For as long as most people can remember, UK municipal finance has been safe and boring. In the wild days of the 1980s, Hammersmith & Fulham council almost went bust speculating in derivatives, and was saved by a landmark House of Lords ruling. Since then, UK council borrowing has been tightly constrained by … Continued
by Zia Haider Rahman
What kind of fiction do they read at Goldman Sachs? A trader I know there recently recommended In the Light of What We Know, Zia Haider Rahman’s debut novel. I could see why he was intrigued when I picked the book up. Its two main characters study mathematics and physics … Continued
by Timothy F Geithner
(Random House 2014)
If you had perfect foresight and were going to pick the best regulator or policymaker capable of dealing with the global financial crisis and its aftermath, whom would you choose? You’d probably want someone with a track record of dealing directly with crises, perhaps in emerging markets, and … Continued
Outside of financial crises, mergers and acquisitions are the closest the stock market comes to high drama. Companies in play engage with investors and the public using a well-rehearsed script: Acquirers woo target shareholders while target companies publicise the value of independence. The biggest, most dramatic takeovers can involve antitrust regulators and politicians as well.
Junk bond funds are seeing record outflows. This has been described as a ‘six-sigma event’, in other words, six standard deviations away from the mean weekly flow, something that if normally distributed should only be expected once in millions of years.
By definition that’s unusual, but in the context of broader investment in … Continued
A bank whose bailout costs £45 billion deserves to have more than one book written about it. In September 2013 we had Iain Martin’s Making It Happen (see my review here), and now fellow Scottish journalist Ian Fraser has published Shredded.
Fraser’s 500-page book piles on the detail as we meet … Continued
On the fourth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Act, the big US banks are still black boxes in terms of their trading activity. However regulators are now getting a bit more information. Over the last month, the big banks have started providing them with so-called reporting metrics under the Volcker Rule, so that the … Continued
Oxford University Press, 175pp
If one were to write a creation myth for modern finance, the wave of mathematicians and physicists who left academia for Wall Street from the mid-1980s onwards would be at the heart of it. As Stephen Blyth recounts in the preface to his book, these quant pioneers knew virtually … Continued
The In/Out Question: Why Britain should stay in the EU and fight to make it better by Hugo Dixon (Kindle Single, 130pp)
European Spring: Why our Economies and Politics are in a Mess and How to Put Them Right by Philippe Legrain (Amazon print-on-demand, 448pp)
As the May elections to its parliament showed, … Continued
Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
WW Norton, 2014
Rapid technological change has become such a constant in our lives that it’s easy to forget what the world was like before computers, the Internet and social media apps. Increasingly, these innovations are reinventing the economy and transforming corporations and the lives of individuals. Are these changes … Continued