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on 26 January 2013
I'm an old unreconstructed leftie so please take all my comments with that in mind.

I bought this because I was interested in another perspective on the financial melt down & Mr Fraser-Sampson explains the crash from an avowedly right wing point of view. I don't agree with his analysis but it is well argued with a reasonably in-depth overview of the conservative/ 'orange book liberal' economic view.

Strangely his recipe for future success seems to look with considerable envy to the Chinese 'top down' model & his analysis of the banks fails to explain why reduced legal oversight would make them more rather than less risk averse.

Therefore I would recommend this book, but suggest that a wider range of opinion be read (for example; for bank risk taking- 'Whoops' by John Lanchester) before coming to any well reasoned conclusion.
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on 28 May 2013
Despite the awful cover (like a bad Andy Warhol painting) and the even worse title, this a is not a bad book.

It covers much of the post-war economic landscape in the UK and the USA and takes a look at the economic policies of both countries, especially the UK. Having said that, much of the information could have been condensed. Anyone who has studied economics (or similar subjects) should know much of the stuff off by heart.

The book would make an excellent introduction for anyone studying economics at just before university level (secondary and sixth form) and even at undergraduate level. Unfortunately, given the slight right-wing bias, some parents may not want their children being taught such things. Look at the reaction the death of Margaret Thatcher caused. The author of the book has some admiration for the now deceased grocer's daughter from Grantham.

Further, I suspect a book that teaches that most politicians cannot be trusted is not likely to go down well with any minister for education (especially the current one, Michael Gove).

Can you imagine the average sixteen-year-old suddenly putting his (or her)hand up in the air and and asking, "Why can't our pensions be linked in the same way as those of the politicians and those that work in the Bank of England?"

The truth? "Because they think you're NOTHING compared to them. Even the Queen thinks you're nothing."

The main problem is that the last chapter "Getting Ourselves Out of This Mess" doesn't really address the issues. Real freedom (as proposed by the economist the author most admires in the book,Hayek) involves real responsibilities and if people started to take real responsibility for their lives they wouldn't bother voting for politicians; there would be no point.

Further, we should ask ourselves why people like Cameron (current UK prime minister) and his buddies, like Osborne, Johnson and Feldman, bother going into politics at all: they all have outside forms of income. Further still, we should ask ourselves why they need titles like Sir and Lord. Andrew Feldman is or course a Lord, the title was given to him by his "tennis" buddy, David Cameron.

Without forcing people to take responsibility for their lives and without challenging the personal interests of the people who misgovern us, then no change will actually occur. Even when bozos like Obama promise us (or at least the American public) any real change - it doesn't happen. Obama, like Cameron, only cares about his own ego!

One idea of mine would be to have women who have babies be forced to name a father on the birth certificate. (No "single" mothers like Geri Halliwell.) The father would then be responsible for the baby (along with the mother, of course). No father, no baby. It should be allowed to die in the hospital. Of course, we already have a similar policy; it's called abortion on demand. I would be interested to see how much this policy costs the taxpayer!

Another policy would be to stop giving all these pointless titles (like Sir and Lord). This would stop incompetent people, like Sir (as he was) Fred Goodwin and Lord (as he still is) Dennis Stevenson and Sir Victor Blank getting too much credit and causing so much damage.

Politicians LIKE the welfare state; it turns us all into their slaves! They couldn't care less how things turn out. They know their nest-eggs are secure. Former Portuguese prime minister is now back in Portugal (after almost personally ruining the economy and then fleeing to Paris) and giving interviews (for which we assume he is paid) to give his "side of the story". There is only one side: he was (and remains) an incompetent buffoon.
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on 22 January 2013
This book reminded me of why I enjoyed economics at college. Good historical background put the whole mess in context. A good read for anyone interested in the subject, controversial in parts but ultimately a hard truth.
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on 20 January 2013
This explains the mess that politicians have created over the decades. Some solutions are offered but ultimately as the author suggests there is no way most of these solutions will be accepted by politicians or the public who will be affected. I get the impression that Guy like many Thatcherites who are from privileged backgrounds can offer solutions without suffering the detrimental effects that these would have. on the majority of the plebs
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on 27 November 2012
To anyone interested in how we have got into the current economic crisis, and who isn't; and wants an understanding of how we are, if possible, going to get out of it, then this brilliantly written book is a must. I am no economist, but, take a keen interest in politics and current affairs. Economics is the bedrock on which a nation or society is founded. It encompasses every aspect of our lives. Yet we, as a people, have allowed the politicians and central bankers to march us inexorably into a crisis that is quite frankly of their making.

