Cowardly Capitalism: The Myth of the Global Financial Casino Hardcover – 9 Mar 2001
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Cowardly Capitalism is nothing if not a provocative title for a book that invites the reader to indulge in some vigorous mental gymnastics. Given the usual depiction of capitalism as an all-devouring monster, it comes as something of a shock that it might be thought of more as the lily-livered lion in The Wizard of Oz. Fear of risk rather than a willingness to risk is the prevailing mood, according to Cowardly Capitalism. The financial markets are not, after all, the casinos of popular metaphor.
The pinkishness of many Financial Times journalists is legendary, so it's hardly a surprise to learn that former FT man Daniel Ben-Ami is now a senior editor with Morningstar. What is more of a surprise is that anyone connected with a traditional anti-capitalist name should be berating that same economic system for, in effect, not being ruthless and buccaneering enough; for preferring to save and preserve rather than invest and exploit. These are, indeed, interesting times. An intrinsic system of risk management can hinder economic activity, says Ben-Ami in the chapter entitled "Killing The Patient: Why the quest for safety can be dangerous"--a chapter that addresses the problems of sustainable rates of growth and financial instability. Readers would expect certain standards from an author with such a pedigree (FT, Economist Intelligence Unit, The Guardian) and they will not be disappointed. Ben-Ami writes clearly and lucidly, as, for example, in a brief passage on Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK since New Labour came to power in 1997. Ben-Ami highlights the "Iron Chancellor" as an arch-exponent of an approach that refuses to consider the possibility that a degree of instability may often be a price worth paying for faster growth. "In his emphasis on prudence and in his other rhetoric he often sounds more like the manager of a small bank branch than the finance minister of a large economy," says the author. --Brian Bollen
"Ben–Ami′s well–written and thought–provoking book, is bound to attract considerable comment. This book will not be one of your riskier investments."
(Lloyd′s List, 3rd March 2001)
" This is a thoughtful, easy–to–read book which nevertheless tackles big issues from a fresh perspective."
(Portfolio International, May 2001)
(MoneyWise, June 2001)
(Financial News,13 August 2001)
"His is a brilliant introduction to the impenetrable world of high finance and an uncompromising analysis of its function in the contemporary economy."
(The Independent, 23rd June 2001)
"well–documented short book...a book to make you think"
(IFS News, June 2001)
(www.zdnet.co.uk 23 October 2001)
Top Customer Reviews
Insofar as there is volatility in the financial markets, (recent examples being the Asian crisis and the recent ups and downs of technology stocks), it is not just down to the frantic activities of traders. Ben Ami's argument is that it has to be seen in relation to the real economy. Here the author suggests that high levels of liquidity and volatility in the financial system is actually a product of slow growth in the real economy, as companies engage in financial engineering and pour money back into the financial markets, rather than invest elsewhere.
The main point is well worth thinking about. We tend to concentrate on financial volatility but miss the problem of risk aversion and a lack of dynamism. The result is slower growth in the economy and relatively dynamic areas such as technology.