Posts tagged ‘Ferdinand Mount’

May 9, 2012

The New Few: warning from a Tory radical

The New Few, or A Very British Oligarchy: Power and Inequality in Britain Now 
By Ferdinand Mount (Simon & Schuster 305pp £18.99)

From the ES review:

The New Few then races through some corrosive examples. The still-shocking £9bn HSBC takeover of sub-prime vultures Household, culminating in £53bn set-aside to sweep up this folly; the “festering morass of bad debts” that was HBOS; vainglorious Fred the Shred, and many more. The central concern is the arbitrary power of the CEO and decline of the active shareholder, interlocked with the rise of the fund manager with their top-slice off every transaction: a “croupier’s take”. In short, there was systemic collusion between the two dominant groups. “One set of oligarchs- the fund managers – approve the size of salaries, bonuses and pension pots for another set of oligarchs – the CEOs, board members and senior managers”.

Why so little appetite to confront these excesses? Mount identifies three basic reasons- or excuses, or illusions – that sustain the system. “The market is always right”; “big is beautiful”, and “complexity equals progress”: they echo the dominance of neo-liberalism, of a system too big to fail, due to the sheer complexity of financial products with no appreciation of moral hazard. A brief history of oligarchy follows, and the forces that shape it: war, technology, bureaucracy, forms of ideology – the links between money and power.

From Nick Cohen’s review:

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