Maoist management classes increasingly popular. Trainees from Beijing Huashang Institute of Management take a group picture at Jinggangshan cemetery during a study tour. Provided to China Dailyhttp://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2010-07/20/content_11022154.htm
A Simply Stunning Tour de Force in the 'A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing' Genre
Apologies for a longer than usual review, but never have we been sent a book quite as mad as this before!
Eventually the historians will get to work interpreting the financial crash of the last two years (the real historians that is, not the Niall Ferguson instant historian-pundit-bloviators). It is likely that many of them will come to the startling conclusion that bankers can be idiots, who are allowed to operate way above their intelligence level with somebody else's money. This has, of course, been the case in past financial crashes. But perhaps never has a senior banker actually written a self-confession that forms an admittance of weak intellect and appears to blithely accept no responsibility for anything until Stephen Green of HSBC was handed a publishing contract.
For the record, Green was CEO of HSBC between 2003-2006, and is now Chairman. He is not an innocent bystander of the last few years, but one of the architects. So the absurdity of his newly published book is all the more shocking. Green's Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an UncertainWorld is quite simply the most bonkers book to appear for quite some time, and will (we believe) become the book that defines the true level of stupidity and vaingloriousness of the senior bankers who created a system that could crash so severely (unless Fred Goodwin writes a book about charity and thinking of others first). Any judge faced with Green in the dock and handed this book as evidence would call in the men with the white coats.
What Green has served up consists of a most bizarre and rambling opening 100 pages of random thoughts on world history and economics of the sort weak A Level candidates hand in. He's clearly read a few books - the problem is he has clearly ONLY read a few books. This section mostly consists of retelling some historical anecdotes most people know and précising the populist sort of Wal-Mart non-fiction as typified by Thomas Friedman. Thrown in are some weak observations on the rise of the city, a misinterpretation of Marx's concept of alienation, some more A Level-type thoughts on existentialism, and on, and on. Then we get to his analysis of the crisis... and here Green comes over as totally bonkers, rather than just marginally read. A few quotes:'There were warning signs, and the first breezes of the oncoming hurricane were detectable as early as 2005' - remember Green was CEO of HSBC at this point! He also claims to have been aware in 2005 that 'America was living beyond its means', 'world markets were looking extremely stretched' and that he had a 'growing sense that at some point the music would stop.' And on, and on like this. Sorry to ask the obvious but - WHEN EXACTLY DID GREEN THINK HE MIGHT LIKE TO SHARE THESE THOUGHTS OF IMPENDING ECONOMIC COLLAPSE WITH US MERE MORTALS?
It gets madder too. While CEO of one of the world's biggest banks, Green then offers some reasons why the system collapsed - banker hubris? Lack of regulation? Casino capitalism? Oh no, apparently poor bankers were just very tired! 'when the history books are written about this period, I believe they will miss an important dimension if they do not focus on the pervasive stress and the sheer tiredness of those involved - whether policymakers, regulators or bankers.' Damn! If only he'd told us he was tired early, the IMF could have given every banker a nice pillow, a few days off and a Radox bath and we could have avoided a recession!
In the end, of course, Green doesn't blame himself, doesn't blame his friends, (interestingly) never really comments on China (except glib notes about urbanisation, etc. because HSBC wants to do business there) and decides that all this mess must be due to 'some, possibly criminal, individuals' who remain nameless but very hubristic and stand in the tradition of, 'a long line down to the present day of individuals who have manipulated the markets, beguiled society, defrauded investors - and all in a desperate search for recognition, for admiration, for acceptance.'
Dare we suggest individuals like Stephen Green? And dare we suggest that a 'desperate search for recognition, for admiration, for acceptance' could lead one to write a book attempting to exonerate themselves from any blame for the recession?
We do and we are. Read the 200 pages of mad, cobbled together incoherent rambling that Green has put together as a book, and the only conclusion you can come to is that HSBC, like so many other major banks, has been run by a muppet for many years already!!
Truly amazing... and not a little terrifying - he's still out there planning a banking strategy for China with his York Notes somewhere!!
Global financial recession?
Nothing to do with me Guv'ner.
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Hurun interviewed 383 mainland Chinese, each with at least 10 million ($1.46 million) and this is the result. China has 825,000 of these high- net-worth individuals and they average 39 years of age. http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/jan2010/bw20100114_628453.htm
In his long and didactic epilogue, which was excluded from Howard Goldblatt’s Penguin translation, Lü Jiamin argues that a unique steppe-sown dialectic has propelled Chinese civilization forward over the last 5000 years, with the steppe’s nomadic races (Jurchens, Mongols, Manchus, etc.) providing the docile, insular, and sheep-like Han race with regular, re-invigorating “blood infusions” (输血) from the dynamic, martial, and democratic wolf spirit.
In a 2009 international computer competition--sponsored by the super-secret U.S. National Security Agency (for obvious reasons)--China fielded the most finalists (20), well ahead of second-place Russia (10) and far ahead of America (2). The worldwide winner of the algorithm-coding contest was an 18-year-old Chinese student.