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The Storm: The World Economic Crisis and What it Means [Hardcover]

Vince Cable
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2009
This is the bestseller on the credit crunch. In this brilliant short book, Vince Cable, 'the sage of the credit crunch' ("Daily Telegraph") explains how we got here and where we're going. In "The Storm", Vincent Cable explains the causes of the world economic crisis and how we should respond to the challenges it brings. He shows that although the downturn is global, the complacency of the British government towards the huge 'bubble' in property prices and high levels of personal debt, combined with increasingly exotic and opaque trading within the financial markets, has left Britain badly exposed. Yet we need to be vigilant in our response to the dangers confronting us. Times of crises inevitably bring forth false prophets who offer easy panaceas and identify scapegoats. However, Cable shows that an insular response to the current crisis would be a disaster and urges us to resist the siren voices that promote isolationism and nationalism as the answer to economic woes. He argues that policy makers must keep their faith in liberal markets if the remarkable advances in living standards, which are now being extended to the world's poorer countries, are to be maintained. This book is suitable for readers of "The Age of Turbulence" by Alan Greenspan, "The State We're In" by Will Hutton and "The New Paradigm for Financial Markets" by George Soros.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Editon edition (1 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848870574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848870574
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"* 'Cable's the star of Newsnight's credit-crunch discussions, the go-to guy for a sagacious economics quote for broadsheets' front-page leads, the man whom Tory Alan Duncan described as "the holy grail of economic comment these days".' Stuart Jeffries, Guardian 'Everything a politician should be and everything most politicians are not.' Jeff Prestridge, Mail on Sunday 'A heavyweight in anybody's cabinet' Matthew Parris, The Times"

About the Author

Vince Cable is Member of Parliament for Twickenham and has been the Liberal Democrats' chief economic spokesperson since 2003, having previously served as Chief Economist for Shell from 1995 to 1997. He was elected as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, to Sir Menzies Campbell, in March 2006 and was acting leader of the Liberal Democrats prior to the election of Nick Clegg.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
216 of 224 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vince in Wonderland 2 April 2009
Dr Vince Cable comments more than once in his book that the global economy seems to have become an "Alice in Wonderland" world: poor countries lending billions to finance the rich countries' borrowing, housing bubbles and see-sawing commodity prices all make for a surreal picture of the mess we have got ourselves into. In The Storm, Dr Cable makes the crisis understandable to a much broader readership than that of the Financial Times or The Economist; he has made an invaluable contribution to public understanding of this historic turning point.

The first two chapters of the book explain the "credit crunch", first in Britain then globally. These are followed by an excellent chapter on the surge in oil prices (no doubt helped by his experience as Chief Economist for Shell between 1995 and 1997) and another chapter on the food crisis. These are timely reminders that the problem of resources has not disappeared, even though it has been totally submerged in the news by the tottering banks and insurers. The fifth chapter puts the crisis in the context of the emergence of new economic powerhouses (principally China and India) and explains how they will reshape the world economy.

Throughout the book Dr Cable is unafraid of making judgements, but modestly restricts political points-scoring to a brief mention of his warnings about unsustainable house-price inflation in the UK (as economic spokesman for the Liberal Democrats he warned of this as early as 2002). Nevertheless, his conviction that the liberal economic system must be preserved, though with reforms, shines through in the final two chapters covering the responses to the crisis so far and his "road map" out of it.

All in all this is the indispensible introduction to the greatest economic upheaval in decades. For those who want to read further Dr Cable provides a very helpful bibliographic note. This book is required reading for anyone who wants to get their head round the crisis.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
In simple clear English, Vince Cable unravels the causes of the present global recession and puts it in its historical context. Greed and speculation have always been with us; what's new is its scale and the speed of transmission around the world, owing to globalisation of business and the impact of modern technology

Cable makes a valuable distinction between Free Trade in goods and services, which he supports, and unregulated speculation in financial services. As Keynes put it "Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise...But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation." and this is what has been allowed to happen as a result of de-regulation or 'light touch' regulation. Speculators, like punters in a casino, do not create net wealth - for every winner there is a loser. But today's financial speculators do not gamble with their own money but with ours (savers, pension funds and increasingly, in the 'bail-out', with taxpayers' money too)

Cable is in favour of Government action to stabilise the financial system and stop the real economy sliding into depression, by public investment in worhwhile infrastructure projects and boosting consumer spending power, but he stresses the dangers of socialising losses and leaving the profits in private hands

If the book has a weakness, it stems from Cable's background as an oil industry economist. I think he is unduly sanguine about the dangers of Peak Oil and the environmental costs of developing uncoventional sources of supply. In fact, climate change and its relationship to conventional economic growth objectives hardly features at all - a serious omission

But for a book written 'on the hoof' by an active politician in the thick of the crisis he is analysing, it is a remarkable achievement - lucid,sane,and balanced

Vincent Nolan
4 May 2009
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rushed but relevant 19 April 2009
By Thomas Douglas TOP 500 REVIEWER
There are three factors that make Vince Cable worth listening to (or reading):

First, he is near the centre of the political establishment. Second he is neither in power, nor about to be. This makes him honest.

