Chose this book as I worked in the city of London from 1960 until 1995. Found it most interesting as a lot the people mentioned I knew or knew of. Would recommend, to people who also worked in the city
With the disappearance of village life have gone many of the City's most colourful figures, vividly depicted by Mr Kynaston. The working day has grown, and the screen has replaced the trading floor. The incoming US banks have supplied a few figures of their own.The atmosphere of the village, where everybody knew everybody else allowed financial regulation to be an informal matter of Etonian codes of honour. The move to formal regulation was driven by a series of home-grown City scandals, from the debacle at Lloyd's to the destruction of the ancient house of Barings by Nick Leeson's speculations. Fantastic, fascinating and forceful.
In this book, financial journalist David Kynaston tells in loving detail the story of the City of London since 1945.
He reminds us of all those City scandals, like Guinness, Blue Arrow, BCCI, Robert Maxwell (backed to the end by Goldman Sachs) and Barings, its endemic crime of insider dealing, and its self-serving incompetence, as when insurance firms wrongly advised more than two million people to leave their occupational pension schemes.
The City claims to help the economy by directing investment into production and growth, but it has not done this. Instead it takes money out of the economy, away from production. It seizes the wealth created by real work, and loots from the constant stream of capital hurtling round the globe - other people's money, our savings, mortgages and pensions - and gambles it away. The interests of what Kynaston calls `infinitely amoral international capital' conflict with Britain's real interests, particularly our industry.
He shows how the City has always backed the most backward forces and policies. He recounts how in the 1975 referendum on EEC membership, "The City, so far as one can tell, was almost unanimously in favour of a `Yes' vote. Two months ahead of voting the clearing banks agreed to contribute £200,000 to the `Britain in Europe' campaign."
He notes, on "the larger question of whether City sentiment as a whole was supportive of Thatcherite economics during these early, highly controversial years of the Thatcher era. Broadly, as far as one can tell, it was ..." And not just in the early years: in the June 1987 election, City traders wore stickers saying, "We all say YES to Maggie."
Successive governments - none more than Brown's - have embraced the treachery in the City. Instead, we need to put Britain, and Britain's industry, first, and make finance serve our national interest of employing all our people in useful work, making what we need.