Booklaunch Issue 19

Page 1

Who can bring down Donald Trump?

(The devil knows who, but it ain’t JB)

In the last edition of Booklaunch, an extract from an eye-opening book by David Curcio inadvertently explained the American public’s fascination with Donald Trump. Curcio’s Smash Hit is a study of Hollywood’s love affair with boxing and what it demonstrated was America’s heroising of the bad boy.

In British popular culture, we have a fondness for the failure—the loser—but not in the USA, where every individual is a potential role model: think Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s 1943 novel The Fountainhead. Roark is unlikeable, driven, aloof, smug, self-obsessed and lacking in empathy, but he’s also a fighter for what he alone believes in. For Rand, and for many of the nine million who went on to buy the book, that made him the embodiment of a new human ideal.

Curcio’s boxers, like Rocky Balboa (Rocky, 1976), are underdogs who redeem themselves through their determination to make good. They’re also often arrogant, disrespectful, egotistical and unethical—in and out of the ring. Although married, Jake La Motta (Raging Bull, 1980) hits on a 15-yearold, marries her, and then beats up everyone she knows, including herself, out of paranoia. Boxers aren’t nice guys but they fight to win, and that makes them very watchable. Their flaws are part of their attraction; continued on page 6

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A bestselling author’s second novel goes avant-garde. Intentionally?

Keith Kahn-Harris is intrigued by a risk-taking spy-thriller that overturns established genres

I’ve never written about my enjoyment of spy thrillers before. It’s something I’m neither ashamed of nor proud of. Nor do I read enough of them to be able to say anything meaningful about the genre as a whole. I read a lot; sometimes I read spy stories: simple as that. So it’s taken something pretty seismic to make me want to write about a spy thriller.

That seismic something is Terry Hayes’s The Year of the Locust. Hayes, a veteran Hollywood screenwriter (of two of the Mad Max sequels, among other things) scored a smash hit with his first novel in 2013, I Am Pilgrim. His success was deserved; while the book didn’t redefine the spy thriller, its inventive plotting and vivid sense of place made it compulsive reading.

I read I Am Pilgrim a year or so after it came out. A few years later I casually wondered whether Hayes had written a follow-up. I discovered that The Year of the Locust was scheduled to appear in 2016; in the end it was delayed so often that I wasn’t able to buy a copy until a week after it finally appeared in November 2023.

It’s unsurprising that The Year of the Locust took so long to see the light of day. Interviews suggest it was a tortuous process to write and exasperating for his publisher to guide over the finish line. And for good reason: The Year of the Locust is one of the most audacious and ridiculous books ever published.

For the first two thirds or so of this 700-page epic, the story explores much of the same terrain as I Am Pilgrim, without being a sequel). Kane, a “Denied Access Area” CIA spy, is sent to track down a dangerous Islamist terrorist, in the borderlands of Iran and Afghanistan, who is planning some kind of “spectacular” attack on the West. As with his previous book, Hayes takes this uninventive premise and turns it into something vital. Yes, the writing style is guilty of some airport-thriller vices—pedantic over-explaining, stilted dialogue, twists you can see coming a mile away—but the brio of the book makes them forgivable. The Year of the Locust is just too much fun for the occasionally ropey writing style to matter too much.

But that’s the first two thirds. After that … look, I’m not an experienced-enough fiction reviewer to explain this without giving away the mother of all twists, but don’t worry: the book is still worth reading even if you know. So here it is.

More than halfway into it and without any warning, The Year of the Locust suddenly morphs into sci-fi. One minute we are with Kane in Langley, being briefed on a mission, the next we are in a time-travelling submarine. And shortly after that, Kane finds himself in post-apocalypse New York, fighting “orcs”; super-soldiers enhanced with alien DNA who are trying to wipe out humanity.

It’s a tribute to Hayes’s skills as a storyteller that, by the end of the book, everything just about hangs together plotwise. But there’s no getting away with it: switching suddenly from spy thriller to post-apocalyptic sci-fi is one of the craziest thing I have ever seen a writer do.

Plots that twist and turn are ten a penny,

particularly in thrillers. Switching entire genres, though, is something that is very rarely done. And switching to a genre that demands acceptance of a very different set of premises without any warning asks a hell of a lot from the reader.

Genre has never been a prison-house; eclecticism and experimentation with form and genre is hardly new. Fusions of genre within a single work are one of the motors of artistic development. But the sudden shift of genre in the course of a single work is usually the domain of the artistically derided, of “low” culture, of commercial and artistic failures.

