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How Do We Fix This Mess? The Economic Price of Having It All and the Route to Lasting Prosperity [Hardcover]

Robert Peston , Laurence Knight
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Sep 2012

In Robert Peston's new book he explains in his characteristically straightforward way how the world got itself into the current economic mess - and how we might get out of it.

'How do we fix this mess? I don't know. But don't stop reading now. Perhaps if we have a clearer understanding of what went wrong, we'll have a better idea of what needs to be done. This book is a map of what needs to be fixed.'

The record-breaking unbroken growth between 1992 and 2008 wasn't the economic miracle that it seemed. It was based on a number of dangerous illusions - most notably that it didn't matter that the UK and US year after year consumed more than they earned.

But we couldn't go on increasing our indebtedness forever. The financial crash of 2007/8 and the subsequent economic slump in much of the west was the moment when we realised we had borrowed more than we could afford to repay.

So who got it wrong? Bankers, investors and regulators? And were they greedy, stupid or asleep? What was the role of government? And what part did we, as consumers, play in all this?

How do we get through this difficult period of transition to a more sustainable economy, one based on investment and exports, rather than on borrowing and consumption? With the same probing lucidity he brought to WHO RUNS BRITAIN?, Robert Peston takes us step-by-step towards a common sense way to fix this mess.


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How Do We Fix This Mess? The Economic Price of Having It All and the Route to Lasting Prosperity + Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in + Made In Britain: How the nation earns its living
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 471 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; 1st edition (27 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444757091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444757095
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Peston is the BBC's Business Editor. Prior to joining the BBC, he was Political Editor and Financial Editor of the Financial Times, City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a columnist for the New Statesman and Sunday Times (inter alia). He has won numerous awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year (twice) from the Royal Television Society, Performer of the Year from the Broadcasting Press Guild, Broadcaster of the Year and Journalist of the Year from the Wincott Foundation and Business Journalist of the Year from the London Press Club. Peston has published two critically acclaimed books, WHO RUNS BRITAIN?, his best-selling account of who is to blame for the economic and financial crisis of 2007-9, and BROWN'S BRITAIN, a biography of Gordon Brown and analysis of the New Labour government. His prize-winning blog, which has more than 800,000 readers, can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/robertpeston. He is the founder of Speakers for Schools (www.speakers4schools.org), a pro bono educational service which organises free talks from inspirational speakers for students at state schools. He is a trustee of the Education and Employers Taskforce. He is married to the writer Siân Busby. You can follow Robert on twitter at www.Twitter.com/Peston

Product Description

Review

Robert Peston's compelling account of global financial meltdown is a must-read... His discursive, conversational but entrancingly fact-studded trip around the disaster zone ought to be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to have a voice in where we go from here. (Observer)

HOW DO WE FIX THIS MESS? is the book of the film and more... brought to life by war stories from the BBC, simple analogies and colourful language... he does know how to elucidate apparently impenetrable issues, and he guides us intelligently and entertainingly... readable and thought-provoking. (Financial Times)

Robert Peston is not so much a journalist as a phenomenon... And now he has managed to fit in a book... that displays his gargantuan appetite for facts, numbers and economic and financial history... Peston's range is dazzling.... Peston is a BBC treasure - one of the journalists who justify the licence fee. If, every few years, he needs to breathe out and write a long book, we should encourage it. As they used to say in the pre-Twitter age, he knows his stuff. (New Statesman)

compelling reading. (Chris Mullin Observer)

Reads like a wildly implausible financial thriller. (Independent)

Lucid explanations... stark analysis of what the financial meltdown means for us... Peston's book is actually scarier than most descriptions I've read of the crisis. It goes way beyond Wall Street and City greed in its scope. (Evening Standard)

He is good on the follies of the bankers... He is also good on the detail. Anybody who wants to know what a collateralised debt obligation or a credit default swap is will find it here. (Sunday Times)

Essential reading... an excellent expose of the financial crisis. (Sunday Telegraph)

Brilliant. I now understand everything. (Giles Coren)

Robert Peston was the voice of the financial crisis, just as Terry Wogan will forever be the voice of the Eurovision Song Contest. Vocal tics and all, he's now an official national treasure. (Spectator)

Mr Peston, an award-winning print journalist before he became the Business Editor of the BBC, has many strengths. Chief among these are his sources and a terrier-like determination to get the story. Mr Peston passionately articulates why everyone should be frustrated with the banking sector--and financial globalisation more generally. For a tale of how the British banks blew up, readers will find juicy details. (Economist)

Robert Peston's great book on the world financial crash... 400 information-packed pages... If Mr Peston has a lesson for us, it is that until we fix the banking system, we will have achieved nothing. (Irish Independent)

'The author charts the past 20 years of steady economic growth and consequent bust, lucidly explaining the shortcomings of the banking system and the effects of globalisation, before returning to the present state of the UK, all invitingly.' (Sunday Telegraph)

Praise for WHO RUNS BRITAIN? (.)

