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Selfish Whining Monkeys: How we Ended Up Greedy, Narcissistic and Unhappy
Selfish Whining Monkeys: How we Ended Up Greedy, Narcissistic and Unhappy
by Rod Liddle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I wish I could disagree, but I can't", 25 Jun. 2014
As with Rod Liddle's provocative articles, I would like to be able to disagree with his acerbic commentary, but I can't. Liddle provides a valuable antidote to politically correct and inane comment and none moreso than in this personal book, which provokes and entertains almost in equal measure. Reading the book is like sitting with a friend over a pint and discussing the state of the world we live in, and finding the companion well informed and willing to speak his mind. Amidst the commentary are useful insights into disturbing aspects of the way we live and I find it helpful to have a guide who has political views but prefaced with common sense and grounded philosophy, rather than regurgitated and fixed contemporary views. The book is refreshing in its candour but depressing in the points it makes. As a nineteen sixties child, with many similarities in background to Liddle, I found that I read the book avidly, with my head nodding, when I wasn't chortling at some of the more choice and stinging comments. I would like to imagine the 'bien pensant' reaction to the book, as they choke over their semi skimmed lattes.


Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy
Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy
Price: £5.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and readable, 14 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Iain Martin has taken on the difficult task of trying to describe what went so woefully wrong at RBS and to give some historic perspective to what was a provincial bank that 'exploded' on to the global scene in just over a decade. I can't imagine that those directly involved were queuing up to give Mr Martin first hand accounts of what went on and, under the circumstances, he has created a readable and informative account of a contender for most disastrous bank award, an award that is sadly competed for by another Scottish based bank (whose demise is described well in Ray Perman's book). The first chapter grips, as it was well intended to, but sadly not as a Hollywood script or work of fiction but as a narrative on just how serious the consequences of RBS' situation was for us all. The fact that the economic system could be so interdependent on the actions of a relatively limited number of organisations and in turn be affected by a limited number of misguided senior representatives of these organisations, as jollied on by shareholders and governments alike, is terrifying. Iain Martin conveys this well without resorting to overt personalisation,when it must have been tempting to do so.
I suspect that Mr Martin may have the opportunity to revisit his book in years to come as more and more information becomes public, and the threats of personal attack on those who shine lights on public affairs lessen, but in the meantime, he and a few other commentators have provided a highly valuable insight into something that should never have been allowed to happen but, sadly, through vested interests or ignorance of how global finance might work in the 21st Century, might 'make it happen again'.


Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain
Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain
Price: £2.78

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Need to understand, 14 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There have been three very informative books on the demise of RBS and HBOS, all of which merit close reading. They go some way to providing detail on how provincial banks embarked on aggressive growth, abandoned their customer raison d'être, provided platforms for massive rewards based on what are now known to have been illusory profits, and for some time were applauded for doing so by shareholders and governments of the day. The folly and recklessness are now all too apparent and whilst the RBS versus HBOS circumstances had unique characteristics (HBOS did not have an embedded investment bank), the parallels of rash lending to poor credit on inflated values, with paper thin equity to support the risks taken and over reliance on wholesale financing markets, become clear. Ray Perman has provided excellent coverage of how what at one time would have been regarded as a very secure lending and deposit taking institution was sacrificed in a decade to 'stack em high, sell em cheap' approach to banking, all the more disturbing in many respects as there wasn't even a rash of corporate acquisitions to blame it all on, as there was for RBS.
Perman has avoided subjective judgement and allowed the facts to tell their own story, which does not make pretty reading for those involved, not least as one suspects that Perman, as an outsider, could not possibly have been given access to 'some of the stuff that must have gone on'. Should be recommended reading for anyone in the banking industry.


Shredded: Inside RBS: The Bank that Broke Britain
Shredded: Inside RBS: The Bank that Broke Britain
Price: £7.79

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important addition to understanding of what went wrong at RBS, 13 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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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