IT is a source of some shame that this correspondent's philosophy of money is not primarily derived from the genius of fellow countrymen Adam Smith or John Law but instead from Neil Diamond, that singing sage, who advised the world that ''money talks, but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk''.

Those sceptics who doubt the verbal dexterity of money may be convinced by the deeply felt assertion that it always says goodbye to me.

Felix Martin, with a marvellous facility, adds greatly to this personal store of knowledge that will never be described as a treasure chest. He holds degrees in classics, international relations and economics and has a doctorate in economics from Oxford University. He is thus qualified to tackle the subject but his greatest asset is his ability to write fluently and persuasively about a subject that has been mired in myth and misinterpretation.

He begins with a flourish, casually dismissing any notion that money was ever a substitute for the barter system. Money is a different beast entirely and it is necessary to understand its birth, growth and capacity to wound if economic problems are to be addressed in any meaningful way.

Martin bounds through his subject, casually throwing out fascinating observations on the Iliad, the Irish famine and quantum physics with the zest of a successful gambler tipping a casino doorman. However, the importance of the book should not be underestimated. It addresses matters that affect lives. Money, of course, is merely transferable credit. It has the curious quality that 97% of it does not exist in any physical form but this does not diminish its power to ravage the world with a devastating regularity.

The rhetoric of austerity, the reality of global hunger, the political squabbling over agendas all owe much to the awful truth that while most do not understand money, no one is able to control it.

The declaration of Thatchersim that the markets ''would decide'' was always imbecilic but the effects of that stance can now be viewed in their full 3D grotesqueness. This is a world where debt is parcelled together and people – educated people – queue up to buy it and then recoil in shock when it is revealed that snapping up the mortgages of a garage attendant in Louisiana who has seven properties, most made out of tar paper and costing a combined hundreds of thousands of dollars,  may not be the wisest investment.

The result of this state-approved madness is that capitalism causes huge disruption and money is the virus that paralyses us all.

It is, too, the disease that resists eradication. The bankers, or more accurately, the banksters, move immediately from ruin to claiming again the million-pound personal bonuses.

The system is seen to have survived, ready to flourish again. Yet this model, one that brings financial depressions and recessions consistently, has resisted any substantial change. It is, however, bust.

Martin brilliantly exposes that the most recent financial collapse caused almost universal suffering except to, yup, the banking system that caused the whole disaster in the first place. The banks, he states simply, received ''something for nothing''.

This fate is elusive for most of the rest of us who are the victims of a system that is, at best, capricious and, at worst, so flawed that regular financial depression is not just to be guarded against but to be expected.

This is the most stark, brilliant and chilling central theme to Martin's extraordinary book. What if it is the system itself that produces crises?  What if money, which is only confidence in another form, does not deserve the faith we put in it? What if it is not just the corrupt or avaricious or incompetent human beings who are to blame but money itself and the unsustainable demands it makes on economies?

What if the very understanding of the system and how it works is just plain wrong and it can not be fixed?

The first reverberations of the crash of the noughties had just been felt when this was said by a personality who looked at economics with a stunned incomprehension.

''I found a flaw. I have been very distressed by that fact. I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works."

This awful realisation was made by Alan Greenspan, the longest serving chairman of the Federal Reserve and perhaps the most influential and knowledgable figure about the workings of the global economy in the two decades leading up to the crash.

Not only did he not see the catastrophe coming but he fears the system's failures mean it must happen again. And again. Mr Greenspan is defeated and demoralised. 

Over to you, Mr Diamond.