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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