Sometimes, those sudden shifts in genre can give a work cult status. Ray Steckler’s 1966 B movie Rat Pfink A Boo Boo begins as a crime drama but 36 minutes in, Steckler, apparently bored with the the story, executes a bizarre shift: the film’s star and a minor character step into an adjacent room and step out moments later as Rat Pfink and Boo Boo, obvious parodies of Batman and Robin.

This sudden shift was made knowingly by a director with a reputation for shoddy but enjoyable film-making, subsequently canonised as “so bad, it’s good” by cult-film aficionados. Other such shifts, though, may simply be seen as so bad, they’re bad. The final series of The Crown was ridiculed for featuring a “ghost” Diana haunting other royals after her death. The first season of the TV series Das Boot decided, for some unfathomable reason, to intersperse claustrophobic sequences inside U-boats with a bizarre subplot in which a U-boat captain ends up in New York dating a jazz singer from Harlem. It didn’t work, needless to say. Yet to dismiss such indigestible shifts in genre and tone as simply the mark of bad or unsuccessful art would be a mistake. It’s more productive to see such weirdness as artistic experimentation, as a mapping of new aesthetic territory. Why must “experimental” art be knowingly obscure and impenetrable? Why shouldn’t the desire to explore new aesthetic worlds occur in mass-market art?

For a long time, I’ve been playing with the concept of the “accidental avant-garde”.

The accidentally avant-garde is work that pushes at the limits of artistic conventions, without evidently wishing do so. The accidental avant-gardist is one who may wish to achieve mass success in a genre but who, in seeking to conquer a genre, also breaks it.

I am fully aware that this concept risks invites condescension on the party of the viewer and leads us down rabbit holes in a futile search for an artist’s “intention”. What The Year of the Locust has taught me is that the concept of the accidental avant-garde may sometimes need to be reversed: what if the apparently accidental is actually intentional? Can we cope with the possibility that mass-market art can deliberately set out to play with and transgress the limits of genre?

Clues in The Year of the Locust suggest that Terry Hayes might be a more sophisticated author than he seems. While the first two thirds of the book appear to be set in “our” world, it seems seeded with suggestions that it is either set in the near future or in some kind of alternate universe.

There is, for example, a lot of hightech spying going on, but whether the tech being used is currently available or secret, or pending or simply made up is hard to tell. At one point in the story, the CIA manages to isolate an audio recording, from months earlier, of a conversation held in the back of an SUV travelling through war-torn Syria. We are told that this was part of the vast amount of data sucked up by satellites, yet it’s possible that this is tech so advanced that we are actually in sci-fi territory without knowing it. Here, Hayes leverages the secrecy of actual intelligence work in a slyly clever way to create an ambiguity, leaving the average reader unsure what is or is not possible.

The Year of the Locust may also be playing with the reader geopolitically too. Much of the early part of the book involves a US military presence in Afghanistan. I assumed that this meant that the book was set prior to the US withdrawal in August 2021 and that the endless delays in publishing the book meant this detail had become a bit dated. Yet later on there’s a fleeting reference to the “Second Ukrainian War”. While, again, that could be explained away as a clunky distinction between the Donbass secessionist war post-2014 and the 2022 Russian invasion, it’s more likely another clue that we are years ahead of 2023 or perhaps on another timeline altogether.

The biggest clue of all is dropped in casually, half way into the book, when the villain escapes to a secret centre in the Russian space facility in Baikonor, Kazakhstan, for processing ore from asteroid mining. Asteroid mining is not currently a thing, as far as I know, although it might be in future decades. But so matter-of-fact is Hayes’s tone here, at least when this is first introduced, that it’s easy to miss it or dismiss it as bad science. Only later do we realise the pivotal importance of the asteroid mining.

I don’t know what game Terry Hayes is playing in The Year of the Locust. Maybe it’s best not to know. That way we can treat the uncertainty over whether the book’s avant-gardeness is accidental or not as an intriguingly enjoyable puzzle. Either way, it’s a salutary reminder of how playful pulp can be.


Transworld / Bantam Press 9 Nov 2023, 400 pages

ISBN 2100000292189

RRP £22.00 signed by author


Terry Hayes is the New York Times bestselling author of I Am Pilgrim and an award-winning writer and movie producer. His film credits include Payback, Road Warrior, and Dead Calm (featuring Nicole Kidman).


Keith Kahn-Harris is a writer and sociologist, senior lecturer and course team leader at Leo Baeck College, associate lecturer at Birkbeck College, and a visiting fellow at Durham University. Among his books is The Babel Message, a whimsical exploration of the world of the Kinder Egg.

