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‘Whoops! Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay’ is a must read

December 13, 2010

Everyone knows that credit is crunching. But do we really understand why?

It is, of course, because stupidity is painless but Lanchester gives us an insight into the very nature of the stupidity. It’s a book that will help you see past Coalition hyperbole about public sector over-spending. It will keep you angry at an anglo-saxon (which Lanchester uses to mean American and English) banking system that operated unfairly and without cricitism. Unregulated and even supported by governments, bankers, lenders, brokers and dealers ran riot with CDOs, CDS, Assets, Liabilities, Sub-primes, bonds and so on.

If you want to know what any of these things are, you have to read Lanchesters witty, clear, but most of all, correct synoposis’ of them all.  This book is like ‘Stupid White Men’ without the unqualified statements and socialist leaning generic swipes at the right.  It’s a clear description of what went wrong and a deconstruction of events from a economic perspective – not just a moral perspective complaining about how bankers didn’t care about poor people.

Whoops! is the best piece of non-fiction I have read this year. It does everything I want a piece of non-fiction to do: informs me about complicated things in a langugage I understand, it is well reserached, full of facts and it arms me with a basic knowledge that inspires me to find out more (Milton Friedman and Phillip Coggan can credit Lanchester for their extra sales today).

Will Self describes it as ‘devestatingly funny’. Slightly overstated, it is a book about money after all. But it’s a great and much needed reality check on the world’s finances today.

One thing which I will no doubt cover in another post but have to mention here: there is no mention of any African nation, or any African in the book. The continent has been absent from all commentary and analysis of the current crisis. The GDP of the Earth was $36 trililion in 200. In 2006, it increased to $70 trillion. Perhaps one for Lanchester to consider in the next edition. Or didn’t Africa have a piece of that $70 trillion pie?

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