The author takes us through an analysis of economic history of the 20th century and brings us up to date with a clear description of the causes of the current economic disaster. He concludes with a clear, precise and radical five point plan that could save our economy from the otherwise inevitable total collapse of the near future. Sadly, as the author admits, one that is unlikely to be achieved due to the need to change and indeed chain our politicians.

The subject matter of this book has the potential to make for a very stuffy and hard read. However, Mr Fraser-Sampson's style of writing is interesting, informative and very easy going on those of us not blessed with academic minds and ultra high IQ's. A fascinating study and a must for anyone remotely interested in the economics and politics of everyday survival.
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on 16 May 2013
Yes this is a right-wing argument. But then isn't it difficult to try to make any kind of argument about the financial crisis, and how to solve it, without having a strong viewpoint one way or the other? Recognising that the Tory and Labour positions differ essentially by whether the crisis should be solved by a prolonged period of austerity or by piling debt onto more debt, this is a book which unashamedly supports the former viewpoint. Regardless of whether you agree with that position, it is hard to dispute that the arguments are well presented, and well argued here. I admit to being something of an economics virgin, so I'm sure that the first thing I should do after reading this would be to go and read the Guardian for a few weeks just for some balance. But nevertheless, this book is informative about the history of the British economy over the last 100 years or so, and uses that to make its case in a well-ordered and logical way. I could (perhaps should?) easily be convinced.
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on 21 February 2013
Perhaps naively I was looking for some serious balanced analysis and, given the interconnectedness of finance, global analysis. Instead there is a very parochial view of 2012 written with a tendentiousness that increases through the book. Factually there are a few misconceptions, for instance the author either doesn't fully understand bank capital or cannot explain it. These do not detract from the argument, though,as there isn't one.

If you want to save the price of purchase the answer to the question in the title is apparently that economic issues require long term solutions whereas all politicians only look to the next ballot. However have we missed that all these years?

In fairness if you know next to nothing about the UK financial world this book will give you an overview, albeit opinionated, of some major UK issues. If you want to understand why national governments across the developed world are all in a similar pickle, read elsewhere.
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on 3 April 2013
I liked this book. It had a good mix of economics, politics, history and idealism which keeps you interested in a very detailed subject. The author's obvious political slant doesn't distract him from trying to paint an objective view of the "Banking Crisis" and the reasons we got there. But like every idealist (I know, cos I am one) he ties himself in knots around the subject of regulation. Abolish it? - Well you could, if humans didn't make the leap from self-interest to greed quicker than you can say "Double-dip Recession"! Although, I was drawn to his ideas on political reform.
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on 20 August 2012
There are a good many books dealing with the present economic crisis facing the UK and Europe but I have not read anything that places the mess in the context of post war history, economics, philosophy and, perhaps most importantly, politics. In essence, the political system is the root cause, not of the economic cycle, but the total mismanagement of its effects. The cardinal rule is that short term good = long term bad and visa-versa. It seems that since 1918 politicians have never missed the chance to take the easy short-term option with predictable results.

The description of the current mess is brilliant and an easy (if disturbing) read. The end of the book is a recipe for recovery but even the author realizes that none of his recommendations are likely to be taken up. The inevitable end of the mess will be horrible but the book does not discuss how this will unfold.

In short, this is a good shocking book but it could have been a tiny bit better.
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on 4 November 2012
This book explains how politicians follow only short term goals, the main one being to get re-elected. The economy needs long term decisions and these are constantly being fudged and avoided altogether. In consequence, we have got deeper and deeper into debt as a nation and politicians, being the cause of the problem, are unable to be the solution. The book suggests what needs to be done, but pigs might fly before they are, hence the "depressing" in the title of this review.
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