Fool’s Gold by Gillian Tett

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This is the latest book I finished.  It recounts the story of how the global banking crisis occurred.  I can’t claim to have any great business mind or background, yet this book was fascinating.  Gillian Tett, who writes for the Financial Times, tells the story from its beginnings in a weekend retreat, right up until the global crash.

Gillian’s style of journalistic narrative helped me understand and grasp the reasons why the crisis occurred.  I have always been interested in how the whole 2008 meltdown happened, but have been reluctant to read other books as my knowledge of the financial world is minimal to say the least!  This is why I recommend Fool’s Gold to anyone with similar fears.  It relates the events in a simple and flowing manner, and when the language does get technical, Gillian provides a glossary to help understand even the most complex parts.

The story itself is engrossing, every page left me scratching my head at either the vast sums of money involved, or how people allowed themselves to go so far.  It helped reveal how bankers and regulators let the system spiral out of control and the few that resisted. In many ways it shows the dangers of letting a group establish a groupthink, in this case, credit derivative sections of banks were largely left to their own devices because few outside people understood the logistics of their workings.  But in other ways and perhaps more frighteningly it shows how there are serious fundamental flaws in the banking system as a whole.

The book frightens the reader with the vast sums of money and how relaxed many are with handling it, but more than that it enlightens the reader into what many people viewed as a murky and secluded corner of banking and finance.  For this I would strongly recommend this book to readers looking for an introduction into how the meltdown occurred.

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Leinster 24 – Ulster 11

Leinster v Ulster - Guinness PRO12 Round 12

I watched this game in the RDS on Saturday afternoon, a glorious afternoon for running rugby.  The first half was anything but, however.  It was a tense arm-wrestle where the boots of Madigan and Pienaar battled it out.  Pienaar was unlucky with one kick (which hit the bar) and Leinster went into the break with a slim lead at 9-6.  However throughout the first half it looked like Ulster were the more likely of the two sides to breach the try line.

Just before halftime, Ulster’s Dan Tuohy was sinbinned (harshly in my opinion), and Leinster kicked off in this period.  Madigan scored an opportunist try when he quick tapped a penalty 5 metres out and burrowed his way over the Ulster line.  However with a lapse of concentration defending a scrum, Ulster scored a try of their own almost immediately, through their prop.  Pienaar missed the conversion.  Then for the remaining period of the match, Leinster were in the ascendency, and kept battling away at the Ulster defence.  Man of the match Conan finished his excellent display with a try right at the end to cap off a successful afternoon for Leinster and a return to the top 4 of the table.

The second half of the game was one of the more complete performances of Leinster so far this season, and they showed what they can do when they retain possession and don’t kick it away, which they have been guilty of all season.  The back row which for most of the game was second string was exceptional, and in the back line, special praise must go to Madigan and Fitzgerald.  The main concern following the game was the Heaslip injury.  I hope he has a speedy recovery as he is badly needed for the remainder of the Heineken Cup pool games.