Terry Hayes, English-born, 1951


IMF eBook

247 pages 9 October 2023



Throughout the past two decades, Morocco has faced several external and domestic shocks, including large swings in international oil prices, regional geopolitical tensions, severe droughts, and most recently the impact of the pandemic and the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Despite rough waters, the govern –ment has stayed the course and remained focused not only on immediate stability but also on the long-term needs of the Moroccan economy. This has involved the adoption of a series of difficult measures, like the elimination of energy subsidies and a strategy aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure, diversifying the production and export bases by attracting foreign investment, and modernising the governance structure of the public administration.

The road to higher and more inclusive growth, however, remains steep. Despite gains in poverty reduction, literacy and lifespans, Morocco’s economy continues to face a large population of inactive youth, large gaps in economic opportunities for women, a fragmented social protection system and continuing barriers to private-sector development.

Too many Moroccans— twice as many women as men—are NEET


In 2023 the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund convened their annual meetings in Marrakech—the first such meetings in Africa since being hosted in Nairobi, Kenya, 50 years ago.

The setting is relevant because Morocco’s recent economic performance holds inspiring lessons for other economies, particularly in the current highly uncertain geo-economic environment.

The Marrakech 2023 Annual Meetings provided an opportunity to recognise Morocco’s strong commitment to economic reforms and stability and to promote the country as an example of how to build trade and investment links in a fragmenting world.

Its pursuit of ambitious reforms has helped the country withstand serious shocks in recent years, including the Covid-19 pandemic, two severe droughts and a terms-of-trade upset triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Morocco has been on a remarkable journey as a gateway to Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Following the turbulent 1980s, when severe macro-economic imbalances required IMF-supported adjustment programs, its last three decades have been characterised by significant economic stability and a steady progress in improving standards of living.

This has been made possible by a conservative approach to fiscal policy, an effective program of public investment that improved the country’s infrastructure, and a series of reforms that have (1) modernised monetary policy and financial supervisory frameworks, (2) opened the country to international trade and attracted foreign investors, and (3) gradually strengthened the governance of public administration.

It is no coincidence that, because of this progress and in recognition of the efficiency of its economic institutions, Morocco secured a Flexible Credit Line arrangement with the IMF in 2023, a precautionary credit line reserved for countries with very strong policies and institutional frameworks.

Still, Morocco’s quest for strong, resilient and inclusive growth is far from over. After accelerating in the first decade of the new millennium, income convergence with advanced economies has slowed. And, although better than a decade ago, the benefits of economic development still remain elusive for a significant part of Morocco’s population, particularly young people and women, given their high unemployment rate and the presence of a still-large informal sector.

Even though Morocco is not the only country in the world that struggles to ensure wider and fairer opportunities for all its citizens, what stands out from its experience is its policymakers’ recognition that addressing these issues will require a new series of bold and ambitious reforms.

Indeed, starting from 2020, and thus right into the middle of the pandemic and the largest recession in Morocco’s recent

history, the authorities announced a series of sweeping reforms that would enable the country’s transition to a “new model of development”

At the heart of this transition is the idea that future economic growth will need to increasingly come from private sector investment, a stronger accumulation of human capital, greater participation of women in economic life, a social protection system that efficiently targets those who are really in need of state support, a financial sector that combines stability with dynamism in allocating resources, and continued progress in strengthening the governance of public institutions.

This book provides a broad overview of both Morocco’s economic progress in the past few decades and its economic modernisation agenda going forward. Its success story makes Morocco a useful example for many developing economies still in search of building the foundations of macroeconomic stability. And the series of reforms that the country has begun to implement provides equally interesting ideas for all countries engaged in the quest for stronger and more inclusive growth.

The first chapter focuses on the policies and reforms that allowed Morocco to maintain macroeconomic stability throughout the multiple negative shocks that have occurred in the past 15 years. It goes on to focus on how to make the Moroccan economy more productive and resilient.

Any discussion of the structural transformation of the Moroccan economy cannot ignore the changing climate landscape, which is in turn a source of risks but also of significant opportunities. Chapter 7 discusses the risks associated with more frequent droughts and increasing scarcity of water resources, which threaten to yield major GDP losses in the future (with a disproportionate impact on rural and urban vulnerable households). To confront this challenge, Morocco needs to continue to deploy water storage but also rationalise the use of water.

However, climate change also presents opportunities. Blessed with vast amounts of renewable energy sources, Morocco is particularly well-placed to reap the benefits of the global decarbonisation agenda. Transitioning toward a green electricity generation matrix could bolster Morocco’s comparative advantage, potentially turning the country into an exporter of green energy while boosting job creation in industries and services that benefit from the decarbonization process.

