Dermot Smyth

Forecast

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Mark Buchanan's book, Forecast, is a demolition of the core assumptions of economic theory.

Buchanan draws on studies carried out by physicists and other scientists to demonstrate that markets are inherently chaotic -- rather like the weather, hence the meteorology in the subtitle, "What Physics, Meteorology and the Natural Sciences can Teach us about Economics".

The difference is that weather models allow a degree of accurate forecasting. Not so for economics. This comprises many interacting markets, driven by thousands of speculators gambling trillions of pounds.

Whoops!

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

John Lanchester, Penguin, £20

Lanchester's exposé of the shenanigans inside the financial world is witty, scathing and sarcastic. It is thoroughly researched and contains clear explanations of all the significant events of 2007 and 2008. It includes loads of detail on the bank-quake of 2008 when Lehman Brothers went over the precipice, and how the banks' (relative) stability was restored only by the massive shifting of private debt to public debt.

Ban the banks

Issue section: 
Author: 

Socialists should welcome Barack Obama's initiative to ban banks from investing primary deposits in hedge funds, private equity or the casino of investment banking.

But the question is whether it could ever work. Even Will Hutton and his Work Foundation have gone very quiet on the idea of separate "good" banks, and for very good reason. Such an attempt to resurrect the US Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 will either be insignificantly small-scale, easy to circumvent or will trigger the very collapse it is intended to avoid.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Dermot Smyth