Need to read: Bad Banks

Learn about today's banking world with this clear and candid new book

Bad Banks: Greed, Incompetence and the Next Global Crisis

Alex Brummer

Random House, 2014

Bad Banks, from the Daily Mail's City editor Alex Brummer, is a detailed yet neat summary of the banking scandals of the past few years and a thoughtful and candid assessment of where the industry stands today.

What does it cover?

The book starts with the 2013 "Crystal methodist" Co-op scandal as an appetite-whetter and then moves back in time to the origins of the financial crisis, making the interesting argument that its origins can be traced back to the 11 September terrorist attacks.

It then moves through the crisis and the differing responses to it in the UK, Europe and America - the strength of US regulators when compared to their European counterparts is an ongoing theme throughout the book.

Next it tackles the further embarrassing episodes for investment banks that came in the wake of the financial crisis: Libor, interest rate rigging, and money laundering. These are followed by analyses of the high street banking scandals around PPI and interest rate swap mis-selling.

Finally, the book looks to the future with "five key questions" about the banking industry today, tackling salaries, reform, the role of shareholders, regulation, and the likelihood of further scandals.

What can you learn from it?

With the benefit of a few years' of distance, now is a great time to reflect on the financial crisis. And because its effects, and those of subsequent issues in the banking industry, are still being felt, a clear understanding of the key events and figures is essential for anyone wanting to work in or around the industry.

Reading the book cover to cover gives you a great sense of the scale and scope of some of the issues and how they fit together. But the well thought-out chapter structure and good index means it would also be a great book to have on your shelf to dip into when you need a good summary of a particular topic.

Clarity doesn't come at the expense of interesting detail, however. Alongside accounts of events like Barclays' fall from grace or the UK response to the financial crisis, Brummer also drops in plenty of interesting titbits about some of the leading players, from Fred Goodwin's favourite kind of filing cabinets to Mark Carney's speech mannerisms.

Top takeaway

The "five key questions" in the final chapter on "Banking Conundrums" - perfect for jumpstarting the formation of your own educated opinions on the banking industry for application forms, interviews, and networking events.

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