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Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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3. Business of Business

In 1922 U.S. President Calvin Coolidge famously observed: “The business of America is business.” The economist Thorstein Veblen saw a clear difference between industry, producing things, and business, making money from producing things. In the age of capital, business rapidly financialized.

Originally, business people invested in factories and businesses that produced and sold things. Now, in the twentieth century, business people sought to make money in ways not necessarily directly linked to the making of things. Speculators can make money from trading oil even if they do not actually produce, refine, or consume oil. They can make money irrespective of whether the oil business is good or bad, the price high or low. Business ...

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