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After the Great Complacence: Financial Crisis and the Politics of Reform Hardcover – 29 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (29 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199589089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199589081
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 2.3 x 15.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 470,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

In After the Great Complacence, Engelen et al. have powerfully captured the reinvention of contemporary financial institutions associated with the emergence of more complex and risky finance leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. (Dean Curran, The British Sociological Association)

Among the growing body of scholarship on the global financial crisis, After the Great Complacence stands out for the sophistication and ingenuity of its insights. This engaging book produced by a team of researchers associated with the University of Manchesters Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change presents an impressive interdisciplinary analysis of the origins of the crisis and the prospects of finance reform. (Chris F Wright, Work Employment and Society)

[A]n interesting and thought-provoking read for academics, practitioners and interested lay readers alike. (Liam Stanley, Political Studies Review)

Masterly ... should be read by every policy-maker currently engaged in the rhetoric of "rebalancing". (Paul Mason, The Guardian)

A very important book ... an indispensible tool to counter the propaganda of the City and its friends in politics and the media. (Ian Sinclair, Tribune)

It's excellent and important. Absolutely essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how Britain's financial sector got out of control ... a landmark in this field. (Nick Shaxson, author of the Treasure Island)

There have been many books about the financial crisis but very few as original and incisive as this one. This is a book which really ought to be read not only by academics but also by industry representatives and policy makers in order to make sure that the kind of hubris displayed in the early 2000s, born out of a curious mixture of elite miscalculation and misbegotten premises, never again becomes an article of faith. (Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick)

With the post-crisis financial reform process at an impasse the book looks at the historical causes of the crisis. Its focus on elite power control of central banking and regulation is a refreshing alternative to macro-economic narratives. This is essential and disturbing reading for anybody concerned about the relationship between financial power and democracy. (Paul Mason, Economics Editor, BBC Newsnight)

By taking a sideways swipe at the idea of the period before the financial crisis being the "great moderation" this book provides a convincing narrative for this being the "great complacence" instead. It suggests that this was a period of unprecedented hubris on the part of the political and economic elites, and that the resulting crisis was not an accident, not a disaster, not a catastrophe, nor a fiasco, but a genuine political debacle. The book argues that elites failed to appreciate the financial system as a bricolage of excess, disconnects, anomalies, and contradictions, with the result that this ramshackle assemblage collapsed around them and us with devastating consequences. Angry and compelling, this book demands to be read as a clear-headed alternative account of the run up to this critical period and its aftermath. (Grahame F. Thompson, Copenhagen Business School)

This book offers a brilliant discussion of the relationship between finance and politics and it should be on the reading list of any economist. (Daniela Gabor, Economic Issues)

About the Author

This book is written by an interdisciplinary team based at the ESRC funded Centre for Research on Socio Cultural change at the University of Manchester. The authors are collectively best known for their pioneering work on financialization including team written books such as J. Froud et al, Financialization and Strategy (2006), I Ertürk et al, Financialization at Work (2008) and M. Savage and K. Williams, Elites Remembered (2008). Several of the authors also publish individually within their disciplines with books such as M. Moran, The British Regulatory State (2007) and Business, Politics, and Society (2009).

Ewald Engelen is Professor of Financial Geography at the University of Amsterdam. Ismail Ertürk is Senior Lecturer in Innovation, Management, and Policy at the Manchester Business School Julie Froud is Professor of Financial Innovation at Manchester Business School Sukhdev Johal is Reader in Strategy and Business Analysis, Royal Holloway Adam Leaver is Lecturer in Business Analysis, Manchester Business School Michael Moran is WJM MacKenzie Professor, the University of Manchester Adriana Nilsson, Post Doctoral Fellow, Manchester Business School Karel Williams, Professor of Accounting and Political Economy, Manchester Business School

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The aim of this book is to convince its readers (elites? politicians? The Public?) that the finance sector must be brought under "democratic control" -- an idea the implications of which however are left somewhat vague, though their main point seems to be that banking should be simplified, and "financial innovation" curbed. The book's premise is that the 'global financial crisis' should be understood as an "elite debacle". This is at the same time quite right, and very wrong. (More on that anon.) They proceed by analyzing the mental conceptions or narratives that made the deregulation that made the crisis possible palatable -- think here of notions like the 'Great Moderation' and the 'Washington Consensus', the social value of finance and the 'democratization' of finance, as well as of the increasing analytic centrality of notions like market efficiency and actor rationality. Specifically, they argue that this happened via a process of 'mystification' of finance (it seems to me more or less correctly, although it is unclear to me why they ignore the question of whether the academics contributing to this mystifying process were acting in good or bad faith).

Such 'narrative analysis' can be fairly illuminating (if the narratives are understood and described correctly), and the book fairly convincingly explains why (and provides an out for) so (the) many actors (who) were apparently helping create this 'new', and increasingly unstable, system. Moreover, they also give a correct high-level explanation for why entrenched elites were capable of stymieing all attempts at systemic reform: because the few who wanted it at all, lacked a proper narrative to convince the others with.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 21 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Even before the crisis, Britain's private sector was unable to create enough jobs. There were 7 million manufacturing jobs in 1979, 4 million in 1997 and 2.8 million in 2008.

