The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism: The Rise and Fall of London's Investment Banks (Penguin business)

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9780140286687: The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism: The Rise and Fall of London's Investment Banks (Penguin business)

This work will examines the decline of the British merchant bank during the 1980's and 90's. The story of Barings is commonly told, but Barings was just one of a significant number of British merchant banks which collapsed, were sold, or simply gave up. Only four now remain, and all of these survivors are independent of outside institutional shareholders. Phillip Augar takes us through the boom of the Thatcher years, the crash of 1987, the "Big Bang" and the impact of technology, and the aggressive invasion of the American banks. He looks at why the British banks failed to keep pace with these changes like their American counterparts, and what this says about the way they were run, and the way that companies in general are run. He also examines the issue of ownership and shareholding, which appear pertinent given that the four surviving British merchant banks are independent.

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Philip Augar arrived in the City of London a callow graduate in the late 1970s, stunned by a world where jobs were casually offered over long and boozy lunches, where your school tie was more important than anything you knew about investment. A City whose "institutions and values reflected the pillars of conservative England: the public school, the gentleman's club and the country house". Twenty years later, having held key positions in London banks, and enjoying a salary of more than £1m a year, Augar was still troubled. He reveals an unreal world, where investment banks lost money for decades while amateurish bosses, raised in the cloistered and deferential realms of public school and National Service ran multi-million pound operations on a nod, wink and plenty of alcohol.

Centuries of tradition were coming to an end. With Big Bang in 1986 the banks pursued a lunatic course that led to meltdown just years later. Freed from regulatory limits and allowed to mix brokerage and merchant banking, as well as enter the global market, the Londoners' lack of control was their undoing. Salaries went crazy and, by the millennium, the English merchant banks that dominated the Stock Exchange were gone--bought, faded or, in the case of Barings, spectacularly imploded.

The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism is a sad tale of British arrogance and complacency to rank with anything our motor industry can throw up. It's also a page-turning, stranger-than-fiction read, packed with larger than life characters, scandal, corruption and incompetence. Go to City boardrooms today--no longer in the Square Mile, but perched on the upper floors of Canary Wharf, and the trappings are still there. Augar relates with amusement a recent trip to Docklands, where an inventory of the boardroom reveals "two framed prints of English hunting scenes, one gilt-framed mirror, one antique side table, Regency striped curtains with drape ties". All fake of course. Behind the Regency curtains lie the walls of a 1990s office block, and behind the old school tie sits a foreign owner. --John Rennie


"The book is well founded on direct experience, consultancy and research, and it's also a good read." -- Gerald Haigh, Times Education Supplment, 12 July 2002

"This pleasing book, itself earthed in a recognisable reality, is an important wake-up call." -- Charles Handy, Management Today, August 2002

"a treasury of first-hand witness statements and personal reminiscence." -- Marcus Scriven, Evening Standard, 12 August 2002

"welcome and exciting." -- Simon Caulkin, The Observer, June 2002

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Augar, Philip
Published by Penguin Global (2005)
ISBN 10: 0140286683 ISBN 13: 9780140286687
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1

Book Description Penguin Global, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 1. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140286683

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