In 2000, the total GDP of Earth was $36 trillion. At the start of 2007, it was $70 trillion. Today that growth has gone suddenly and sharply into decline.
John Lanchester travels with a cast of characters - including reckless bankers, snoozing regulators, complacent politicians, predatory lenders, credit-drunk spendthrifts, and innocent bystanders, to understand deeply and genuinely what is happening and why we feel the way we do.
©2010 John Lanchester (P)2010 WF Howes Ltd
"A valiant and genuinely amusing attempt to describe how finance came off the rails...written with a good heart and a lively intellectual curiosity. (Independent)
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"Elegance and charm, jazzing on a well-known theme"
I've read several books (Gillian Tett's Fools Gold, Michael Lewis's The Big Short, Gordon Brown's apology..) about the financial crisis, so I can't really say I learnt anything new from John Lanchester. However, I was richly amused and entertained by his whimsical and informal style. His wry wit and colloquial turn of phrase often had me laughing out loud. And it is a story so amazing, so profound and so ongoing (unfortunately) that it bears retelling a few times, in different registers, by different people. Mr Lanchester is a definite outsider. Son of an old fashioned (good/safe) banker, he read English and became a writer. He can take the 'man in the street' perspective, and uses analogies that make the whole episode both accessible and maximally absurd.
Normally I don't like narrators trying to mimic real characters (e.g. the voices of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan), but in this context - a rather theatrical book - it does more or less work. The narrator also manages to personify Mr Lanchester's animated and humorous style.
Recent exhortations in The Guardian that the time is now to stop reading fiction and start dipping into popular economics swayed me to give this one a try. I’m not going to stop reading fiction, and neither do I think (or, let’s be honest did I anticipate) that Lanchester has the authority of a Chomsky. But an honest endeavour in switching from fiction to faction is well rewarded - this is an informed and informing volume which has the added benefit of impeccable timing. It is important to understand the current economic environment and the insights provided here are wonderful, fresh and endlessly entertaining - but whether the prognosis goes far enough is a matter for further debate and consideration.
"Clear exposition of the financial crisis"
I enjoyed and learnt from this book. It sets out an admirably clear and concise history of the origins of the financial crisis; the author has a knack for explaining things simply, and for the telling analogy in describing such things a financial derivatives - you dont need to be an economist or a mathematician to understand them - and he balances the detail and the big picture very well; some nice touches of humour too. Towards the end of the book he does rather get on his soap box, and his ideas for avoiding similar crises in the future are a bit confusing and contradictory; for example he seems to think that Government could run banks better than bankers, which is more than a tad naive, I think. So four stars rather than five for me.
Narration is excellent; very well paced, which is very important with this sort of book, and nicely varied in tone so you dont get distracted or lose interest.
I listened to this book not long after listening to Michael Lewis' 'The Big Short', also available on Audible. Both books together paint a well rounded and intersting picture of what happened and who should shoulder the blame - worth getting if you're interested in the subject.
This is a really fascinating audiobook. Lanchester has done a excellent job of making the financial concepts accessible and explaining them in everyday terms. (I'm an engineer and have next to no knowledge of economics and finance). Occasionally he gets a little carried away with analogies in art & music, but it's rare and it doesn't get in the way of the story.
The narration is some of the best I've heard. If I were reading this on paper, I think I might have struggled to motivate myself to finish it because it's such an unfamiliar area to me. Having it read via audiobook made it so easy to just keep listening though and I'm glad I did. It's a fascinating story, superbly told and engagingly read.
Well worth a listen.
I worked in banking for over 30 years and found this audio book clear and easy to follow. I have listened to it a couple of times to remind myself why the global markets are in a mess.
I found the information up to date and esay to follow
The narrator's performance is spot on, neither boring or too excitable. Just what a book of this content needs.
I found myself shouting outloud in agreement with the book
I would recommend this book to anyone you don't need to be an economist to understand it !
"A easy explanation of why the worlds skint"
A very interesting explanation of why the banks caused the worlds recession. You will be amazed how stupid the system really was.
"Entertaining and Valuable"
This book is an entertaining and well researched description of the 2008 financial debacle based on good research, but still easy to listen to in this format.
Essential listening for all of us with bank accounts, mortgages etc - and for everyone else too. How and why the economic crash happened described in fascinating detail that keeps you riveted throughout. Never thought a books on finance could be so interesting or so easy ti listen to. Excellently read by the author.
"essential but witty"
This book has tackled a diificult subject and made it interesting and accessible. The author is very knowledgeable but he puts over his knowledge in a very clear and witty way.
I have been telling all my friends about it and I hope it has a well deserved sucess
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