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on 8 September 2011
The media coverage of this book makes out that it's either a book about RBS and Fred Goodwin or about gender in banks, but it's actually much more.

Writing in an entertaining and accessible manner, Hancock and Zahawi examine the economic crash in a different way to other books and bring it alive with stories about the people who were involved. At the heart of their analysis and their solutions is behavioural economics, terms like loss aversion, bystander effect and prospect theory are all explained and used to explain the irrational behaviour that led us to the brink.

Whilst their conclusions on gender have been well trailed by the media there's a lot more in there on the Vickers review, the way corporate governance works and how we tackle the current regime of rewards for failure in banking, and in business across the board.
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on 23 September 2011
Masters of Nothing is a hugely accessible, well researched and authoritative account of the events surrounding the banking crisis, written insightfully from the perspective of human behaviour.

Unlike many of the other works that tackle this subject which are fairly biased towards events in America, this book takes a more balanced approach and looks in detail at events that unfolded in London too.

The authors are both Conservative MPs, so it is no surprise that the previous administration takes many punches, although they are well argued and evidenced!

In many respects, this book tells the same story as the seminal Black Swan, but is infinitely easier and more fun to read!
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on 13 September 2011
I initially bought this book to further my understanding of "The Crash" without having much knowledge of the authors and their established backgounds. Upon investigation however I learned that not only do the authors (Nadhim Zahawi and Matthew Hancock) have significant economic knowledge of the intricacies of the crash, but they were also active businessmen and economists during its occurence. From their established past's, a great book has been written that speaks with authority. It spectacularly combines human nature and finance using credible evidence and well conducted research and the book's fluidity contributed to what was ultimately an enjoyable read. 5 stars!
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on 5 December 2012
There are many things on which I disagree with my MP, Nadhim Zahari; but for my money, he should arrange to have George Osborne abducted by aliens, and acquire the position of Chancellor for himself. This book demonstrates clearly how the current financial crisis came about, and suggests admirable solutions. The irony is that anyone with half a brain cell could see it coming: only the testosterone-fuelled lunatics at the top of Industry and Government failed to do so!

As ever, the book arrived in advance of the promised date and its second-hand condition (an ex-library book, indeed) was excellent.
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on 29 December 2013
There are many books which survey the events which led up to the financial crisis, and then chart its course. This book is different. It looks at the behaviour of the people involved: taking appalling risks because of inappropriate rewards; herd behaviour; the worst practices of male dominated groups and much more.

"You have to pay the most to get the best" is shown to be a fallacy, indeed a pernicious lie. The people who caused the crash are indeed "Masters of Nothing"

If only we could dismantle that and return to appropriate rewards, in right proportion to other people's remuneration, then how much better it would be for us all.

The final chapter gives a series of recommendations which, if followed, would transform our financial sector, indeed our whole society. The book would be worth it for those alone.
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on 12 October 2015
A clearly argued and extensively researched and supported review of the importance of human behaviour in driving outcomes. This sheds light on why the current methods of regulation and auditing needs to change rapidly to meet the demands of the 21st century and prevent what will clearly happen again if we continue to do what we have always done.Why oh why do those in charge not listen? The answer is in the book, so let's create a movement that will make them have to! Who wants to join me?
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on 12 February 2012
I have read quite a few books on the financial crisis but this book is unusual in that it concentrates on the underlying motovational reasons which caused the crisis and, more importantly, the actions need to be taken to help avoid the next crisis. It is a must-read if you want to understand what and why we had a financial crisis and what can be done about it.

The authors appear to be in a position of influence and I hope that David Cameron and George Osborne have this book by their bedside and re-read it on a regular basis.

If you enjoy this book then you will find that it is complemented by David Bolchover's book "Pay Check" which expands on the damage that excessive, unjustified rewards are doing to the majority of people in this country and also why these reward are distorting the proper operation of a capitalist society.
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on 8 February 2015
Recognising that our future is based on human behaviour which is infinitively variable the authors try to put forward ideas that will protect us more effectively. A great book that must be revised annually to bring it up to date with latest developments in politics and financial regulation.
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on 10 October 2011
It's remarkable that, to my observation anyway, this important and highly readable book has received little attention in the mainstream media. Hancock and Zahawi, both MPs and each expert in the history of the current and earlier financial crashes do a marvelous job of presenting the collective madness which overtook not only bankers but the whole western governing class, producing the present financial catastrophe now threatening to engulf us all.
They start by dismissing the myth that `nobody could have anticipated' the crisis often dated from with the Lehman crash in 2008. Not only could they - they did. Foremost among them Sir Andrew Large - then Deputy Governor of the Bank of England - who in 2004 (three years since the first bank-run in England since 1866) gave a public lecture that can now be seen as a most powerful and eloquent warning about the coming crash. He continued his warnings for two years and was virtually ignored. Distinguished economists such as Nouriel Roubini and Raghuram Rajan - chief economist of the IMF no less - were uttering similar warnings, infuriating politicians and bankers on both sides of the Atlantic who continued to ignore them. The authors' analysis of how this could have happened is acute and well informed, being drawn from many different disciplines in the study of human behavior. (Zahawi is a founder of the YouGov polling organization) Central to their findings is one simple fact: human beings are not 100% rational; and to programme successive generations of increasingly more powerful computers on the basis that they are, risks - as we now know - terrible mistakes.

Masters of Nothing takes no prisoners; its analysis of the collapse of RBS makes grimly satisfying reading to haters of Sir Fred Goodwin. There's an excellent chapter on the absence of women from the top of high finance. The book is not a left-wing tract and this is no mere matter of political correctness: rather an indication of the strength of the ferocious, irrational testosterone-loaded culture within which so much damage was done. The book concludes with a thought-provoking and highly practical set of suggestions for reform and in the current coalition government's initial proposals, one can perhaps see their influence. I hope so; and that the absence of acknowledgment of Masters of Nothing in the mainstream media is not an indication that its authors have been relegated to join the `Fools in the Corner' who were the only ones who might have saved us from our present plight - if only we had listened.
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on 10 October 2011
I agree with the comments of all the other five star reviewers. I really like the way the authors clearly explain the technical complexities of the bundles of debt that threatened the entire banking system as well as the psychological reasons for the behaviour that perpetuated it. This is a highly readable, educated, fair and insightful study of the crash - a must-read for all who have followed this debacle from the start.
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