qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

The Sage of Twickenham

Book Review: The Storm, by Vince Cable, and After the Storm, by Vince Cable
I picked up After the Storm in a work book sale before Christmas, and it seemed a good idea to re-read the first installment. That turned out to be a good judgement, as Cable makes frequent references to it in his later book.

At the time I wrote quite positively about The Storm, and for the most part that remains my view. Inevitably, some predictions turned out to be wrong (we didn't have quite the meltdown situation he considered possible), whilst Greece barely featured on his radar. Indeed, at the time he wrote that the Eurozone was faring better than the UK, generally because of its less over-extended banking and financial services sector.

It has to be said, Cable gives the impression of being a workaholic, given how quickly both books were turned out - the first in 2009, the second towards the end of 2015, although in his introduction he hints that a lot of After the Storm was written while he was in office, but publication at the time would have broken ministerial codes. It certainly isn't a book about the coalition, but from time to time he does refer to agreements or differences of opinion, both between the parties and government departments.

Again, there's more in the way of analysis than of recommendation. The UK's position is hampered by its dependence on the banking sector, and also on its utterly dysfunctional property market (these two factors often being somewhat linked). He holds a particularly low opinion on RBS, with more nuanced views on other banks, and would have favoured a more interventionist approach as the bank's largest shareholder. Nonetheless, while the US has fared better than may have been expected, there are dangers both in the Eurozone and in developing economies. China comes in for particular criticism, playing the West at its own game by managing exchange rates, and in turn creating a business model that is dependent on Western consumption. The last chapter focuses on recommendations - better vocational training to avoid unproductive university courses for those who won't benefit from them, better planning and housing capacity, a liberal but not unregulated approach to markets and migration, moderated austerity with appropriate investment, playing our role within Europe, and reform of the voting system.
Tags: books, economics, money, politics
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