A compelling portrait of early 21st century casino capitalism...essential reading. (Howard Davies The Times)

This lucid and timely guide to the world of turbo-capitalism...absorbing book, essential reading for anyone who wants to know how the British economy now operates. (Peter Wilby, Guardian)

A devastating account of Blair's producer capture by high finance...Peston navigates with ease the shark-infested waters of hedge funds, sub-prime borrowing, defined-benefit pensions and loans for honours. (Simon Jenkins, The Sunday Times)

Fluent, incredibly up to the minute look at Britain...Peston, in relaxed, conversational; style is a great travelling companion along the highways of finance. (Observer)

starkly lucid...Reading Peston's book, you can only be flabbergasted all over again at how Labour kowtowed to wealth, glorified the City and put the nations economic eggs into one dangerous basket of fizzy finance. (Polly Toynbee Guardian)

'Peston catches the zeitgeist of Britain and the paradox that is Gordon Brown' (Financial Times)

'engaging' (Harry Mount Telegraph)

Robert Peston is very lucid on some of the biggest issues of the day. I thoroughly recommend it. (Scotland on Sunday)

We are unfortunately still in the middle of this crisis. But at least we will have Robert Peston to give us that famous 'first draft of history' provided by excellent reporting. (Business Economist)

One of the best accounts of the financial crisis, recession and how we get out of it. (Scotland on Sunday)

About the Author

Robert Peston is the BBC's Economics Editor. Prior to joining the BBC, he was Political Editor and Financial Editor of the Financial Times, City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a columnist for the New Statesman and Sunday Times (inter alia). He has won numerous awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year (twice) from the Royal Television Society, Performer of the Year from the Broadcasting Press Guild, Broadcaster of the Year and Journalist of the Year from the Wincott Foundation and Business Journalist of the Year from the London Press Club. Peston has published two critically acclaimed books, WHO RUNS BRITAIN?, his best-selling account of who is to blame for the economic and financial crisis of 2007-9, and BROWN'S BRITAIN, a biography of Gordon Brown and analysis of the New Labour government. His prize-winning blog - Peston's Picks - which has more than 800,000 readers, can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/robertpeston. He is the founder of Speakers for Schools (www.speakers4schools.org), a pro bono educational service which organises free talks from inspirational speakers for students at state schools. He is a trustee of the Education and Employers Taskforce. He is married to the writer Siân Busby. You can follow Robert on twitter at www.Twitter.com/Peston

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By alapper
Format:Hardcover
I am really pleased Peston found the time to write this book. I am a lay person in economics and as economic problems of one sort or another have dominated the news for recent decades it has been hard to understand what actually goes on in the banking system and the national economies. This book really does cover many topics of current interest - the credit crunch, the eurozone, USA, Japan, China.
Now I feel I understand a little of how derivatives and bonds work and why they were created, why Germany doesn't want eurobonds and that derivatives aren't just a side issue but a major part of the financial system, that banks reserves were incredibly low compared to what they were borrowing and lending (and why), that the eurozone and Japan really do have problems and so may China eventually. It was good to have all issues of the past two decades explained in detail, and even developments in 2012.
There are of course problems with it as both other reviewers have pointed out. It was obviously written in a bit of a rush and I would have liked more careful explanations at times but this seems a bit carping when I'm glad to read anyone really explaining the subject at all. The style is good with human interest among the drier economics and the odd amusing aside. It does seem a bit OTT pessimistic at times but I imagine this is due to his journalistic style (or perhaps the pessimism is justified?!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the uninitiated 16 Nov 2012
By Sumo72
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great book for people who have no experience, or very little knowledge of how the world's banking, economic and political systems correlate.

