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Shredded: Inside RBS, the Bank That Broke Britain [Hardcover]

Ian Fraser
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
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Book Description

5 Jun 2014

At its zenith, the Royal Bank of Scotland was the world's biggest bank. It had assets of $3 trillion, employed over 200,000 people, had branches on every high street and was admired and trusted by millions of borrowers and investors. Now the mere mention of its name causes anger and resentment, and its former CEO, Fred Goodwin, is reviled as one of the architects of the worst financial crisis since 1929.

In Shredded, Ian Fraser lifts the lid on the catastrophic mistakes that led the bank to the brink of collapse, scrutinizing the role played by RBS's directors who failed to check Goodwin's hubris, the colleagues who were overawed by his despotic leadership style, the politicians who created a regulatory free-for-all in which banks went virtually unsupervised, and the investors who egged Goodwin on.

As more and more toxic details emerge about the bank's pre- and post-bailout misconduct, which stretches from the ruination of numerous small businesses in the UK and Ireland to the criminal fiddling of Yen Libor, and from the alleged manipulation of global foreign-exchange markets to the wholesale 'mis-selling' of US mortgage bonds, Ian Fraser examines what the future holds for RBS and whether it can ever regain the public's trust.


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Shredded: Inside RBS, the Bank That Broke Britain + Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain + Making it Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy
Price For All Three: 30.28

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd (5 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780271387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780271385
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.4 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian Fraser has worked as a journalist for 25 years, writing for titles including The Economist, Financial Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent, Reuters, Dow Jones, Daily Mail, Herald and Sunday Herald. From 1999 to 2006 he worked for the newly launched, Glasgow-based Sunday Herald as financial editor. In these years he kept close tabs on developments at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Since 2008, he has focused on covering the unfolding global banking crisis, worked on six BBC documentaries including the Bafta-nominated RBS: Inside The Bank That Ran Out of Money, and taught at Stirling University. Before becoming a journalist, Ian worked in the advertising industry in Edinburgh, London and Paris; on a mine in Greybull, Wyoming; and as a jackeroo on a sheep station in Queensland, Australia. He was born in Edinburgh, is married with three children, and has a degree in English from St Andrews University. Shredded is his first book.

Product Description

Review

'The definitive account of the Royal Bank of Scotland fiasco. It's an engaging, if in some ways infuriating, tale of how self-serving bank executives systematically broke the rules, lent with astonishing recklessness, abused customers and got suckered by Wall Street - before ultimately dumping their mess on the taxpayers. Fraser doesn't just point the finger at Royal's clueless bankers. He also expertly chronicles the role of misguided regulations, captured supervisors and deluded politicians in fuelling this catastrophe' -- Yves Smith, founder of Naked Capitalism and author of ECONNED: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism

'This book should be posted through the letterbox of every taxpayer in Britain' --David Mellor, former chief secretary to the Treasury and secretary of state for National Heritage

'Ian Fraser has spotted stories, uncovered scandals and written about them in a detailed and accessible way that leaves many other financial journalists in the dust' --Eamonn O'Neill, director of the MSc course in investigative journalism at the University of Strathclyde

'Take a good look at this book because this is going to be skyrocketing up the bestseller lists around the world . . . I get the impression that [Fred Goodwin] becomes like a ghetto pimp, he becomes ghetto rich, you know these pimps, they make a few bucks, and they get the flashy car, and the fancy fur coat, and they strut around the ghetto. So here you have the ghetto of financial fraud, and there's Fred Goodwin flashing his cash like a pimp, and the rest of the banking industry, they emulate that, they're like 'we want to be pimps too'. [Goodwin was strutting his stuff as he lured all and sundry into RBS's] whorehouse of debt. This is the definitive text, and I'm thinking of Barbarians at the Gate which came out about Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the RJR Nabisco deal. This is an instant classic' --Max Keiser

'Shredded is a definitive and unflinching 435-page account of exactly what went wrong . . . a compelling book for Scotland, for finance and for the political and business world' --Bill Jamieson, Scotsman

'Not just a book about RBS but about something profound that happened ethically in our country' --Russell Napier, CLSA

'Shredded is a monumental book, well written, impeccably researched and hard to put down at any point' --Financial Times

'Not just a book about RBS but about something profound that happened ethically in our country' --Russell Napier, CLSA

About the Author

Ian Fraser is an award-winning journalist, commentator and broadcaster whose work has been published by among others The Economist, Financial Times, The Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, Guardian, Observer, Mail on Sunday, Herald, Sunday Herald, Thomson Reuters, Huffington Post, economia and QFINANCE. He has taught at the University of Stirling, and his BBC documentary, RBS: The Bank That Ran Out of Money, was short-listed for a Bafta. He is a graduate of St Andrews University and lives in Scotland.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painstaking research 6 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover
Shredded is one of the most compulsive books I have ever read. I regularly had to pinch myself to make sure it was not science fiction but a real life story that I was reading. There are many villains brutally exposed. I wonder if the Crown Prosecution Service will read this book and decide to open proceedings urgently?

Ian Fraser has painstakingly gathered a huge amount of material from the most diverse of sources. The effort put in by the author ought to be read as a fundamental case study in all the world’s Business Schools.

