'Dark side' of global bankers a top draw

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2007, 12:00am

Don't you know the US Federal Reserve is a private central bank? Why did Wall Street venture capitalists choose to prop up Adolf Hitler? Why have American presidents been assassinated at a rate higher than the death rate of soldiers during the Normandy landing? If you believe Currency Wars - a best-seller in the mainland - international bankers would have been behind the plots that manipulated political and economic developments in the west in the past 300 years because they control currency issuance rights.

As much as it sounds more like required reading for Conspiracy Theory 101, the book has sold 200,000 copies across the nation since its launch in June, with an estimated 400,000 pirated copies in circulation , according to its publisher China Citic Press.

Not only is it being snapped up by a public hungry to know how to cash in on the booming assets markets, its readers include senior government officials, business executives, academics and finance-sector staff shocked by the book's findings and swayed by its warnings.

Currency Wars author Song Hongbing, an IT consultant and amateur historian based in Washington, said in his blog that he did not expect the book to be such a commercial success.

He said his interest was aroused three years ago when he tried to uncover what lay behind the 1997 Asian financial crisis and was shocked to discover the Fed was a privately owned and run bank.

He vividly depicts the assassinations of US presidents, the rises and falls of prominent western economists and the two world wars, attributing the events to the action of influential bankers. To avoid similar tragedies, Beijing should be very cautious in opening up the finance sector, Song writes.

'The opening of the finance sector is a Currency War. Lack of the awareness and preparation is China's biggest risk!' he says.

Readers schooled in conspiracy theory would notice that the author uses weak logic and poor evidence to a sensational effect but his ideas are new to most mainlanders reined in by limited press freedom.

And the timing of the publication is fortuitous, with growing worries about unbalanced and unsustainable growth and the potential bursting of the stock and property bubbles. It comes amid fierce argument about whether the mainland is opening up too quickly and too broadly.

Part of the book's popularity is due to controversies around its content and claims circulating in online chat rooms that the author has copied ideas from the 1995 US documentary, The Money Masters. Some academics have suggested the publisher is misleading the public by categorising the volume as a history book, given that it is a work of fiction.

Whatever its academic virtues, the book is giving the general reader a window to the world, one in which international bankers and not the mainland's emerging economic power are the threat.