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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Financial Follies
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...
Published on 23 April 2010 by Neutral

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superfluous detail makes for a selectively interesting read
A collection of business case studies, from Philip Green and Stuart Rose to Goldman Sachs and Allan Leighton, with trips into the dark alleys of government donations and the arguably inequitable corporate tax system.

Contains details and interesting personal interview extracts you won't find anywhere else. But reads like an exam script where the question (who...
Published on 9 Jan 2010 by M. Muddasar


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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worth it, 28 Dec 2008
By 
MrB (Newmarket, Suffolk, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
I got the impression that Peston was urged to put out a book quickly, so he used a lot of his old archive material (Green, M and S etc). But it's worth it as there are some good chapters on hedge funds, and a reminder that our banks were actually borrowing to buy all that toxic waste, which somehow drove home the stupidity of it all.
Not as good as his scoops!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but patchy, 30 Nov 2009
By 
Jason M. Webber "Jason" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
Overall an interesting and well written account of high finance in Britain in the last few years. Peston does a good job of explaining the technicalities of finance in an easy to understand way for the lay person.

The book does jump around a lot, slightly lacks focus and feels a lot more like a collection of stories (although they are all told very well) than a book with a proper theme.

Glad I've read it even though it made me angry and at times depressed (with the bankers and hedge funds, not Peston).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the truth of why the UK is in recession, 7 Feb 2009
By 
N. J. Wilson (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
Robert Peston in his book details how the supine FSA, raids on pensions by Gordon Brown as the Chancellor, feckless lending, together with little control of consumer spending got the world into this mess.

The message is that the colusion between the involved parties, means you must have cynical disregard for the City, finacial institutions and especiallyt the Government.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant lucid insight into the world of finance, 25 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
Mr Peston writes intelligently and interestingly and manages to make the most complex of subjects readily comprehensible to those of us who know little of the financial world. Essential and enjoyable (if alarming) reading for anyone who wants to know what's been going on in England over the last ten years with regard to banking, pensions, private equity and hedge funds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Who Runs Britain, 19 Nov 2013
By 
J. J. Ward (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a highly readable account of the UK's current problems, and still very relevant today, five years after it was first published. Peston writes clearly and his analysis is easy to follow and thought-provoking. A more accurate name for his book might have been its subtitle, "Who's to Blame For the Economic Mess We're In?" because the current title - "Who Runs Britain?" - is only tackled obliquely here. It's really a book about moneymakers and people buying influence. This is why I've given it four rather than five stars.

Some of "Who Runs Britain?" is explicitly speculative. One of Peston's biggest fears is that the financial-industry billionaires living more or less tax-free in Britain (and being encouraged to do so by Brown, and latterly Osborne) might well in the long term choose to use their money to found dynasties and influence politics. This is a very realistic anxiety, and Peston does his best to bring it out into the open. He's almost certainly right. "Who WILL run Britain?" might have been the best title of all.

The author has a talent for potted biography, and the chapters on Philip Green, Stuart Rose and Allan Leighton are amongst the most interesting and entertaining in the book (Green is especially interesting. If Peston is to be believed, he has an almost supernatural ability to know where any one person is, in London, at a given time). I felt better educated after reading this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who runs Britain?, 13 Aug 2011
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
I think that my review is a bit late. The book refers to a Labour government but without any change in legislation, I would have thought that the situations described in the book are likely to continue.

The big overriding issue that faces capitalism in this country is increased globalisation. Capital and workforces are increasingly mobile so that national boundaries become less important or relevant. This is shown most clearly with private equity. When I studied for my accountancy examinations in the 1990s, I recalled studying different capital structures and looking at the effects of gearing on companies' financial performance. My natural instinct was that companies financed by excessive borrowing were far less stable and more risky than ones financied by equity and retained profits. The book shows the effects of private equity, in which individuals can raise enormouse amounts of money from lenders (and put up little themselves) in order to purchase companies on corporate performance. Some of these companies result in fantastic efficiencies in which the companies make large profits. Furthermore, with a relatively small investment, the Return on Capital Employed ratio looks very impressive. However, Robert Peston points to a number of failures. The key issue is that the risk appears to be unequally spread. As the enterprises are debt funded, there is considerably less corporation tax to pay (so the Treasury loses out) and the companies also lose financial stability. Employment prospects of the workers in these business have been shown to be jeopardised. The book showns how politicians have been weak in combatting this often cynical kind of capitalism for fear that private equity specialists may go to less regulated economies.

The book looks at a number of other issues, such as hedge funds and toxic debt. I am not sure I fully understand the former after reading this book so do not feel qualified to commnet. The latter issue is something to which I have given some thought. The key thing to bear in mind is that one person's debt is another person's asset. The money that is lent to a borrower to purchase a home is of value to the lender because it carries interest over a long period of time. It is also safe because if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can simply repossess the property and any outstanding repayments. As an asset it is saleable and markets have developed for the trade of packages of these mortgages, known as Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs). The problem with these loans is that too many were made to people in the USA who were considered to be NINJAs (no income no jobs or assets). When house prices began falling in 2007/8 and too many people began defaulting, these CDOs became toxic. I think Robert Peston tells this story very well.

For me personally, the most important chapter was the one on pensions. Unfortunately, it is also hardgoing and does not give enough weight to the underlying demographic issues. Working life is starting later and pension investments are required to finance longer retirements than originally envisaged. This is for more significant than the stories that Robert Peston focuses on in the book.

The book is a very readable journalistic journey. Robert Peston is great at writing about the various colourful characters in the business world and there are some great stories. However, it is not an analytical book that really explains the scale of what is going on. For instance, it does not give any numbers of private equity enterprises compared to the listed stock market based businesses. I also don't think the book answers the question as to who runs Britain.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very well written and informative book., 27 Mar 2009
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This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
A very well written and informative book. For someone who works in retail I would say this is as must read. Sometimes with books like this they can be quite dry and a struggle to get through, but Peston keeps things simple without dumbing down to much. Definitely one of those books that you wish had been twice as long.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This explains the mess that we are in !, 7 April 2010
By 
Mr. Mg Reynolds "Carry On fan" (Oxfordshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother - very poor., 18 Jun 2012
By 
Film nut (Loughborough, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
While Preston would like you to believe he has his finger on the pulse of what makes Britain tick (financially), he doesn't. In this rather confused and ultimately self defeating analysis of what is wrong with Britain, he trawls through the usual susects of venture capitalism (hedge funds, equity companies, big banks and larger than life entrepeneurs aka Philip Green) not telling us much we didn't already know. You are left confused whether he secretry admires those that make mega bucks out of business or just condemns them. He also fails to actually identify who is to blame. His literary style is as irritating as his delivery on the BBC news. Very poor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars gives you an insight into the politics of this country - very good., 11 July 2014
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This review is from: Who Runs Britain?: and Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in (Paperback)
Interesting read, gives you an insight into the politics of this country - very good.
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