Because achieving these objectives would require significant investment, particularly from the private sector, a comprehensive approach would be needed to mobilise the resources required to finance this investment.

The last section of the book deals with the inclusive nature of economic development in Morocco. Chapter 8 discusses a well-known fact of the Moroccan economy, as well as of many economies in the Middle East and North Africa region, namely the large share of young people who are unemployed, outside the school system or

not undergoing any training (the so-called ‘not in employment, education or training,’ or NEETs).

One striking result of the analysis is that although women’s enrollment in secondary and tertiary education increased markedly in Morocco over the last two decades, the same cannot be observed when it comes to participation in labour markets. In 2018, the NEET rate for women was still more than twice that for men.

Indeed, the authors find that the probability of being NEET is higher for Moroccan women (particularly those married and/or with children) and for young people with lower levels of education living in midsized towns and coming from low-income families.

The policy implication is clear: developing incentives and providing services to encourage Moroccan women to enter or remain in the jobs market should be a top priority in the country’s agenda of structural reforms.

Closing the gender gap in Morocco’s labor force participation over the next 50 years would increase income levels by about 20 percent. Additional reforms should include eliminating the legal barriers that hinder women’s opportunities to participate in economic life, ensuring equal access to education, and redoubling efforts to close literacy gaps.

The last chapter of the book focuses on one of Morocco’s most important challenges, namely the need to improve the quality of its education system. Although Morocco has made considerable progress, learning outcomes (as measured by students’ scores on international tests and dropout rates) remain comparatively weak, and skill mismatches are widely recognised as a key factor behind the high level of youth unemployment.

Improving the efficiency of public spending on education is key to boosting education results and this could be obtained by improving the quality of budget management, enhancing teachers’ incentives and overall education levels, and strengthening institutional and governance quality.

The IMF has been a close partner of Morocco throughout the last decade, including through four successive Precautionary and Liquidity Line arrangements from 2012 to 2019, and remains committed to supporting the implementation of this wide-reaching set of reforms in several ways.

On the financing side, the approval of a new precautionary Flexible Credit Line in April 2023 allows Morocco to benefit from an extra layer of insurance against the risk of severe adverse shocks, which could not only damage its economy but also hinder policymakers’ ability to continue implementing their reform agenda.

By leveraging its expertise and drawing lessons from other countries that have gone through similar changes in the past, the IMF can help Morocco design a smooth transition to an inflation-targeting monetary policy

The neuroscience puzzle: we don’t know what works and what doesn’t

Uta Frith reviews Camilla Nord’s exploration of the latest developments in the treatment of disorders of

When I was a naïve young student and first visited the USA, I was amazed at finding whole shelves of self-help books at airport bookshops. I found them irresistible. Shouldn’t everybody want to read them and make use of their wisdom?

What I had not realised is that the authors were mostly charlatans. There are always those who offer worthless remedies with glowing testimonials for such universal scourges as chronic pain, depression and anxiety.

Later, when I carried out research on autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, I encountered the full force of quackery. I frequently had to commiserate with families who, in trying to find advice on how to care for their children, had amassed books that were disappointing and even harmful. Some sang the praises of massive vitamin doses, others talked up the value of programmes based on learning theory or advocated highly questionable approaches such as regression and coloured spectacle lenses.

Camilla Nord’s book is a self-help book of sorts but in a very different class. It is based on science, and while carefully evaluating the wide range of mental disorders and therapies now available, it also makes suggestions about how we might improve our well-being in a way that is admirably accessible to the general reader.

Mental health conditions are a major scourge and now make up a large part of our disease burden, causing misery, affecting families as well as sufferers and having a knock-on effect that is felt by society and the medical profession more widely. Serious conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can damage average life expectancy by as much as 25 years. This is partly due to the increased risk of suicide but also, surprisingly, to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. As Nord points out, this fact alone highlights the link between physical and mental health, and thus the interdependence of mind, brain and body.

There is an urgent need to understand mental illness better and learn about treatments. This book acts as a superb introduction. It reveals the supposed and real effects of treatments, as well as their side effects, comparing what is known about now-classic approaches, such as CBT, meditation, mindfulness and pharmacological treatments with the latest experimental research into psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms and direct and indirect brain stimulation.

At the same time, if you are one of the worried well, you will find useful pointers to improving your well-being and cautions on not misreading everyday changes of mood and levels of anxiety as signs of mental ill-health.