Had I been a non-executive director of RBS during any of the years 1998 – 2008 I would be mortified reading Shredded. Like the main culprit they too were guilty as charged.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ian Fraser has taken on the difficult task of analysing a complex subject and has done it well, including obtaining information from well informed sources. Whilst the subject makes for dismal reading, when one recognises that it is fact not fiction and that we are all bearing the consequences of the banking crisis still, it is an important subject to be understood and Shredded will make a significant contribution to the understanding for layperson and expert alike. Fraser has marshalled a mass of information to allow the reader to understand the connected nature of misconduct, poor regulation, misguidedness and sheer recklessness that prevailed for more than a decade, with limited understanding, except with hindsight, of the disastrous consequences of inflated values, stretched balance sheets and poor quality business. Sadly, as Fraser points out, there are still unresolved issues in the banking sector, not least reconciling between deposit taking and lending institutions when combined with proprietary trading and risk taking institutions, and one wonders whether the lessons have really been learned. Reading Ian Fraser's excellent book will help those still trying to blame it all on globalisation and forces of nature, rather than human folly and greed, to recognise that markets go up and down but borrowing needs to be repaid regardless or we are all losers, as has been the case with tax payer bailouts to meet the horrific losses of certain banks post 2007, with RBS leading the charge to the bottom!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Icarus, rewritten for our time 20 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ian Fraser has done us a tremendous service. His 500 page examination of The Royal Bank of Scotland is a master-class of journalistic endeavour. He combines painstaking research, an indefatigable appetite to track down and interview the protagonists and the hacks gift of a well turned phrase to keep the reader engaged. This could have been an academic, desiccated dissection of finance and governance, a tome that might be found in ten years time in the banking and finance section of a City bookshop. It deserves no such fate; it should be presented in the biography section for that is what Fraser has delivered: nothing less than the biography of a bank, charting its rise and spectacular fall. This is the tale of Icarus rewritten for the acolytes of Mammon.

Fraser is a financial journalist of considerable experience and starts with the advantage of knowing his subject better than most having covered finance and RBS for years. Based in the relatively small and tightly knit community that is Edinburgh Fraser has absorbed the story of RBS steadily from the first flickering on the seismograph when HSBC considered buying the tiny UK bank to the needle-shaking purchase of NatWest that catapulted the bank into our collective consciousness.

I was in Hong Kong at the time of that bid and we saw it as nothing more than one Scottish bank seeking out another Scottish bank as part of a growing, global expansion. I was at NatWest too when RBS bought and effectively buried the old school of banking that had been on notice since Big Bang and the fundamental realignment of the financial sector. From that moment I became aware of, at times was a witness to, the many episodes that Fraser documents in this ultimately tragic tale.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roll on Fred - The Movie 24 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover
By Colin Donald
Business Editor
Sunday Herald

Readers will be subliminally aware of RBS ads depicting the bank's tolerance of the scrapes that "ordinary people" are prone to - a handbag left on the roof of a departing taxi, a switch card chewed by an adorable puppy, a wallet left at home by a party-goer in a kangaroo onesy.

RBS customers, we are jocularly assured, can rely on the bank for "those OMG moments".

Ian Fraser's magisterial Shredded: Inside The Bank That Broke Britain has an "OMG moment" on practically every one of its 500 pages. None ends happily for customers.

Shredded is the most detailed catalogue to date of the errors and misdemeanours leading up to the "financial Hiroshima" of RBS's 45.5 billion collapse in 2008, and the failure - in Fraser's view - to reform the bank in its aftermath. Nailing this tale of bad faith and professional failure requires data of armour-piercing power and accuracy, or it will bounce off as anti-capitalist ranting.

For the narrative to rise above the complexity and obfuscation of modern finance, it helps to be able to piggyback on one of the great corporate villains of British history, Mr (formerly Sir) Frederick Anderson Goodwin.

Avoiding cheap psychoanalysis, Ian Fraser gives the best picture yet of "Fred the Shred", RBS's chief executive from 2000 to 2008. He also apportions blame to those - chairman Sir Tom McKillop, ex-chairman Sir George Matthewson, politicians, regulators - who failed to stop him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars This book provides an interesting account of the fall of ...
This book provides an interesting account of the fall of RBS. I'm not sure how balanced it is though. Read more
Published 2 days ago by sheena ashford
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Very well researched and well written. I must admit I did find the "banker bashing" tone of the book grated after a while and the book did lack balance.
Published 11 days ago by Mr P C Ridding
4.0 out of 5 stars How not to run a bank
Expected it just to be about Sir Fred, so pleasantly surprised others came in for a roasting for their part. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Michael Atkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than any spy novel - a compelling forensic analysis of RBS's...
An utterly compelling forensic analysis of RBS and its implosion - one of the best books I have ever read. Read more
Published 14 days ago by j McTavish
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent detailed journalistic narrative on the journey taken by our...
Excellent detailed journalistic narrative on the journey taken by our once-respected institutions from canny bankers and business partners to spectacularly out-of-control greedy... Read more
Published 17 days ago by R. G. SCOTT-MONCRIEFF
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing: simplistic, and needs proper editing
This is a disappointing book. It is a gripping story and a very important one. But it suffers both from being superficial, and from appalling standards of editing. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Burdrop
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Comprehensive detail of criminal destruction.
Published 18 days ago by pridenfall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
brilliant book goodwin should be in Prison
Published 18 days ago by martin d lewis
2.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight
Lightweight Sunday paper reviews of a vary complex story. Reads well, but marred by a number of small mistakes and a confusing time line. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Robert Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A metaphor for what we should do to private Central Banking - kill it.
Published 20 days ago by D. Black
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