– Eight years on, the legacy of the financial crisis continues to reverberate, in economics and politics. How did it happen? What lessons can we learn? The winner of this year's Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year award, Sebastian Mallaby's The Man Who Knew, adds to the debate by recounting the pivotal role played by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.
The award was presented on Tuesday night at a ceremony at the National Gallery in London by Financial Times editor Lionel Barber and Vivian Hunt, managing partner of our United Kingdom and Ireland office. Vivian describes The Man Who Knew as “marrying the biographer’s humanizing touch with a fascinating inside look at how policy decisions are actually reached in the real world.”
Sebastian, a British journalist based in Washington DC, and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, sees the book’s significance this way: “Some people think that we had a financial crisis because of an intellectual error, that Greenspan didn’t understand that the finance was unstable. My book shows that he understood perfectly well, that finance was radically unstable and you can still have a crisis. So this book forces us to rethink why finance was unstable.”
Also on Tuesday, Nora Rosendahl, Helsinki-based co-founder of wellness startup You-app, was presented this year’s Bracken Bower Prize, awarded to the best proposal for a business book by an author under 35. Nora won the £15,000 prize for her proposal Mental Meltdown, a book which examines what she sees as a ticking time bomb of work-stress related diseases, particularly for the millennial generation. She was motivated to write the proposal by the plight of her peers. “In my peers, I’ve seen so much exhaustion and so much stress and so much unnecessary anxiety with younger people in work life today –– and all of it is preventable. There are small things that employers and above all the individual can do to combat stress and exhaustion,” she explains.
The Business Book of the Year Award, in its 12th edition, is given to the book that provides “the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues, including management, finance, and economics.” Since 2005, it has selected books that comprise a thorough overview of business in a tumultuous decade.
Each of this year's other shortlisted authors, presented below, will receive £10,000.
- Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business, by Rana Foroohar, about how the practices that led to the financial crisis have come to infiltrate all American businesses.
- What Works: Gender Equality by Design, by Iris Bohnet, about how organizations can overcome unconscious gender bias with behavioral design.
- ALIBABA: The House that Jack Ma Built, by Duncan Clark, about how an English teacher built one of the world's largest companies.
- The 100-Year Life, by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, about how to rethink working life when careers last up to 70 years.
- The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War, by Robert J. Gordon, which reexamines the assumption that economic growth will continue unabated in light of the unprecedented advances that occurred between 1870 and 1970.