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Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in [Paperback]

Robert Peston
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Oct 2008

On 13 September 2007, Robert Peston broke the news that Northern Rock had become a victim of the global credit crunch and was seeking an emergency loan from the Bank of England. It was the latest in a long line of scoops by this award-winning journalist. Over the weeks that followed, the Government found itself exposed to the Rock to the tune of 57 billion, or almost £2000 for every taxpayer.As Robert Peston shows in his fascinating new book, the seeds for the collapse of Northern Rock and the upheavals in the financial markets were sown years before.

WHO RUNS BRITAIN? is the first time anyone has drawn all the threads together to weave a story that's rich in extraordinary characters and outrageous feats of economic bravado. This book is about the widening gap between the super-rich and the rest of us. It explores and explodes the myth that the financial creativity of those who are amassing these vast fortunes is good for the wider economy and for all of us. Whether you're a financial expert or just have a bank account, WHO RUNS BRITAIN? is a book you must read.

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

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; First Paperback Edition edition (30 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340839449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340839447
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,772 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


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

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)

starkly lucid (Polly Toynbee, Guardian)

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

engaging (Harry Mount, Telegraph)

Peston is our rock... The triumph of Robert Peston makes me proud of my old paper, the BBC and of journalism in general. (Sarah Sands in Independent on Sunday )

This remains the most riveting book on finance you may ever bother to read. (Evening Standard)

I recommend this book (Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian)

wonderful clarity (Sunday Telegraph )

this remains the most riveting book on finance you may ever bother to read (Scotsman)

Book of the year (Financial Times)

Book Description

BBC Business Editor Robert Peston lifts the lid on credit crunch Britain and the rise of the super-rich.

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Financial Follies 23 April 2010
Robert Peston asks a question he is unable to answer. This was certainly the case on Black Wednesday as Kenneth Clarke admitted in a television interview.On that occasion Peston's argument that decisions taken by an international super-rich stateless elite have unduly influenced policy and over-rode policy makers seems true. In so doing they have scooped a disproportional amount of the nation's wealth and the gap between rich and poor has increased no less under New Labour than under the Conservatives. What does emerge from Peston's coverage is that there are times when it is far from apparent whether anyone is running the country.

Peston identifies inefficiencies within the decision making system of which pensions is a good example. In 1997 Gordon Brown raided the pension funds of final salary schemes, removing tax credit on dividends. the reason behind Brown's policy was clear. He wanted to raise revenue to reduce the structural deficit in the public finances. Treasury officials expressed concern but Brown went ahead. The result was a decline in income to pensions funds over a five year period from £7.1 bn to £3.3.bn. Final salary schemes collapsed. Yet Brown's policy was the logical extension of Nigel Lawton's 1988 decision to limit the amount of surplus schemes could retain and of Norman Lamont's reduction in tax credits to pension schemes in 1993. Both were designed to raise revenue.

The political myopia demonstrated by politicians then became a farce with the introduction of stakeholder pensions. Theoretically designed to prevent alleged mis-selling and provide for the less wealthy, the stakeholder became a tax-free vehicle for the rich. Pensions minister, Ian McCartney, ignored unwelcome research statistics because they came from a Conservative David Willetts.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A. J. Sudworth VINE VOICE
I liked this book a lot because it does not treat the reader like an idiot
What is also good is that he evidently has talked to the people involved and so it includes a huge amount of personal views from some of the main protagonists. His explanation of the greed of the finacial wizards, the wrong headed approach of the government and the effects on you and I is very clear - the only problem after reading this is that the depths of the problems in the financial sector look a lot worse and its clear that we as individuals will pay for this collective failure.
I did not give it five stars because of a style issue is that certain things were repeated a number of times so that it read a bit like a collection of essays but overall if you want to understand why we have the problems in the financial sector and now the real world economy then I can recommend this. Think of the plus when someone asks you what a Structured Investment Vehicle (SIV) is - and thanks to this you will know. You'll be bemused was to why it was ever thought a good idea, but you will know what it was and why valuing them became such a problem.
And finally it comprehensively shows the failings of the Prime Minister when he was chancellor - he may not have caused all the problems but the policies he pursued have made the problem worse for us all - and our grandchildren as well. Read this and I suspect that you will not see him as 'Super Gordon' after this.
Damm good read - making financial economics interesting !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This explains the mess that we are in ! 7 April 2010
If you want an honest assessment of how we ended up in this debt created crisis then this book reveals all.It shows how politicians cozied up to the rich while ruining pension funds and presiding over an unsustainable boom.You begin to see how the public debt grew as Labour tried to frame the public debate on public spending in a manner difficult for the Tories.As an M&S employee I am interested in all the take-over battles at Marks & Spencer when Sir Stuart Rose went head to head with Sir Philip Green.