I found it to be easily accessible and very easy to remember the different topics that the author covers in enough detail to satisfy the readers thirst for knowledge but also not to lose them in a deluge of facts, figures and verbiage.

An excellent book, I would recommend it wholeheartedly
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable,understandable and relevant. 21 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Whilst this tome is a bit long it is worth reading from cover to cover. RP is always clear and takes a great deal of effort to explain all of the complicated financial wheezes/devices and downright criminal activities that contribute to our current financial predicament. If a reader wants to save time I suggest he/she goes direct to pp 392 - 415 to learn the "how to fix it" but I guarantee that afterwards they will go back and read the entire book. An excellent work by an author who knows what he is writing about.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Best book I've read in ages. I'm a bit of dumbass with an interest in economics, so those two combined means I spend a lot of time reading the business sections of newspapers with a confused look on my face. But not any longer. After reading this book my understanding of how finance works is so complete that I reckon I could get a job as banker, or the head of some European institution that gives unlimited German money to Greece and Spain in the hope they pay it back some day. The only downside is that before I read this book I was a keen Guardian reader but after finishing it, well, I found myself enjoying the Daily Mail a lot more. Not that I'm suggesting this book is for the Daily Mail reader. Just that after reading the facts, it possibly doesn't encourage you to support a financial union with other European countries (unless the union was with Germany, France, Finland and the Netherlands only), which I know is an issue popular with the readers of the Daily Mail.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is that it ? 30 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is well written and explains the euro crisis well. The comments on China were New to me and I was thoroughly enjoying the book with 15 per cent to go. Then there was a fairly tiresome and unrelated tilt at Bob diamond. Then at 90 per cent read - it ended. It was as if somebody had stolen the last 10 per cent. No real answer to the question posed by the book or indeed any attempt. It was if pesto had decided to go and make a cup of tea and not come back. Perhaps there are no answers ? Perhaps the title of the book is rhetorical ? In summary - great piece of economic literature, but not what I was looking for.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title, but an excellent book 4 Oct 2012
By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Peston, the drawling Business Editor of the BBC, starts by reviewing the history of the financial crisis, often using striking analogues, with clear explanations of arcane concepts such as `collateralised debt obligations' and `credit derivatives', and shows how trading in debt of various kinds, helped by banks being allowed to increase their ratio of borrowing/lending to capital (`leverage'), came to dwarf trading of traditional `real' assets.

Bankers began to believe in their own infallibility and totally failed to read the lessons of history. Peston shows how, ignoring the principles of sound banking, they constructed ever more complicated financial products that would provide huge personal rewards, but were not fully understood by either those at the top of the organisations, or politicians and regulators. `Big beasts' such as Brown and Greenspan, as well as the IMF, were still proclaiming that everything was rosy up to a few weeks before disaster struck in 2008. A situation was eventually reached where it was all but impossible to make a realistic estimate of the risks involved, and hence factor it into prices. It was `helped' by the so-called Basel Rules (scathingly dissected by Peston) that enabled bankers to conceal the nature of their business. The result was an `Alice in Wonderland' world, where `assets' had the value that bankers said they had without any way of objectively measuring them.

Peston then turns to globalization. While recognising its good consequences (raising the standard of living in third world countries etc.) he also discusses the bad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Mr peston is Interesting as ever. Worth the read.
Published 7 days ago by James Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly enjoyable analysis
An easy to read analysis of the factors behind the credit crunch and the frightening state of the global economy. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Mr Guy H W Ballantine
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very good read
Published 13 days ago by Groanus
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book, refers to historical reasons and current problems. Overall, very good.
Published 19 days ago by Branko Ilic
4.0 out of 5 stars good reading
good reading
Published 22 days ago by Sylvia Macmillan
4.0 out of 5 stars Of interest
A good way to try and explain a complex situation
Published 1 month ago by glabrum
5.0 out of 5 stars 'An age of scantily-clad emperors'
Respected BBC financial journalist Robert Peston does a fine job of explaining, with great clarity, the complex build-up to a crisis that, though it unfolded swiftly from 2008... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jeremy Bevan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I constantly find myself referring to this in conversation, so it clearly had an impact...
Published 1 month ago by Anne, London
5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense Really!
Really enjoyed this book, I was worried it might be a bit heavy, but it is written really well, and financial terms are explained in Plain English! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily read and very well
Absolutely fascinating. Easily read and very well explained
Published 1 month ago by Patrick Forrest
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