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Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation Hardcover – 7 Dec 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; First Edition edition (7 Dec 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857202855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857202857
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'You cannot read Brown's account of the crisis and deny his role in this. First, he grasped early the serious imbalances in the world economy - China and India's surpluses, the US and developed nations' deficits. Indeed he went on about them until his fellow finance ministers were bored to death. Secondly, he shows an extraordinary intellectual grasp of the various related problems and solutions, not just the generalities but the detail, the numbers. Thirdly, he did not make mistakes that other leaders made. The US made the banking crisis infinitely harder to solve by letting Lehman Brothers go under. In Britain, no bank defaulted on its obligations. Nor did Brown fall for partial solutions, just lending to banks temporarily. Instead he insisted on their capital restructuring. He produces in this book a soundbite which in seven words encapsulates the whole damn crisis: the banks were "taking excessive risks but with inadequate capital". Finally, after the banking system was shored up, he fostered positive policies, both domestically and internationally, to prevent the financial meltdown leading to an economic one' --David Lipsey, Guardian 18/12

'The crisis following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 took the UK closer than we were told at the time to the edge of not just a financial but a civil disaster. "We were days away", writes Brown, "from a complete banking collapse: companies not being able to pay their creditors, workers not being able to draw their wages, and families finding that ATM had no cash to give them".... There is no denying that Brown is more intellectually engaged with economics than any other front-rank politician, and has been since the 1990s. "I am proud that whatever my faults I have maintained a resolutely anti-protectionist, pro-market and pro-globalisation stance." He believes that the West may face a decade of stagnation, unless there is "a growth pace" or a "global New Deal". He argues that "markets need morals" and that a kind of financial equivalent of compulsory international air-safety regulations should be introduced, to avoid a repeat of 2008; 'The battle is now on for the soul of the 21st century"' --Robert Harris, Sunday Times 12/12

'[Brown's] book is gripping because his matter-of-fact recounting of the early months of the crisis conveys the dilemmas and angst of policymakers as they tried to handle the biggest economic drama in decades... The book conveys well Brown's sense of history, the rapid pace of change in the global economy and the failures of unfettered markets to manage things on their won. But it also conveys his moral sensibilities. He was a finance Minster who realised that finance was not an end in itself; that the true gauge of an economy was how it affected the well-being of its citizens. He was concerned about unemployment, not just inflation. He recalls his commitment to eradicating poverty and helping Africa, with the 2005 Gleneagles summit and the cancellation of debt of the poorest countries, an achievement about which he is justly proud.... What is clear from this book is that Brown knew what needed to be done and tried to do it at a time when others were paralysed, captured by the financial community, or deluded by their past mistakes into trying to underestimate the severity of the crisis that their policies has helped create' --Joseph Stiglitz, Financial Times 11/12

'It's as impossible to think of Gordon Brown at the recent Fifa meeting in Zurich pleading England's cause for the World Cup as it is to imagine David Cameron expounding the nitty-gritty of capital adequacy ratios at a meeting of the G20. When the economic crisis erupted in 2008-9, Brown, like Churchill in 1940, was the right man in the right place at the right time. He'd had 10 years as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He'd read widely and thought deeply about economics, finance, globalisation. He was the one national leader who came to the crisis with a plan and the authority to push it through. This is his story of how he did it, told soberly, clearly, compellingly. It is not a defence of his premiership, but his personal account of a heroic moment in it. He does not claim credit for "saving the world", but lets the story speak for itself, and praises the contribution of his own team and the other world leaders. It is an interrupted story, because he did not survive long enough politically to finish the job. Since he left the scene efforts to co-ordinate recovery policies have fallen to pieces. This is the measure of his achievement - and the hole that his departure left' --Robert Skidelsky, Observer 12/12

'On Tuesday night, a hall full of students cheered a politician... His name was Gordon Brown... [their cheers] sounded like something that students often demand, but which you can't actually demand, any more than you can demand love. The cheers sounded like respect'
--Christina Patterson, Independent 11/12

'Beyond the crash is a visionary work that jostles as awkwardly against standard political biographies as its overbearing subject did against less ministers in the corridors of Whitehall. This compelling book is neither a personal confession, nor an effort at self-justification and score-settling, nor an exercise in maximising royalties, like the recent biographies of Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson' --Anatole Kaletsky, The Times 11/12

