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5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, no-nonsense overview of how the global economic architecture was let down by human failings., 22 April 2014
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Gionnelle (Liverpool UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Who's in Charge Here? (Penguin Specials): How Governments are Failing the World Economy (Penguin Shorts/Specials) (Kindle Edition)
For anyone wanting a primer on the national and institutional architectures that failed to prevent the banking and sovereign crises since 2008, look no further. Alan Beattie writes with expertise and wit as he shines a light on the incompetence and political and ideological dogma that has prevented our representatives from carrying out their mandated duties.
Indispensable reading for understanding why the crises are not being resolved, despite there being necessary tools and expertise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent review of the (mis)management of the global economy, 5 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Who's in Charge Here? (Penguin Specials): How Governments are Failing the World Economy (Penguin Shorts/Specials) (Kindle Edition)
This is a short book, perhaps even just an extended essay, but none the worse for that, it makes easy reading of a challenging subject, although the reader will need to be reasonably au fait with the basics of economics as the author doesn't dwell on providing detailed explanations for the novice. It's well enough done that Alan Beattie might consider developing a more heavyweight treatise on the same theme, if so, I'll be first in line. As implied by the title, the message of the book is that the global economy is being mismanaged by Governments and international institutions alike. The focus is, of course, the great financial crisis that still rumbles on in 2014. He traces how the mistaken policy of light touch regulation by governments (most spectacularly the US and UK), combined with the hubris of the global bankers (who actually believed that their toxic derivatives had taken the risk out of banking, whereas they multiplied the risk exponentially), created an unsustainable mega-boom which (contrary to Gordon Brown's mantra) ended in a mega-bust that no-one saw coming. He goes on to relate how governments came to the rescue in highly ineffectual fashion, describing them rather beautifully as a "cavalry of pantomime horses." International institutions, such as the World Bank, the ECB and the IMF, are all subject to his scathing scrutiny. To me one of the most interesting and perhaps worrying passages is when Beattie talks about the self-interested positioning of national governments; he gives plenty of stark illustrations, such as those who argue fervently for free trade (except for their own precious agricultural/industrial/energy sector, of course), or free floating market determined exchange rates (and our printing of money/exchange rate support isn't manipulating the market). The truth is they face "the prisoner's dilemma" whereby individual sanity translates into collective madness. I would have liked Beattie to have said more about what is possible: is the global economy simply too big and complex to manage, will politicians ever be able to manage economies for the long-term when they are elected on short-term populism, can international institutions ever work when the national governments they represent are driven by self-interest? He eloquently relates the problems, I'm not sure he was as convincing on the possibility of solutions. There were just a few moments when I began to disagree, most notably when I detected hints of an unbridled Keynesian approach as the solution. Otherwise I found this a thoroughly entertaining and thought provoking read and have no hesitation in recommending it.
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