Too Big To Fail and A Momentous 1989

Posted in Neem Tree Blog on October 6, 2019

We are part way through another amazing @annecater #randomthingstour, this time for The Umbrella Men by Keith Carter. Here are some of the reviews we’ve received so far:

Paul Burke @Paulodaburka @NBmagazineUK writes, ‘Carter has written an involving and provocative novel that it’s easy to take to. Humorous, acerbic and keenly observed, the financial crisis is properly skewered.’ From @fidacatriona we have, ‘refreshing’ and ‘incredibly ironic’. And @aileenmck writes, ‘darkly humorous and with a pinch of irony’ and ‘thought provoking and highly contemporary’. High praise indeed. We published the paperback on October 3rd.

We would really recommend everyone read the book, not just because it’s fun, engaging, witty and informative and not just because we published it. We really do think we all need to be better informed about the 2008 financial crisis and The Umbrella Men allows us to do this while being entertained. As taxpayers, the ramifications of this global, seismic event are still with us, and will be with us for many more years to come.

48 hours after the FTSE 100 recorded its largest single-day points fall since 1987, on October 8, 2008, the UK government spent billions of pounds to stabilise the stock market. It spent £45billion buying 68% of Royal Bank of Scotland. The government still owns around 62% of the bank and has made a £2billion pound loss on a partial sale of its stake. The Treasury plans to sell the entire public stake by 2023-2024, and is projected to lose about £28.5bn in the process, according to the Treasury’s independent forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility. In a recent press article, Keith writes, ‘It has been estimated that the Financial Crisis – which should be called the Bankers’ Crisis – of 2007-2009, cost taxpayers globally an additional $1 trillion in tax. That’s $1,000,000,000,000 – a THOUSAND BILLION dollars. You can build quite a few hospitals, homeless shelters and schools with that… Add to that the additional debt and indirect costs – and the number can be multiplied.’

No banker has gone to jail for this crisis, yet so many small businesses went bust and so many people lost their homes. I leave you with a link to this Forbes article from the summer titled, ‘ Highly Leveraged Zombie Companies Threaten the Global Economy‘. We are not out of the woods yet and may be entering stormy waters again.

We are gearing up for the November 7th launch of the UK paperback edition of Distant Signs. The book will also be available worldwide on that date. 9 November 1989 will mark 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In these times when walls are being built and talk of erecting borders and polarization of society and discourse normalized, it is extremely important to celebrate this time in history when a wall was brought down by ordinary people intent on doing the right thing, despite the lingering economic divides in the united Germany. Here are some modern border walls that are worth contemplating: between North and South Korea, between Spain and Morocco in the towns of Ceuta and Melilla, between Egypt and the Gaza strip, between Israel and the West Bank, in Cyprus, through the divided capital of Nicosia, between India and Pakistan, the ‘peace walls’ mainly in Belfast, but also in other parts of Northern Ireland, between Malaysia and Thailand and between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Here are two interesting articles on the rise in modern border walls: 7 to 77 Border Walls and 16 Significant Walls .

1989 was a momentous year in many other respects. History Central provides this exhilarating and sobering list:

Till next week.