The book sympathetically anticipates and answers questions that are frequently asked by sufferers, families and friends. Among these is whether any of the available treatments actually work. Nord addresses this with honesty and clarity. She reveals the difficulties faced by research and explains why it is difficult to evaluate their effectiveness.

Plenty of initially promising methods

are knocked back by subsequent trials. There is also the question of why large variations occur in individuals’ responses. The fact is, we do not know why some people respond to certain treatments and others don’t, and why others again suffer side effects, sometimes severely. If we knew the answers, we would be nearer to fulfilling the dream of personalised medicine.

Even the most basic questions are hard to pin down. How does feeling happy (frequently asked in questionnaires) differ from feeling motivated (rarely considered in questionnaires)? How is it possible that placebos work even when we are aware that we are taking them? How do both antidepressants and psychotherapy enhance each other and how do they change brain activity? What is known about the neurochemistry of pain and pleasure? What is the difference between wanting and liking? How is our mood influenced by the state of our stomach and heart? What are the deep links between brain and body?

The effectiveness of placebos continues to fascinate, especially in contrast to the use of prescription drugs, around which many hopes have been dashed. This effect of placebos might be understood as a metacognitive process—an awareness of one’s own thought processes—that acts top-down into unconscious brain states and stems from a confident belief in a particular treatment’s value on the part of the patient. Yet it remains a puzzle. If only we knew more about how it works, a major advance in the treatment of many currently intractable conditions could be made.

One strong theme of the book is the pervasive dualism that bugs our thinking, as if there were two different realms: here brain, there mind. Readers will be familiar with the idea that mental disorders are not “all in the mind” (the title of a weekly half-hour podcast about psychology and psychiatry, broadcast on Radio 4 and produced by the BBC’s Science Unit) and would not dismiss so-called “functional” neurological conditions as imaginary just because no structural cause had yet been identified.

the mind

It is now generally accepted that the brain creates the mind and hence also disorders of the mind. Furthermore, we are likely to be persuaded by the many studies that report deep connections between brain and body that together influence what we feel and how we think. Nord’s book will surely erode any lingering doubts about whether the mind is somehow detached from the physicality of our bodies.

In medicine we are used to thinking about what happens in an individual body. In psychiatry we need to get used to thinking about what happens between different bodies—i.e. people. Most mental illness, with depression and schizophrenia as prime examples, disrupt social interaction and communication. Here the direction of cause and effect may seem impossible to disentangle, since with progressive illness, social isolation increases. Has anybody invented and tested a method that directly targets social interaction? A tall order, as the ingredients that make social interaction rewarding are not entirely clear. It is not surprising then that treatments that target social communication are not yet part of our toolbox.

But Nord tackles some very new methods currently being developed by neuroscientists including different forms of meditation and mindfulness. It is inevitable that readers will ask whether methods such as these can also help those whose mental health is in good shape. They will also ask about ethics. If transcranial stimulation helps to enhance mood and motivation, is it fair to allow cognitive enhancement for the privileged few who have easy access to these still-rare facilities?

Nord discusses whether a healthy lifestyle might build up resilience and prevent mental disorders such as PTSD and depression. This is a controversial topic. Everyone agrees that good sleep, a healthy diet and exercise are all a good thing but whether they might prevent or mitigate physical disorders such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes and heart conditions is still contested. Moderation seems to be the watchword, Nord advises, and this chimes with ancient wisdom, which seeks balance and the avoidance of excess.

A strong immune system also seems to be the requisite of a healthy brain. But which is cause and which effect? Perhaps the prime mover comes from the placebo effect of bolstering the self, rather than specifics of food intake or type of exercise. As for whether it is possible to boost the immune system to make it more resilient, popular belief would have it so but scientific evidence is scant. As one would expect from an accomplished neuroscientist, Nord draws attention here to genetic factors, as well as the occurrence of random events, as powerful causal factors.

If we could in fact boost our resilience to the kind of traumas we might encounter during a long life in an unstable world, that would be a wonderful thing. Nord’s book amply demonstrates that exciting research is being done in this field but it does so in the context of our still having a woefully poor knowledge of how the mind and brain work.



Allen Lane 14 September 2023

Paperback, 304 pages 9780241545799

RRP £25.00


Camilla Nord leads the Mental Health Neuroscience Lab at the University of Cambridge. Her work has been featured in the New Statesman, on Sky News and on BBC Radio Four’s The Naked Scientist The Balanced Brain is her first book.


Uta Frith is Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. For 40 years she specialised in the links between mind, brain and behaviour in autism and dyslexia.

