An indictment of global finance, exploring how the banking sector grew from a supporter of business to the biggest business in the world, and showing how societies might fight against financial hegemony.
...[an] excoriating analysis of the City of London’s effect on our economy ... Coming seven years after [Shaxson's] groundbreaking Treasure Islands, which told the story of Britain’s tax havens, this new book broadens his assault on the foundations of the modern globalised financial system ... The Finance Curseis a radical, urgent and important manifesto for improving our country, starting from where Britain actually is – a wide-open, highly vulnerable economy utterly transformed by our finance industry – rather than where our major parties would like it to be, whether they’re harking back to the 1950s or to the 1890s. This argument should not really be party political, but it challenges the decades-long thrust of British politics, and winning it will require a hard fight. If we don’t want to go the way of the USSR, however, it’s a fight we need to have.
Nicholas Shaxson’s The Finance Curse may seem radical — and indeed some elements do have more than a whiff of the far left — but in fact his arguments are at base an expression of, and a plea for, moderation ... The thesis at the heart of this volume is simple, artfully presented, easily digested. It is not a jeremiad against capitalism or commerce. It is an argument for restraint. It preaches what the top business schools preach but that many of their students defy: that finance can been a force for good, not greed ... t is a helpful, useful argument. But the great virtue of this book isn’t in the conclusion so much as it is in the elucidation of it, for this is an anecdote-filled, approachable history of (big) business. It is an engaging read ... By tracing the effect of tax havens, offshore banking, and what he calls stateless hot money, Shaxson sets out a conspiracy, mostly of silence, that enriches the rich and impoverishes the poor, through the unregulated machinations of financial institutions whose creepy credo he sets out crisply: 'You can trust us not to steal your money, but if you want to steal someone else’s money then you can also trust us to turn a blind eye.' Maybe the best line of the year on an economic topic.
... especially in this uncertain, insecure climate, the thesis is important and worth repeating ... Correlation is one thing, and causation another. Shaxson doesn’t prove the latter. But he makes some provocative arguments ... Shaxson also makes one of those wonderful points that is so insightful, it seems obvious in retrospect ... Shaxson also is obsessed with offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. His obsession might be to the detriment of this particular book ... tossing in unsavory characters who may or may not be figments of his imagination, along with random and unprovable references to possible criminality, only muddies the issue ... Shaxson has some simple, lovely lines...But for the most part, he prefers to bounce quickly from one scandal to another and to pile on descriptors ... It’s exhausting. More important, it loses the reader who is looking for clear analysis, rather than fevered rhetoric, the reader who wants to be shown how it is, rather than told how it is. And so, while Shaxson’s book grapples with one of the most critical economic issues of our day, he ultimately may not convince anyone who doesn’t already agree.