- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; 1st Thus edition (10 April 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1471113558
- ISBN-13: 978-1471113550
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy Paperback – 10 Apr 2014
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'This insight in to the character of Fred and the political climate of the mid-2000s is one of many that make Martin's account of the RBS crash a must-read for students of financial folly' Martin Vander Weyer, The Spectator
'Brilliantly told' The Guardian
'It has left me panting for more' The Scotsman
'In this guide to the financial crisis and RBS's role in it, Iain Martin probably comes closer than anyone to revealing the truth about one of Britain's most hated businessmen' Sunday Times
' Excellent... Wonderful stuff, scary and funny at the same time... Alarming' Independent
'Enlightening...Pacy... Anyone with an interest in what exactly happened [with RBS, Fred Godwin and the men who blew up the British economy] and why will enjoy this book' Financial Times
'Martin's book, I have to say, is superb. Clear and compulsively readable, it explains what happened and why with elegance and a strong sense of fair play. I'd spent much of the past few years in a fog of incomprehension and that fog has now lifted' Daily Mail
'What really makes Making it Happen work is the slow inevitability of what's about to occur. There's something strangely intoxicating about watching these titans of finance coming to the gradual realisation that their castles have been built on sand' Telegraph
'Do not read this book if you have high blood pressure. The collapse of RBS; the multibillion-pound bailout (courtesy of you and me), and the smug indifference of the guilty men is one of the parables of the ills of contemporary capitalism. Iain Martin tells it brilliantly, mixing fury-inducing narrative with an acute eye for the broader conclusion. Of all the many tales about the global financial crash, I have not read a more compelling one' Observer
'Martin ably decodes financial jargon while sympathising with the public's head shaking incredulity at the size and fragility of the financial system... Fascinating' Breaking Views
'A stonkingly good book... well placed for the Christmas market... many of the cast of characters need little introduction to business people in Scotland, but reading about the wheeling and dealing as if it was a racy novel, is compelling stuff' Jock Business Quarter (Scotland)
'A gripping account of the rise and fall of the Royal Bank of Scotland... Anyone who is interested in politics or finance will enjoy this book. Anyone embarking on a career in banking should be made to read it' Wall Street Journal
'A painstaking analysis of the calamitous collapse of the bank... Required reading for any banker who tends to wake up with brilliant ideas on how to expand the business' --Patrick Hosking, The Times
About the Author
Iain Martin is a journalist and broadcaster. He comes from Paisley (as does Fred Goodwin). Iain was editor of The Scotsman newspaper from 2001-2004, and then its sister paper Scotland on Sunday from 2004-2006. In 2006 he moved to The Sunday Telegraph, where he was deputy editor. He has since been a columnist on politics for various newspapers: The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail. He contributes to Financial News and Standpoint magazine. He has presented editions of Beyond Westminster, Week in Westminster and What the Papers Say for BBC Radio 4. He lives in London.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book describes in great detail the investment bank, CDO's and acquisition of ABN Amro along with portraits of the people involved in these areas.
Then casually at the end of the book it is made clear that the majority of the losses were in property lending in the UK and Ireland. However up until that point there had been no mention of property lending or any of the people involved in that part of the business. I would have thought that the area of the business responsible for the largest losses should have been covered in some way. What happened? Who were the people involved?
Also in his conclusion he implies that HSBC was just as bad as HBOS and RBOS which is pretty unfair. Tax payers have not had to bail out HSBC. While the management of HSBC are not perfect they are in a different league to Fred Goodwin and company.
Overall, I think the flaw is that the author does not properly understand finance. I have also read "Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain" and "Anglo Republic: Inside the bank that broke Ireland" which in my view are better books because they properly explain what happened. After finishing Make It Happen I feel that I still don't completely understand what happened at RBS.
Martin received co-operation from the Royal Bank. He interviewed the CEO and chairman, had access to RBS archives, and conducted off-the-record interviews with key current and former RBS employees. This book is largely a summary of those interviews, presented in a direct and unadorned style. If the Bank didn't want it to be written, they at least made the best of the inevitable. The resulting book is unbiased and reasonably sympathetic to the current RBS management.
Martin tackles the main areas leading up to the crash in roughly chronological order: the history of Scottish banking, the early career of Fred Goodwin, Sir George Mathewson's reform of the Bank in the 1990s, the NatWest takeover and Goodwin's stewardship in the 2000s. The pace quickens with the ABN Amro deal, whereby Goodwin set out to buy an American retail bank and ended up with a Dutch wholesale one. Then we have the American sub-prime mortgage crisis, the credit crunch and the crisis at RBS, culminating in the biggest failure in UK corporate history and recession in the wider economy. Even though you know the outcome, it's thrilling stuff.
An exception to the chronology is that chapter one deals with the height of the crisis. No doubt Martin's publisher thought it boring to start with a lesson in Scottish history, but to restore the proper order, insert chapter one between 13 and 14.
Martin is at his weakest when he strays from exposition of the facts.Read more ›
Whilst Brown is a bit player in this book - the book of course is not about him, but without his policies as Chancellor, Goodwin might not have been in such an easy position to have gone from being an accountant with no banking experience whatsoever, then after a couple of years at the Clydesdale Bank, to within the space of literally a handful of years, transformed the similarly provincial Scottish bank RBS into a monster with a toxic balance sheet of £1.9 TRILLION - £400 BILLION larger than the entire UK economy. There are of course many other culpable figures in this story; members of the parochial and at times nationalistic Scottish establishment who wanted a Scottish bank to one of the world's biggest. Many others were either too afraid of being `shredded' to speak out, or merely happy to keep the bonuses rolling in. Alex Salmond even has a couple of cameo roles - including when he wrote Goodwin a nationalistic `thumbs up' letter on the takeover of ABM Amro, a venture which took place when the warning lights on the control panel were flashing and the klaxons sounding as in any good disaster movie one minute before the music finally stopped. (Ironically, Banco Santander - one of RBS's partners in the venture, unknown to Goodwin, immediately sold off their profitable part of ABM Amro, making them a profit of 2.4bn in three weeks - leaving RBS owning a third of the bank, but 70% of the balance sheet).Read more ›
Many people have the view that RBS's losses were caused by some vague notion of 'gambling' or 'toxic loans'. This book had the opportunity of laying out exactly what caused the losses, but failed to fully grasp it. Having read the book, I now know that a large percentage of the losses were incurred in property lending, particularly in Ireland (both North and South), but I still am none the wiser of what the total exposure was to US sub prime and related CDOs was, what the eventually realised losses on this asset class were, what percentage of the exposure and losses came from the RBS side and what came from the ABN acquisition etc.
Maybe a future edition could give some more detail on the balance sheet and losses. More interestingly, it could run a what if scenario - estimating what the eventual losses might have been if half of the bank's assets hadn't been sold at fire sale prices.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of my favourite books! Great quality and great price! Love it!Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book arrived in perfect condition and on time as I expected. It is very well written and I have enjoyed reading it.Published 2 months ago by Anthony
What a man. Who would have thought everything would come crashing down in such a way? Quite frightening.Published 3 months ago by CS
A detailed account of what happened during the credit crunch to RBS and the British economy... riveting readingPublished 4 months ago by Mark Ashworth
A book that fuels the anger of how most people must still feel about this period in the UK's banking history. Read morePublished 4 months ago by b frank
I think this book is a must read. It was gripping and written like a suspense thriller. I liked the way it told the history of when RBS was conceived right up to the crash.Published 5 months ago by gracehainey