The Balanced Brain is her first book
Camilla Nord

Who the hell can stop Donald Trump?

the drama focuses is on how these flaws get redeemed—in King Vidor’s The Champ (1931), for example, where the champ is a washed-up, alcoholic gambler, and in Robert Wise’s The Set-Up (1949), where a has-been boxer fights and wins, even though the Mob has arranged for him to lose, and ends up being punished by having his hand smashed in an alley after the fight, leaving him to say to his wife, “We won.”

Donald Trump is today’s Hollywood boxer. He’s faulty in every way: a cheat, a liar, a crook, a sexual predator and he never stops fighting. Everything he says is pugilistic. An ambitious failure at school who exacted revenge on those who knew more than he did—teachers—by taking potshots at them and making the rest of the class laugh, he has gone on to use the violence of language to provoke his betters and amuse his peers.

If Trump had been a movie, there’d have been a team of scriptwriters behind him; as a street-fighting politician, he writes his own scripts, and does so spontaneously and outrageously. Each jab is a joke and comes buttressed by a fusillade of insulting crosses and hooks. His stamina is astonishing; unlike bouts in the ring, his performances at rallies can go on for hours.

Boxing movies often deal with the relationship between boxer and trainer, where the trainer’s support is instrumental in the boxer’s development. Sometimes, the dependency is reciprocal. In David O. Russell’s The Fighter (2010), a boxer and his half-brother trainer need each other to solve their own problems. Here in Europe, where we have no investment in Trump, he’s merely a comic, foul-mouthed, self-serving racketeer; in America, however, where Trump and the public are connected electorally, supporters can feel that by backing him, they’re backing themselves..

The catch is that contact with Trump is toxic. In Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2004), boxer Maggie Fitzgerald’s grit contributes to the redemption of her trainer Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), who has struggled with guilt and regrets from

his past. In the case of Trump, his electorate’s dependency on him does the opposite because it requires them to validate every egregious thing he has ever said or done. His story is one of corruption and not redemption.

The impossibility of Trump’s ever fulfilling the hopes vested in him is spelled out vividly in a 1941 film—not a boxing film but one that shares the psychological and social insights of the fight genre. In an interview with a young reporter, an elderly man, now in a sanatarium and dying of lung cancer, talks about a one-time friend who exploited and then betrayed him in his fraudulent rise to power. Had the speaker been a former member of Trump’s inner circle, he might have said exactly the same.

I was his oldest friend and as far as I was concerned, he behaved like a swine. Not that he was ever brutal, he just did brutal things. Maybe I wasn’t his friend but, if I wasn’t, he never had one. Maybe I was what you nowadays call a stooge. …

I suppose he had some private sort of greatness but he kept it to himself. He never gave himself away. He never gave anything away. He just left you a tip, hmmm? He had a generous mind. I don’t suppose anybody had so many opinions but he never believed in anything except himself. He never had a conviction, except himself, in his life. …

Of course, a lot of us check out without having any special convictions about death, but we do know what we’re leaving, we do believe in something. …

He married for love but that’s why he did everything, that’s why he went into politics. It seems we weren’t enough, he wanted all the voters to love him too. That’s all he ever really wanted out of life—was love. That’s his story—how he lost it. You see, he just didn’t have any to give. Oh, he loved himself, of course, very dearly. And his mother—I guess he always loved her. …

He was always trying to prove something.

I guess he was pretty lonely … He never finished anything … He was disappointed in the world so he built one of his own, an absolute monarchy.

The speaker here, of course, is Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten) in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941) and it is Charles Kane of whom he speaks, in another scene tearing up the treasured sheet of paper on which Kane had written out a declaration of principles at the start of his career.

The question for us is: how can Trump’s prospective voters be shown that, however entertaining they find him, they too are his stooges and they too will be betrayed in his constant effort to achieve the goal he first set himself at school: to prove himself right and everyone else wrong?

Another sort of fighter Joe Biden cannot bring Trump down; the Democratic Party cannot do it; we liberal intellectuals cannot do it. We have no currency with those who venerate him; we are the swamp he says he wants to drain. Only one group can turn Trump voters against him: his own constitutents, because, as with any cult, Trumpers trust no one but themselves.

Of these, the most consequential are not the thinkers, the Steve Bannons and Newt Gingrichs and Peter Thiels, because Trump supporters regard intellectuality with suspicion; no matter how alt-right it may be, thought operates in the same mental universe as liberalism: it’s what teachers do. The keys to Trump’s undermining are the religious activists, who also have a reputation for being combative: the preachers and Bible-bashers and televangelists, whose engine is weirdness and who are the principal manipulators of the notion of redemption.