This book is balanced as it points out that Lawson,Lamont and Clarke had a hand in the demise of final salary pension funds and that Brown has merely accelerated their demise by applying those flawed Tory policies faster.It shows how the stock-market went from providing a decent retirement income for most people to making a few folk into billionaires instead.Labour have ignored the democratic desire to get the rich to pay their fair-share of taxes to keep the wealthy in the UK so that public services could be funded without over-taxing middle-England or without(until recently) borrowing too much.

My point is that the banks lend money that we have in our savings accounts and that government spends money from us that we pay in taxes.So that is what is wrong about the ban bail-out as it is our money that has been used to sort out a mess created by supposedly intelligent people abusing our money(and by definition our trust).

But to conclude Robert Peston provides a balanced account of things and does point out that private equities,hedge funds and private sector involvement in the public sector are not always bad.City Academies prove that point.

I recommend this book to a person with an open & scholarly mind who wishes to be better informed about the present situation.Amazon are selling it for a fair price after all and it is well worth a read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where has all the money gone? 1 Feb 2009
Robert Peston writes excellent understandable and uncluttered english,dealing with what could be a complicated subject in a straightforward way [just like his television appearances].His detailed background knowledge of his subject, and the players in it,is impressive,and his explanations as to how and where the billions of all our money has gone,whilst not surprising,is most revealing.A must read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Who indeed?
I enjoyed this book, very well written with good detail, the research is excellent and it certainly opens ones eyes and gives greater insight
Published 19 days ago by ProfPenguin
5.0 out of 5 stars gives you an insight into the politics of this country - very good.
Interesting read, gives you an insight into the politics of this country - very good.
Published 3 months ago by D.Enamu
4.0 out of 5 stars a wake up call for old romantics
Well written and easy to follow. Basically Bobby P is telling us that the super-rich run the world, and that this is getting more so, not less. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mike Duncombe
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read.
Excellently researched, good and balanced account of the UK retail, political and financial institutions and there pracrices . Read more
Published 5 months ago by ruth harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars good
This is not an easy read but well worth the effort. It sheds light on a lot of things and is very thought provoking
Published 8 months ago by I. Asquith
5.0 out of 5 stars Preston
Robert Preston is always a joy on TV and I thought this book is bound to please. Highly recommended should keep you riveted.
Published 8 months ago by Mr. E. Goody
5.0 out of 5 stars present for my brother
so hard to get presents for my brother..think the1st time got him something that he really happy with and has already read
Published 9 months ago by dawn
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Who Runs Britain
This is a highly readable account of the UK's current problems, and still very relevant today, five years after it was first published. Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. J. Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars Who runs Britain
Robert Peston writes a non political summary on Britains economic mess from Callaghans euro bailout to Brown's gross mishandling of the UK economy. Read more
Published 12 months ago by pennina
4.0 out of 5 stars Financial affairs.
Excellent writing with really good information.
The detail can get a bit boring at times but the insight into international and domestic financial dealings is aweinspiring.
Published 14 months ago by Jeff Baldwin
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