Vince Cable's The Storm: read and write your reviews here!

by Stephen Tall on April 9, 2009

Last week saw the publication of Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable’s opus, The Storm: The World Economic Crisis and What It Means. (Amazon did eventually deliver my copy, you’ll be pleased to know).

On this page we’ll be collating the reviews published to date, and are inviting you to submit your own reviews – whether as articles for Lib Dem Voice, or briefly in the comments field below.

One plea: if you’re inspired to write something here, please do also leave it as a comment on Amazon – it’s more likely to reach non-Lib Dems there than here!

Here are the media reviews published to date:

The Economist:

VINCE CABLE is a phenomenon of our troubled times. By some measure, Mr Cable, the economics spokesman of the Liberal Democrats, the smallest of Britain’s big three political parties, is the most popular politician in Britain. In any putative government of national unity, he would be the default choice to be chancellor of the exchequer. What is all the more remarkable about Mr Cable’s improbable standing is that he is admired in almost equal measure by other politicians and a cynical public.

the little book that Mr Cable, a former chief economist with Shell, has written to explain the economic crisis and to offer his prescriptions for dealing with it will reach a wider and more receptive audience than most such tracts. It deserves to do so. As an account of what happened and why, it is both admirably clear of befuddling jargon and authoritative in its range and detail.

Financial Times:

This could easily have been an “I told you so” account, but Cable largely resists the temptation. Instead he offers a entertaining guide through the “Alice in Wonderland” financial world that evolved in the early years of the 21st century, and gives warning of the dangers that lie ahead if politicians draw the wrong conclusions. …

Mr Cable has a sharp turn of phrase, which he deploys to leaven the bleak economic narrative. Surveying the “ninja” (no income, no job or assets) loansthat the US banks offered to poor people – seen by some at the time as a means for increasing social mobility – Cable says these were borrowers the bankers would not have wanted in their golf clubs. “Philanthropy can be discounted,” he says. “Poor people have one great attraction. Because they are poor, and have a poor credit history, they can be charged relatively high interest rates.” …

His stark analysis of the causes of the economic crisis is not, however, mirrored in any startling remedy for future action. As a liberal, Cable holds a centrist position, which tends towards the need for a prudent reregulation of financial markets to counter the endemic risk of bubbles, panics and crashes.

He places himself between the “New Interventionists” – whose policies he fears could lead ultimately to state capitalism, economic nationalism and protectionism – and the “Old Liberals” who argue that markets can fail in more-regulated centres such as New York, just as they did in the more permissive City of London.

Cable makes some wonderful points. It’s just a shame the Liberal Democrats will always be seen as a third party, as it’s hard for many people to turn down the ex-Shell chief economist as a member of any ruling party. It makes you wonder why he’s not in charge of the party, more than anything else.
The thing that people ought to give Cable credit for is how he has the guts to be able to respond quickly and effortlessly to the crisis at hand, weighing up the ramifications of the current situation and presenting them in an easy-to-read and short account which is well explained and free from glaring mistakes. The solid mentions of Northern Rock as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have added to this contemporaneous account which truly should be handed to every MP and lord in the houses of parliament.

Management Today:

The Storm, then, is best judged not as polemic or manifesto but simply as a piece of analysis. The subject is the post-Lehmans world economy, from the credit crunch to the rise of China. The book is wide-ranging, informed, balanced, calm and well-paced. The logic is always clear and the explanations are cogent, even if the writing is not especially gripping. Cable has often been ahead of the curve, but publishing a book in the teeth of a fast-moving crisis does not allow him that position here. Yet his analysis seems up-to-the-minute.

The Times:

Vince Cable is the only British politician to emerge from the credit crunch a star. This mild, uncharismatic man seemed to typify economics as the dismal science, until he found sudden fame and fortune with his plain-man’s comments on catastrophe. Now he is never off the airwaves. This 181-page book will not disappoint his fans. It is a lucid guide to the present mess, faltering only at the final turn. Cable is treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats and when analysis turns to prescription, he is afflicted by the same confusion and indecision as everyone else. This perhaps makes his book an even more authentic record of these wretched times. … True to his party, Cable is at heart a nostalgic optimist, an old liberal yearning for a better yesterday and comfortable in the presence of the conventional wisdom.