If you were a Charismatic, you’d be convinced that the Devil—Lucifer, Satan, whatever—is afoot today, walking the world to ensnare people into working with him and against God. His mission is to tempt the weak into sin, and thereby consign them to Hell, or to distract them from God’s righteousness in order to undermine what is holy. He does this by promoting false doctrines—fake news— to spread confusion and lead people away from the true path.

Grassroots recognition by fundamentalist Christians that Trump looks like the Devil, talks like the Devil and walks like the Devil ought to lead them to conclude that he probably is the Devil. That should be enough to put them on their guard against his charming of them and lead them to recognise his attraction as a snare.

There are starting to be books that play with this idea, like Joshua Green’s Devil’s Bargain (2017), about Trump’s relationship with Bannon, and Rick Wilson’s Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump—and Democrats from Themselves (2020), but both only treat Trump’s devilry as a metaphor. Both are also very obviously written by Trump opponents and are the product of mainstream publishing—Penguin and Forum Books (a division of Quarto)—and mainstream publishing doesn’t do evangelicism.

Instead, one has to tread into the mysterious waters of self-publishing, where one finds such barely literate curiosities as God Trump Satan—Potus Donald Trump is Satan (2018) by someone apparently called

God Bryan Cottle Snr., who claims that “This book is true facts” and that “Trump and his terrorist groups have been trying to remove me from the face of this earth.” Equally whacky is Did GOD or SATAN Ordain Donald Trump? (2020), the description of which begins “There is no Doubt in the Mind of God nor in the Minds of Godly People, that it was SATAN who Ordained Donald Trump to be the President of ‘The Divided States of United Lies!’” and that “the Powers of this World are all Ordained by Satan.” Both books are unreadable. Marginally more “rational” critiques of Trump are also unlikely to make headway because they wear their political affiliations on their sleeve. In White Evangelicals Back “Satan Trump” in 2024: Trumpists Like to Mix Religion and Politics for Evil Gains (undated), author Dave Masko deters the very readers he wants to reach by insulting them in his title—not a good tactic—although as “an award-winning foreign correspondent and photojournalist” and writer of UFO Aliens Now, maybe he understands his chosen demographic better than the evidence suggests.

Another book with a very long title— why are envangelicals so wordy?—is Trump Represents Satan Here on Earth: But the Judgment, this Second Coming, Will Remove him and his Followers from the Earth. Rev. 12:9-12 (2019). This book begins by prefacing a four-line quotation from the Book of Revelations with the chapter heading “TRUMP AND HIS FOLLOWERS WERE KICKED OUT OF HEAVEN” and the statement that “Satan is on Earth. Donald Trump, Republican Tea-Baggers, Lindsey Graham, and Moscow-Mitch are ALL devils!” before going on to say that “Trump is extremely ignorant, insane, racist, and satanic—so some ignorant, insane, racist and satanic Americans made Trump the illegitimate, fake president of the USA.”

None of this will do, however, because it is simply confrontational, and while it blasts Trump for being satanic, it does not do so in the language of Biblical accusation. In addition, the author of this particular book is Youssef Khalim, which is not a name that Trump’s white base will warm to.

Edging closer to what is needed is (another oddly long title) Donald Trump Servant of Jesus Christ or … of satan?: Have we been deceived? Judge for yourself! (undated) by Dr. Robbi Warren, a black evangelical entrepreneur who runs the Robbi Warren Ministries and calls himself an International Evangelist.

Warren is an interesting character. In 1996, he founded a multi-media broadcast, based out of Baltimore, Maryland, which now includes The Word Network and WATC TV 57 Atlanta and apparently reaches millions of viewers throughout the USA, South America, Hawaii and Canada. Over the years, “Elder” Warren has been heard on various radio stations and says that “Many lives and souls have been changed and transformed through these broadcasts. Calls are received continuously from people that have been blessed.”

Of Trump, he writes:

Donald Trump has allegedly always manifested an obsession for money and power. Yet, with all the money he claims to have— and brags constantly about how rich he is—why isn’t he paying his own legal bills? That’s what I want people to question, and not simply accept his deceit and deception. …

You spend your hard-earned money for ‘the Donald’, while his money sits in the bank collecting interest. Why is he using a bail bonds company instead of his own money? He’s selling mugs, T-shirts and other products, making millions!

Is that godly? I’m a born again believer, too, by the way. And I do hear from Jesus Christ. But something is wrong with this picture.

