FewfinancialwritershavebeenmorecloselyfollowedduringthiscrisisthantheBritishPressAwardsJournalistoftheYear2009,GillianTett。

AsTheSpectatornotes,heranalyticalandpenetratingarticlesfortheFThavebeencompulsoryreadinginCitycirclesforyears。

Tettisaformeranthropologistandso,asNicholasShakespearenotesinTheDailyTelegraph,shelooksatfinanciersasifatastrangeTajikistantribe。

Here,thattribeisasmallteamatinvestmentbankJPMorganwhoharnessedcomputerstocreateafiendishlycomplexmeansofshiftingriskfrombankstoinvestorsviaanewbreedoffinancialinstrument,thecreditderivative。

Oncethesecontracts,whichletbanksbetonwhetheraloanorbondmightdefault,infectedthesubprimemortgagemarket,mayhemwasallbutguaranteedwithill-equippedregulatorscaughtbehindthecurveateverystage。

Tettsaysonlysevenpeopleweretaskedwithmonitoring$4trninWallStreetassets。

Giventhesubject,itsnotforabsolutebeginnerswithitsjargonandstupefyingnumbers,saysDominicLawsoninTheTimes。

Butthehumanaspectmorethancompensates:usingrawprivatecommunicationsbetweenplayersatJPMorgancreatespathosaswellaspace。

Tettoffersnosolutions,butheraccountofthewidescalefailuretocontrolthederivativesmarketisdevastating。

LordsofFinancebyLiaquatAhamed

TantorMedia,£17。

49

Youllshudderwithrecognitionwhenyoureadthis,saysJoeNocerainTheNewYorkTimes。

ItdescribestheWestafterWorldWarOne;atimeofbubblesfollowedbybustsandofacascadingseriesofeventsthatledtotheGreatDepression。

TheLordsarethecentralbankersofthatera:BenjaminStrongoftheFederalReserve;MontaguNormanoftheBankofEngland;EmileMoreauoftheBanquedeFrance;andReichsbanksHjalmarSchacht。

Allwerebrilliant,yetmademistakeaftermistake。

Theirbiggest,saysTheEconomist,wasbeingunitedbyabeliefthattheyknewbest。

MaintainingthegoldstandardbecamedogmatothepointwhereUSinterestrateswerekeptdeliberatelylowsoBritaincouldborrowtostayonthegoldstandard。

Theresultingcredit-fuelledbubbleonWallStreetledtothe1929crash。

AsNormanlaterconcededin1948,weachievedabsolutelynothing。

Withtheirfocusoninflationtargeting,todayscentralbankerscouldmakesimilarmistakes,saysTheEconomist。

TheStormbyVinceCable

AtlanticBooks,£14。

99

Onepoliticiansawthefinancialstormcoming。

In2003,thethen-chancellor,GordonBrown,shotdownVinceCable,theLibDemTreasuryspokes-man,forsuggestingUKprosperityrestedtooheavilyonrisinghouseprices。

Cable,aformerShelleconomist,wasright。

HereCablearguesthatBritainshousinganddebtbubbleshavebeenlargerthanelsewhereandourpastprofligacymeansourgovernmenthaslittleroomtohelpbycuttingtaxesorraisingspending。

Noteveryonewillbuyhissolutions,suchassplittinghighlyregulatedretailactivitiesandriskierinvestmentbanking。

Yetthisisatimelyanalysisofwhatwentwrong,saysTimHarfordinManagementToday。

HouseofCardsbyWilliamDCohan

Allen?

Lane,£25

This468-pageblowbyblowaccountofthetendaysthatleadtotheimplosionofBearStearnsisasgrippingasanovel,saysTheGuardiansRuthSutherland。

Cohanhastheraregiftofunderstandingthecomplexgoings-onsurroundingthefallofthebank,whilebeingabletomakethemcomprehensible,saysTheNewYorkTimes。

HecapturesthecolourfulandflawedcharacterswhoranBear。

One,formerCEOAlanSchwarz,sumsupwhatwentwronginglobalbanking:Weallfuckedup。

Government。

Ratingsagencies。

WallStreet。

CommercialBanks。

Regulators。

Investors。

Everybody。

Anannoyinglyhardtoputdownbook,saysBusinessWeek。

FalseEconomybyAlanBeattie

RiverheadBooks,$26。

95,(publishedintheUKinJune)

Beattie,saysTheEconomist,usesextraordinarystoriesofeconomictriumphanddisastertodistilllessonsfromhistorytoshowwhatmanyreadersmayalreadysuspect:mosteconomicsuccessesandfailurestakeusbysurprise。

Thebookislacedwithcasestudies(suchaswhyPeru,notCalifornia,dominatestheUSasparagusmarket),butisshortonanswers,makingitafascinating,yetmaddeningread,saystheFT。

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