academic discussions, or in their personal financial dealings.

Therefore, while the book might not make someone an expert in economics, it certainly helps lay a foundation for better comprehension and engagement with economic topics, which is a significant step towards becoming better at economics. It helps bridge the gap between the expert discourse in the field and the layperson’s understanding, which can inspire readers to further their education in economics if they wish to delve deeper into the subject.

Why Does The Average Reader Need To Know About Quantitative Easing?

The average reader needs to know about quantitative easing because it is a central banking strategy that can significantly affect the economy’s health and, as a result, the financial well-being of individuals. When central banks implement quantitative easing, it usually leads to changes in interest rates, which can influence everything from mortgage rates to the returns on savings accounts. It also can affect employment levels, the strength of the currency, and the cost of goods and services. A basic understanding of quantitative easing can thus help the average person make sense of economic news, understand the broader economic climate, and make more informed financial decisions in their own lives.

Does It Make Sense For Regular People To Read How To Speak Money If They Are Not Going To Use That Info In Their Daily Lives?

It makes sense for regular people to read “How to Speak Money” even if they do not directly apply the information in their daily lives. Knowledge of financial terminology and concepts enriches an individual’s understanding of the world. It enables a deeper comprehension of news and events that impact the global economy, which, in one way or another, affects everyone. Additionally, the insights gained may indirectly influence decisions and perspectives about politics, society, and personal finance, fostering a more critically engaged citizenry.


John Lanchester’s “How to Speak Money” and Friar Luca Pacioli‘s contributions to the field of accounting, particularly through his work on double-entry bookkeeping, are connected by the thread of demystifying complex financial concepts for a broader audience.

Lanchester’s book aims to decode the often opaque language of finance and economics for the lay reader. Similarly, Pacioli’s work on double-entry bookkeeping helped standardize financial record-keeping, making it more comprehensible and reliable, which was revolutionary in making business transactions and the recording of financial information more transparent and understandable.

The conclusion one could draw about “How to Speak Money” in relation to Friar Luca Pacioli is that both serve to educate and empower individuals regarding financial matters. Just as Pacioli’s teachings provided the tools necessary for businesspeople of his time to engage with and understand their financial affairs properly, Lanchester’s book equips modern readers with the knowledge to interpret and articulate economic and financial matters confidently.

They both contribute to the goal of financial literacy and elucidation, albeit in different eras and through different means. Pacioli’s influence is in the fundamental practices of accounting, while Lanchester’s is in the language of contemporary money and economics.

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