For people in my position, ie very ignorant about financial affairs, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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Peston has given me access to all sorts of things that were previously off my radar, and for that I feel enormously grateful. I have bought the book though and hope to tackle it another time, when I feel stronger.
View all 21 comments. Feb 10, Mark Hebden rated it really liked it Shelves: politics. It took a lot of guts for me to read a book by someone who describes themselves as an unabashed capitalist but read it I did. The imbalance of our society is well presented as the author draws on his experiences and dealings with the 21st Century nouveau riche. For a book almost solely about It took a lot of guts for me to read a book by someone who describes themselves as an unabashed capitalist but read it I did.
I now feel I know a bit more about hedge funds, private equity, off-balance sheet transactions and pension liabilities, and at no stage while this was being explained did I feel bored, a testament to the authors natural ability to get his message across succinctly without losing the narrative. At times the book goes of on a bit of a tangent when talking about certain high fliers in the business world.
Democracy is a historic shadow on the world of super-finance that responds neither to public will or elected representatives. This book is a one small chapter of a work in progress on the transformation of our society in to a leviathan of unfairness and inequality. Jul 20, Andrew rated it did not like it Shelves: non-fiction , , past-andrex-award-winners.
There are books that can't be put down. Then there are books that you can't wait to put down in order that you can have the opportunity to read something interesting. Disappointingly, this fell firmly into the latter category. The reasons for this are numerous. Firstly, it provides little in the way of useful information that the ordinary person in the street would not be able to provide. There are exceptions to this but the bulk of the text falls far short of answering the question which forms t There are books that can't be put down.
There are exceptions to this but the bulk of the text falls far short of answering the question which forms the title of this book. It includes a chapter on the dominance of Private Equity firms prior to the recession, then a run through on Philip Greens lifetime achievements, followed by a run through of Stuart Roses's lifetime achievements, some barely comprehensible gobbledygook on pensions, followed by some stuff we already know about the 'cash for honours' scandal surrounding Lord Levy, followed by a quick run through of Allan Leighton's lifetime achievements, followed by a conclusion.
Oh and there is some stuff in there somewhere about how the economic crisis developed again half of which we already know, the other half of which is more gobbledygook and also how hedge funds have little in the way of a moral conscience which we already know. Not an enlightening book then. This accompanied with the fact that the title is a complete misnomer, means that I know where to turn the next time toilet paper is in short supply. Nov 13, Jim rated it liked it Shelves: business. Philip Green maybe?
In the first few chapters you'd think so. Peston is clearly a bit besotted with some of the UK captains of industry and dissects their profiles through interviews and analysis. But again, the book lacks vim. Green is undoubtedly colourful, but the book drones on about him in a way that isn't.
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I warmed a bit more to Peston when he started having a right Philip Green maybe? I warmed a bit more to Peston when he started having a right go at the super-wealthy in a less personalised way, dissecting the hedge funds and government assertion that it is good for them and Britain to be making loads and loads and loads of money.
That idea is plainly "For the birds", and he points out why. Next he has a look at Alan Leighton. Does he run Britain? I puzzled over the point of this chapter. Was it in because Peston likes him? By the end of the book, however, I had felt I'd learned something and had at least read something with attitudes and opinions, even if none of them were particularly startling.
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Sep 21, Nick Turner rated it did not like it Shelves: great-man-history , advocacy , name-dropping , apologist , now. Hagiographic account of the rise of contemporary British capitalists.
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The author is a financial journalist who can't avoid the appearance of being captured by the "glamour" of big business and the super-wealthy nouveau riches in charge of hedge funds and private equity investment. The book provides a serviceable explanation of the debt crisis in U.
Aug 25, Lucy J Jeynes rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , read-in Well, now I understand more about the whole hedge fund and private equity thing. And what Philip Green actually does. And where my bloody pension has gone. I like to imagine that the Thinking Woman's Crumpet is reading this to me himself. However I was a few cocktails down, when I wrote that, truth be told.
Nov 07, Bill Taylor rated it really liked it. Who Runs Britain — Robert Peston 10 years on from when Peston wrote his book, what if anything has changed and what was Peston's conclusion on who runs Britain? I was pleasantly surprised by Peston's book which is a combination of economic data and business anecdotes from well known entrepreneurs operating in the UK. It turned out to be quite an interesting read.
