Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Traders, Guns and Money, by Satyajit Das

I only made it two thirds the way through this book, but thought I would jot down a few notes about it anyway. It’s rare for me not to get through to the end of a book, but the tone of Traders, Guns and Money became so rancid, and the arcane financial formulas so tricky to follow (I always failed maths at school), that I felt exhausted and just couldn’t go on reading.

I’ve always enjoyed Satyajit Das’s public appearances and commentary on the global financial crisis. He is witty and smart. And this book is often very amusing and entertaining. It’s also invaluable as a peek inside the real world of high finance, with all the gloss removed and the real characters, flaws and all, exposed. Some of it will indeed make your jaw drop.

Yet you wonder, with Das being so breathtakingly cynical about it, how he worked in the area for so long. Then again, maybe not, as I myself have worked in the very lower rungs of finance myself for close to ten years. Maybe he was just trapped. (Interestingly, the book blurb says he is ‘passionate about wildlife’ and has written a book on the subject. I should also note he thinks climate change should be tackled as a matter of high priority.)

If you’re interested in the complicated and shadowy world of finance, then this book your will find a roller coaster of a ride.

One last note: he's been writing a four part series in the fairfax media, which you should read.

End of the age of plentiful debt

Recipe for world recovery may be a fizzer

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