The Guardian:

it would be wrong to see The Storm as an exercise in “I told you so”. He has the occasional dig at Labour and the Conservatives but his book is analytical rather than party political. … Both the major parties bought into the fantasy that the City represented the future and manufacturing the past. … Cable, who is unusual for a modern politician in having some hands-on experience of life in the private sector – he worked as an economist for Shell – says that a “brutal reappraisal” is now under way. … For a book that has obviously been turned around quickly in response both to the deepening of the crisis last autumn and Cable’s growing reputation at Westminster, The Storm is remarkably error-free and well written.

The Independent:

It is probably the best book you can read to understand what on earth is going on out there, and does the sort of job that those blood-red Penguin Specials did decades ago. For the intelligent layman, it chronicles complex events as it explains them, pulling in just the right amount of wit, history, anecdote and theory along the way. In fact, the book is a much broader tour d’horizon of the contemporary economic scene than just an account of the credit crunch … he is in truth less a liberal and more of an old-fashioned social democrat who never embraced the sort of punk Thatcherism that New Labour fell for. It is difficult to argue with Cable’s conclusions: that the idea that property ownership as a one-way ticket to prosperity and a pension has been “a lie”; that foreign ownership of UK economic assets such as the car industry and the utilities does matter; and that neglect of manufacturing and skills have left us in an economy where “only Polish immigrants know how to repair leaking pipes and lay a brick”.

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No comments

It’s sold out on Amazon again! It’ll be 10 days before I get mine.

by KL on April 9, 2009 at 10:07 am. Reply #

The discussion forum is here:

I was lucky enough to get mine at the Oxford Literary Festival and hear Vince speak. It cost the full £15 but I did get it signed by the great man! My review of The Storm is already up on Amazon.

by Niklas Smith on April 9, 2009 at 11:15 am. Reply #

P.S. Remember to use the Lib Dems affinity link that Stephen put in the post, not my link above, for buying the book.

by Niklas Smith on April 9, 2009 at 11:17 am. Reply #

Nice potted history of the crunch – but notable for its absence of any real solutions. Pretty disappointing.

by Andrew Duffield on April 9, 2009 at 11:51 am. Reply #

No solutions? I remember my Professor setting a question at Uni, How would you solve France’s unemployment problems?
My essay failed to satisfy him and he deplored my failure to provide a proper solution. I wrote to him, replying that if I has a solution I would be knocking the doors of the Elysee or the Matignon demanding a King’s Ransom, not attending his chicken-shit course.

by Martin Land on April 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm. Reply #

Well, perhaps Vince should be knocking the doors of the Elysee or the Treasury, demanding a king’s ransom. Not attending a chicken-shit …… (reader, please fill in your preferred words here).

by David Allen on April 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm. Reply #

Already had a few thoughts up – the Indy has followed my comparison to the Penguin Specials, I see.

My note

One impression is that Vince has been very careful to keep his arguments focussed so a number of questions do arise on how he would comment on other dissections of the mess that parallel some of his arguments.

by Edis Bevan on April 9, 2009 at 6:41 pm. Reply #

It will suspend belief if Vince Cable is not part of the next Government,so to put in place his much sought economic planning,commercial experience and international vision, after the next General Election.

Dr Cable`s discursive and objective digest of the world economic crisis,is peerless.

The book comes in our hour of need, to show how Britain removes its burden of debt, that is impacting on almost the whole nation.

Dr Cable states that one trenchant failure of Government was not to listen to his advice, when he was the only economic Liberal Democrat siren, advocating against the de-mutualisation of the High Street Building Societies, before the Northern Rock Government take-over and greed of Mr Applegarth et al.

Dr.Cable has revealed why it is imperative for the US and the EU to engage in positive dialogue with China and India.

China and India (and now also Brazil) are the `awkward newcomers’, with 40% of of the world`s population,as they hold the key to solvent international markets and progress with climate change,in the long term.

`The Storm’ is a tour de force and should be compulsory reading for all politicians and economists and an aide memoir to the new 44th President of the US.

To omit Dr. Cable from the top table of the next Government would be folly.

`The Storm’ says most to a Government currently perpetrating an enormous injustice by stoking up a rising tide of missed social equality and opportunities for young couples to buy a new home.

The book also reaches out to the majority of hard working industrious British families, suffering the worst impact of the `Credit Crunch since 1929 and the hungry 1930`s, with unemployment likely to rise to 3 million, by the end of 2009.

by Cllr Patrick Smith on April 10, 2009 at 3:50 pm. Reply #

New review of The Storm in the Financial Times HERE; post updated to include it.

by Stephen Tall on April 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm. Reply #

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