REVIEW

Book Review: Complicit by Mark Gilbert

February 22, 2010
Blokesablogin

Mark Gilbert, the Bureau chief for Bloomberg UK writes this lucid account of how the latest economic mess we saw unravelled in the past few years happened. Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made The Credit Crisis Unstoppable is worth a read.

The journalist shines through. The book breaks down the smokescreen of big finance into small bytes of information that can be digested by the average reader without a degree in finance. It is topical, and as the tentacles of fiscal mess continues to wrap around and squeeze more people and countries dry, it is a good idea to get educated as citizens.

When we consider the power we have as voters and investors, it behooves us to take the responsibility to understand how messes like these came to be and how indirectly we were responsible. It was not a single person's greed. Rather, as a society, we wanted more. We wanted our cruises, our cars. We wanted astronomical returns. We wanted larger homes with a smaller paycheck.

However, Gilbert does not point the finger at us, the electorate and the investors. Rather, he shows the ropes of corporate finance and banking systems. He explains the smoke and mirror schemes adopted by "reputable" financial institutions that encouraged "savvy investors" (that is us) to trust our nest eggs with "gold-rated stars". Soon, the gold turned to dross and even countries were left with pyrite in their vaults.

The old adage of not putting all our eggs in the same basket was thrown out with yesterday's trash. The monopolistic financial institutions created "new" baskets but they were all smaller sections of the one larger one. That was one aspect of the "plot".

This was furthered by raters who ensured that these baskets were woven so tight and lined with sufficient padding to ensure the safety of the eggs. The eggs did not crack, they crashed. They could not even be redeemed to make scrambled eggs.

Have we learned our lessons or will we continue to shirk our responsibilities as shareholders and voters? Or will we educate ourselves and have the wisdom to distinguish the chaff from the grain and protect our hard earned assets?

Do read this book and decide.

Blokes aka Meenakshi enjoys writing along with being a mom, a school teacher, a musician and an Art of Living teacher (of meditation and breathing)
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