Thirdly, and most importantly, he is clever.

With this book, Cable presents a (necessarily) rushed account of the financial crisis, how it happened and what it means for the future. And most importantly, for him at least, what this means in terms of the required policies.

It is, unavoidably, a political manifesto, but the politics are spread thinly enough to be palatable.

The best histories of the crisis will not be written for some time, but this is a welcome and compact reminder of where we have been. A year ago we were debating whether a 'credit crunch' would spread to the 'real' economy. Six months ago we were genuinely on the brink of a complete banking collapse. Now we are in a deep recession, which back at the start of the crunch, barely anyone predicted.

Cable is not a main player in the saga, so there are no revelations, but he is a well-informed and intelligent observer that has something to say. Even if you do not agree with his politics, this is a book well worth reading.

Four stars.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overtaken 29 Jun 2009
When Cable was writing this book last autumn, it was a reasonably good idea. Discussions about the credit crunch and the economic crisis in all quarters were terribly confused. There was, for a time, a danger that it would be blamed on the collapse of the housing bubble, and the dangers of some very risky banking practices like collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps would be ignored because they were not understood.
But since the economic crisis has hit us so hard, there has been continued attention to its roots and by now it seems that even politicians have recognized that there was something deeply wrong with the banking practices and financial instruments that created this crisis. Whether they will be seriously addressed remains to be seen, but some kind of realization has now dawned on most of the media and politicians.
The main problem with this book is that it tries to cover not just the origins of the credit crunch, but a host of other issues such as global energy markets and the implications of Chinese economic growth and its low level of consumer spending. It tries to do a little too much and ends up spreading itself rather thin.
But even the things it does get right, such as explaining the origin of the credit crunch, have been overtaken by more up-to-date analyses (eg John Lanchester's excellent essay in London Review of Books); the same goes for remarks on China, which have been rather overtaken by Paul Mason's excellent films for Newsnight in the last few weeks.
In short, this is a decent analysis, slightly constrained by Cable's commitment to orthodox thinking, but unfortunately, already looks out of date.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Gives the reader an insight into behind the scenes events in the Political arena during the worst economic turmoil in recent history. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Brian Willis
5.0 out of 5 stars If you wondered how we got into this recession this book will tell you
Written in 2009 before he knew he would be in Government this book outlines how we got in this mess and dispels some of the myths talked about. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Stephen Trinder
5.0 out of 5 stars The man is a legend
The only man with the intelligence and conviction to speak out against the banking culture at the time when nobody else had spotted to horizon.
Published 15 months ago by John Goodfellow
5.0 out of 5 stars How we got into this mess
Vince Cable produces a very easily readable & comprehensive explanation of how we got into the global financial crisis taking us up to the autumn of 2009. Read more
Published on 16 April 2012 by coldcomfort
4.0 out of 5 stars Once i got the book it was great!
I would really recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finance, the economy or even politics. If you are studying any of the above you will also find it helpful. Read more
Published on 25 Oct 2010 by K
4.0 out of 5 stars Who Caused It? Which Pundits Predicted It? Who Pays For It?
This is a very good book about what the technical causes of the "credit crunch" and most recent economic downturn in North America and UK/Eurozone. Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2010 by Ian Millard
1.0 out of 5 stars Cassandra calling
Vince Cable made his name through announcing the crash of 2008 before it became full-blown. But it's one thing to see a storm on its way, and quite another thing to plan and... Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2010 by back to basics
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable, Understandable and Insightful
I have never been that interested in economics and have certainly never read a book on the subject before. However, Vince Cable has changed that for me. Read more
Published on 4 Jun 2010 by Dee Vincent-Day
4.0 out of 5 stars I Didn't Understand It, But Then Again, I Was Foolish To Think I Would
This is a book on economics by a man I have much respect for. The title of my review speaks from my own personal perceptions of the book as, having exactly no understanding of even... Read more
Published on 15 May 2010 by Caleb Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars How long in the wilderness?
After 300(?) economists criticised Thatcher at her hammering VAT increase which brought the UK economy back on the rails despite their views, it is a pity VC's warnings to Brown in... Read more
Published on 3 May 2010 by Stan Ford
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