'Brown's resolutely austere... analysis of the economic crisis powerfully makes the rather more worthwhile case for global cooperation' --Books of the Year, Non Fiction, Metro 16/12

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Carroll VINE VOICE on 5 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover
On leaving office, Gordon Brown immediately spent a lot of time hammering out a book Beyond The Crash. Unlike Peter Mandelson this wasn't the Westminster equivalent of a sordid kiss-and-tell exposé or a Tony Blair-esque sales brochure to secure speaking engagements. Instead Brown set out to do what he does best, putting on page deep thought and analysis about the knotty problem of global finances. He did an excellent job of marshaling ideas and sources in the book. His grasp on Asian economics and China in particular is very good. There is a whole section on the Asian crisis of 1998 which is well worth reading on its own.

In this respect, the book is a solid piece of work, Brown isn't as compelling a writer as other economic thinkers that the Labour party has looked to like Will Hutton; but he does a good job at making his ideas and concepts understandable to the average reader.

Where things go wrong with the book is where Brown tries to humanise his writing. His comments of praise for colleagues and other politicians feels wooden, as if it was written into his book as a postscript. And it is because of this that we see a glimpse of Brown the politician; the polar opposite of his predecessor Tony Blair. Someone who thought at great depth and knew what to do but didn't have the surface finish.

One thing that Brown fails to address is some of the problems that have bedeviled UK government debt like public private partnerships at both central and local government levels.

If you are prepared to persevere with the book, it is a good read.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By N. Tuson on 4 Feb 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was written in sections and it shows. Parts are repeated, some is gibberish and some is cogent. I suspect it was not ghost-written because it would be a better book if it were.
That is the style. What of the content? It is worth reading GB's view of the crisis, but you won't get much detail of the maths, the solutions or the processes - just personalities and who met whom.
Depite this strongly negative review - I threw the thing away - I have always been a supporter of GB and remain one: But this is not a good book. A shame, because we were lucky to have him, he has much to say and was in the right place at the right time to say it - but since nothing has been fixed and vested interests are unchanged, I doubt anyone is going to discuss in depth and detail the awful problems of our 'system'. I'm not sure they're wrong either - it would take years to write and be full of mathematical models and non-linear processes, not to mention dismantling the steady-state assumptions behind our 18th-Century view of economics (non-arbitrage indeed! Bah!)
We already know that people are not rational-decision makers and of course therefore behaviour is not what is predicted by models assuming rational decision making. Hence the enormous sums spent on marketing to irrationally influence the purchase of undesirable, over-priced and unneeded items of no utility. Yet it is not incorporated into our models of economic behaviour. Yet.
But who is going to read a 3-volume set taking apart the economic theories and assembling a better-informed and more numerate model? The only audience already knows this and the rest won't buy it.

So, this book - badly written, uninformative, probably assembled by a committee shuffling poor GB's drafts - lets Gordon down. How do we get him to do it again but better?
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206 of 311 people found the following review helpful By Free Radical on 16 Dec 2010
Format: Hardcover
Most books by politicians should be put into that odd category half way between fact and fiction. Although they make some claim to historical accuracy, their main aim is to present their author's case for the defence. Be warned: Gordon Brown has taken this to absurd lengths in 'Beyond the Crash.'

Even the title is misleading. 2008-10 was not the first crisis of globalisation: that was in 1929, when the Wall Street Crash led to the great depression. It was not even a global crisis anyway - the 'new' BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China) largely continued to grow, as did most of the 'old' economies too: Canada, Australia, Germany, most of non-eurozone Europe, etc. The UK was, in truth, one of the relatively few countries to get caught out.

So, why did that happen? Well, according to Brown, it was all the fault of the banks. They lent money on high-risk ventures and didn't tell Brown what they were doing. And that's it; the defence rests its case. 300 pages of charmless, densely-written verbiage can be distilled into three words: 'not me, guv!'

Brown doesn't mention, of course, that it was his job to find out what the banks were doing. But then again he doesn't mention a lot of things.
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