From 1996 to 2008 business investment was flat at 10 per cent of GDP; bank lending to productive business fell from 30 per cent to 10 per cent, while bank lending to other financial firms and to property developers soared.

The transfer of 750,000 jobs from the public to the private sector accounted for 71 per cent of the apparent increase in private sector jobs between 1979 and 1997. Under Labour, increased spending on health and education accounted for 37 per cent of job growth (61 per cent in the West Midlands, 43 per cent in Wales and 46 per cent in Scotland). Privatisation and outsourcing led to an expansion of state funding for private employers, as in nursery education and services for the elderly - 1.7 million jobs.

In 2007, the OECD's chief economist forecast `a strong and sustained recovery in Europe'.

The authors argue that the economic crisis was not an accident but a debacle, like the Iraqi and Afghan war disasters and the euro. As they note, "two debacles collided as the financial crisis crashed into European Monetary Union." They observe that neither the euro, nor the European Central Bank nor the EU was any use in the crisis. The euro no more reduced the risks on government debt than all the securitization and special financial vehicles reduced the risks of investment.

The bailout cost the British taxpayer £1,183 billion in loans and guarantees (not all used) - £46,700 per household. Public debt rose from 36.5 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 63.6 per cent in 2010, the public sector deficit from £634 billion to £890 billion.
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By Banker on 9 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Top drawer academic read. Different perspective on the financial crisis asking thereafter to think on a socio political level for answers rather than the more orthodox argument on crisis of hubristic elite, complex product, technological disaster, financial engineering, and regulatory failure. We must look to develop standards of both international accounting and international and regulation governing on a global level that all countries buy into in our now globalised world, only this can provide a framework for the future.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Questor on 15 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
An extremely valuable contribution to the current concerns about global finance. The studies are rigorously sourced, the arguments presented with clarity and precision. Essential reading at the present time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent study of our current economic situation 21 Feb. 2012
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Even before the crisis, Britain's private sector was unable to create enough jobs. There were 7 million manufacturing jobs in 1979, 4 million in 1997 and 2.8 million in 2008.

From 1996 to 2008 business investment was flat at 10 per cent of GDP; bank lending to productive business fell from 30 per cent to 10 per cent, while bank lending to other financial firms and to property developers soared.

The transfer of 750,000 jobs from the public to the private sector accounted for 71 per cent of the apparent increase in private sector jobs between 1979 and 1997. Under Labour, increased spending on health and education accounted for 37 per cent of job growth (61 per cent in the West Midlands, 43 per cent in Wales and 46 per cent in Scotland). Privatisation and outsourcing led to an expansion of state funding for private employers, as in nursery education and services for the elderly - 1.7 million jobs.

In 2007, the OECD's chief economist forecast `a strong and sustained recovery in Europe'.

The authors argue that the economic crisis was not an accident but a debacle, like the Iraqi and Afghan war disasters and the euro. As they note, "two debacles collided as the financial crisis crashed into European Monetary Union." They observe that neither the euro, nor the European Central Bank nor the EU was any use in the crisis. The euro no more reduced the risks on government debt than all the securitization and special financial vehicles reduced the risks of investment.

The bailout cost the British taxpayer £1,183 billion in loans and guarantees (not all used) - £46,700 per household. Public debt rose from 36.5 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 63.6 per cent in 2010, the public sector deficit from £634 billion to £890 billion.

Globally, the crisis cost between one and five times 2009's world output, in terms of output lost now and in the future: $60-200 trillion for the world's economies, £1.8 -7.4 trillion for Britain's. Globally, the crisis destroyed at least 30 million jobs and cost $3 trillion in extra public spending, to bail out the banks.

The authors write, "Finance is not only an economically unsafe and violently pro-cyclical sector but also part of a democracy that is not working." It is hardly a democracy at all: as they note, "the privatization of gains and the socialization of losses usually indicate the presence of an uncontrolled and predatory elite."

Indeed, the finance sector is not adding value but extracting rent. Much financial innovation was worse than `socially useless', it actually harms the economy. This sector is built on tax avoidance: from 2002 to 2008, tax receipts from finance were just £193 billion, only 6.8 per cent of the total, half what manufacturing industry paid. Finance employs just a million people, 4 per cent of workers, no more than in 1991.

The government is still running banks for shareholder value, the model responsible for the crisis. Rather than the government nationalising some banks, it has privatised the Treasury into being a new kind of investment fund.

It is not just the free movement of capital that is bad for us. The free movement of labour is bad for us too: as the authors observe, "mass inward migration ... kept downward pressure on labour costs in the private sector."

The authors conclude that we need to put banking and finance under democratic control. They point out, "Debt is not a problem when put to productive use to create credit which facilitates physical investment and material transformation via infrastructure, care services, or manufacturing, as the basis for economic advancement and social improvement."

We need national banks designed to invest, in R&D, housing, industry, energy and infrastructure.
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