I was also surprised to learn that Peston had humble beginnings and had a hankering for fairness and equality. He exposes the big Who Runs Britain — Robert Peston 10 years on from when Peston wrote his book, what if anything has changed and what was Peston's conclusion on who runs Britain? He exposes the big money players operating from hedge funds, private equity firms, and investment banks and shows how companies are bought and sold whilst the buyers make enormous profits and show little regard for the stakeholders in the companies they deal in. He also exposes how little tax they pay relative to the amount they earn by hiding money and also using low rates of CGT.
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Ironic how things have turned out for Green with respect to the BHS pension fund. I wonder how Peston feels now? Anyway, what was Peston's conclusion? Well the billionaire capitalist class may not be running the country but it looks like Peston believes the country is being run for them. With low rates of tax these super rich entrepreneurs are getting massively richer whilst the rest of us have stagnating incomes. They threaten to leave the UK if business conditions change unfavourably and are largely stateless living in expensive mansions wherever they fancy.
With the rise of the Labour Party under Corbyn, is the neo-liberal era coming to an end? Well, respect to Peston, the last 2 paragraphs of the his book says it all Public services would be creaking for lack of resources, as the burden of tax fell on a dwindling number of private-sector employees whose skills weren't quite rare enough or valuable enough to take them into the top league of globally mobile earners. And year after year, the real disposable income of the majority would be squeezed ever so slightly, because that would be the only way that they could keep their jobs in the climate of intense international competition endured by their respective employers.
Meanwhile, the plutocrats who own these businesses would shuttle from London to Monaco to Moscow to Mumbai to Shanghai to Rio and back again, refusing to pay the subscription price to belong in any meaningful sense to any nation or community, except the global community of the super-wealthy. In that world, elected politicians would seem less and less relevant to the daily lives of the majority.
The potentates would be the stateless plutocrats. These are the conditions in which millions of citizens could ultimately feel dispossessed, alienated, powerless — especially if there were a global recession. The fracturing of our society is no less dangerous simply because it is occurring at a time of prosperity. We ignore the seemingly unstoppable rise of the super-rich at our peril.
Dec 27, Tim Pendry rated it it was ok Shelves: public-policy , business , economics. This is a disappointing book, largely because it falls into a peculiar genre - that of the journalistic pot-boiler from a celebrity journalist who has been given carte blanche by a publisher, while the sun of public notice shines upon him, to rehash 'stories what I wrote'. The disappointment is particularly intense because Peston was the journalist who broke the Northern Rock story. He was the boy who cried out 'but the Emperor has no clothes'. The Government and the City have been trying to cobb This is a disappointing book, largely because it falls into a peculiar genre - that of the journalistic pot-boiler from a celebrity journalist who has been given carte blanche by a publisher, while the sun of public notice shines upon him, to rehash 'stories what I wrote'.
The Government and the City have been trying to cobble together some robes for finance capitalism ever since. I always thought that he was a rather unwitting hero. This book shows just how much. His writing since the Northern Rock imbroglio, on his BBC Blog, has been informative but it has increasingly shown the extent to which PR Departments and spinners have been determined to tie down this perhaps naive loose cannon whose words almost broke the Bank.
The book is merely a demonstration that the author is a man of his time - a believer in an ideal version of the 'middle way' and still sentimental towards the sharks who built empires on debt, a man who suddenly found himself at the centre of the bubble-pricking that wiser heads knew was coming but left him surprised and shocked.
The best bit of the book is the first Chapter where his confused but fairly typical middle class analysis lies. It is an analysis you will hear as a standard from those in Middle England who like Thatcher's reforms but who thought they went too far in terms of social cohesion, who rather liked the social democrat impulse behind Blairism, who thought debt-fuelled and loud-mouthed near-hysterical one-dimensional services sector bosses represented 'leadership' and who thought growth could be sustained forever.
These are people who want a 'nice' capitalism and who will accept a bit of green puffery and corporate social responsibility to ensure that they never have to see how the sausages are made. If he is shocked that it was not so, there are times when he sees why - only to draw back from the brink because it raises too many questions about a world that he was part of as a commentator for the past decade. There is an excuse for any journalist that he only reports the news and does not make it, but it really is remarkable how few financial and business journalists investigated very deeply what was happening under their noises.
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