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The Heretic's Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money Hardcover – 10 May 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (10 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745333516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745333519
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


This is an imaginative, even exuberant exploration of the daunting world of finance - it will unleash a generation of activists, and do a world of good. (Bill McKibben, author of 'Deep Economy')

This book provides a unique inside-out look at our financial system, based on the author's unusual personal adventure. It is not only a user-friendly guide to the complex maze of modern finance but also a manual for utilising and subverting it for social purposes in innovative ways. Smart and street-smart. (Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of '23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism')

Money is power, but so too is knowledge. Tinkering with regulation will not change the world, but empowered citizens just might. Brett Scott’s entertaining and informative book is brimming with good ideas on how we can engage and change global finance on our own terms. (Tony Greenham, Head of Finance and Business at the New Economics Foundation)

About the Author

Brett Scott is a campaigner and former broker who has worked on climate change, food security and ethical banking campaigns. He is a Fellow at the Finance Innovation Lab and has written for the Guardian, Ecologist, openDemocracy and New Internationalist. He blogs at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jonone100 on 17 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback
Brett is interested in building a community of 'financial heretics'. In this book he adopts a 'hacktivist' approach to the subject of finance. This consists of Exploring (with an emphasis on 'empathetic' exploration), Jamming (seeking out vulnerabilities and exposing them) and Building (reforming the elements of the system into something new). The book is structured around these three categories of action. I think this is a unique approach to finance and, combined with a broadly anthropological influence and Brett's easy-going journalistic style, it makes The Heretic's Guide a valuable and up-to-the-minute contribution to our understanding of Money.

Nevertheless, it can be tough going at times. Chapter Two for example called 'Getting Technical' requires some resolve from the reader. Not that Brett doesn't do a good job of explanation, but the subject matter itself - derivatives, swaps, risk, futures, etc - can be bewildering. I expect though, that the audience for this book will indeed have the resolve needed.

It's going to be on bookshelves alongside David Graeber's 'Debt' as a book not only to make sense of Money, but as something to respond to and be inspired by. And whilst at times, the writing can seem a little like a late night conversation of Occupy veterans trying to imagine Money's role in a brighter future, there can be no better advertisement for Brett's Do-It-Yourself ethos than the book itself. Although traditionally published, it was launched and came to my attention via Brett's Indieagogo funding campaign for a 'School of Financial Activism'.

I hope Brett is as successful at inspiring people to re-envisage and reform their relationship to finance as he was at producing this work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Malka on 9 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The most powerful aspect of this book is that it lays out a really simple and effective framework for how to break down the Goliath of the financial system into manageable chunks, based on the `hacker ethos', and then show what an individual could do with that approach. Some sections are more challenging than others, but overall it's really approachable and creative (imaginative metaphors etc.), which is cool because I've often found it hard to imagine creativity in the context of finance. It's a combo between a dummy's guide and a practical sourcebook for ideas and an irreverent middle finger to the financial establishment (he was a broker for a while, so knows the system from within).

He covers the basics but not in a patronising way (I'd actually say the book doesn't try to `suck up' to the reader, and actually demands serious attention whilst reading), and definitely challenges how we think about certain things. A simple example that sticks out to me is how he re-brands money as "COGAS" for "claims on good and services", and uses examples drawn from pop culture e.g. like using cross-dresses and capoeira fighters as examples of the Hacker ethos. It also doesn't plod about trying to academically analyse the causes of the financial crisis, and just offers a kick-up-the-backside and a do-it-yourself approach. Awesome.
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Format: Paperback
As you might expect from the title, the ‘Heretic’s Guide’ is one of the most unique takes on the world on finance that you’re likely to come across.

What I liked most about Brett’s book is it doesn’t advocate extreme measures such as camping outside St Pauls Cathedral, it proposes a much more subtle approach. The author encourages readers to immerse themselves in the financial system as a first step, for example by subscribing to the Financial Times (which I did) or visit the London Metal Exchange (which I’m trying to arrange). This experience can then be used to implement one of the numerous tactics he describes in the book to challenge the system, whether this means setting up an ethical hedge fund or buying carbon credits so they can be retired.

It becomes obvious while reading that while the author has some experience in the finance industry, he is by no means a disaffected former investment banker. His background in anthropology allows him to take an innovative approach to financial activism while still retaining a subversive element.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone that has become disillusioned with the financial system over the last few years and would like to take back of a bit of control.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. M. Liepins on 20 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback
This book works amazingly well in two ways:

1. As a way to make the financial system accessible. The book truly does support the authors ambition in this. The book offers up the information and insight we need to transform ourselves from passive, unconscious participants to active participants in our global financial system (with an opportunity to consciously shape and inform it). Its success seems to come from Brett Scotts decision to be informative not prescriptive; to encourage the creation of new thought not try and impose one alternative version. And he has responded to a deep need in society I think. Our public dialogue is so often starved of information - we talk in conclusions: "this is the way it is, agree with me or not; revert to the binary 'prove or disprove' mentality", whereas The Heretics Guide To Global Finance uses information to invite people to think and have a proper conversation. How refreshing!

2. The book also works as a hacker manifesto that uses our financial system as a case study - to awaken individuals to the hack-ability of culture and systems even when those systems appear, at the outset, to be utterly opaque, ingrained, and fixed. From page 6 onwards I was struck by the way the authors insights into how to explore, jam, and build, are completely universal. Any artist, activist, or entrepreneur who wants to affect change needs to harness the power of all three and the book works as an affirming kick in the right direction. It informs/reminds us that we are not powerless, that we are interconnected with an opportunity to inform the world we live in. After all, there is no `abstain' option. While we are here we have a say through all the interactions we have, and we have a choice - to unconsciously support existing paradigms, or explore new ones.
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