We can’t keep blaming the LGBTQ+ agenda, or the abortionists, for the decay of America and the world. Because God gave all mankind the power to choose. God never made anyone serve him. Think about it. Noah preached the consequences of sin for 120 years. Even in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, folks made their own choices. …

I believe that Donald Trump is using manipulative techniques directed toward the Christian community for them to believe that he is their answer (messiah).”

For an educated audience, this is all hokey but if it cuts through with Elder Warren’s audience, it’s not to be knocked. The pastor is evidently a man with a following and can project an alternative message to his faith community of black TV viewers. He is unlikely to be well-received, however, by American Whites, who only take note of their own.

One such could be Russell Moore, the Tennessee-based president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Moore has blamed Trump for the attack on the Capitol in January, 2021, putting himself at odds with Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, who likened people such as Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, to Judas Iscariot for demanding Trump’s impeachment, and with Jerry Falwell Jr., who said he’d give Trump a third honorary degree if he were still head of Liberty University, according to an article in Time

Or maybe Cal Thomas, who worked for five years with Jerry Falwell Snr. in building the Moral Majority but has now broken with the religious right. Or Conservative preacher Jeremiah Johnson who, the day after the Capitol riot, publicly repented for prophesying that Donald Trump would win a second term and added that God had removed Mr Trump from office because of his pride and ignorance and to teach Trump’s followers (such as himself) a lesson.

The fighters are out there

It’s the phenomenon of Trump’s losing the 2020 election that flushed out the more principled evangelicals, and if the Democrats had any kind of strategy, they’d be rounding up the best of them into a platoon of white evangelicals who could take Trump on in the pulpit and on TV.

Many of them were hit hard by fellow-Christians who refused to believe that Trump had lost or that prophecies of his win had proved wrong, and who testified that God had personally assured them that a miraculous outcome would overturn the result.

“I fully expected to be called a false prophet etc.,” wrote Johnson in a post

that drew thousands of comments, “but I could have never dreamed in my wildest imagination that so much satanic attack and witchcraft would come from charismatic/prophetic people. I have been flabbergasted at the barrage of continued conspiracy theories being sent every minute our way and the pure hatred being unleashed.

“To my great heartache, I’m convinced parts of the prophetic/charismatic movement are far SICKER than I could have ever dreamed of. I truthfully never realized how absolutely triggered and ballistic thousands and thousands of saints get about Donald Trump.”

Johnson, and others embarrassed also by the failure of the prophetic movement to foresee the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic, would seem to be the perfect candidates for launching a religious counterblast against Trump. Charismatic preachers are typically pugnacious, and have the southpaw advantage of being able to punch like Trump does, but to do so in Bible language, which Trump doesn’t have the vocabulary or the authority to do.

Country singers with a big following could do the job. A Johnny Cash would be ideal: in the late 1970s Cash took a course of Bible study and went on to be ordained as a minister, often performing at Billy Graham crusades. Realignment now would carry a lot of fans with him; sadly, he’s too unwell and probably unsympathetic. “Old Town Road” suggests that Lil Nas X might have had the motivation but his profile as a

black gay doesn’t work here and his latest release—J Christ, in which he struts on a catwalk but also raps while crucified—has already stirred up outrage.

But singer Maren Morris, who announced in September that she is leaving country music because of what the “Trump years” have done to the country music genre, would be a good name to co-opt, having protested about Jason Aldean’s hit song “Try That in a Small Town,” which made waves with conservatives and which she said people were streaming “out of spite”.

Names such as hers will have more impact than artists like Neil Young, the Rolling Stones and Rihanna who have objected to having their music played at Trump’s events, as if in endorsement of him.

In short, a cohort of opposition can be put together to drive a wedge through America’s religious heartland, and trickle up into mainstream republicanism, but it has to be organised and funded and there’s no obvious sign of its being so.

It needs to be: time is running out, and there’s every danger that, if the nettle isn’t grasped, petty nationalists will continue to use Trump to achieve their long-term goal: the break-up of the Union, the overthrow of all that was achieved in the War of Independence, and the restoration of states’ rights—an outcome even more destructive for America than that of Brexit for the UK.

But that’s a rumble for another day.

Stephen Games, Editor


Many Europeans initially thought of the global financial crisis of 2008 as—in the words of German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück—“above all an American problem”. However, in a globalised world, problems usually do not stay in one country. In 1971, the US Treasury Secretary John Connally famously told Europeans that the dollar was “our currency but your problem.” In the twenty-first century, an American financial crisis that was widely thought to originate in the peculiarities of housing finance in the United States became Europe’s problem—and then morphed into a European debt crisis. Forty years after Connally’s confrontational pronouncement in 2014, his successor, Tim Geithner, said to European leaders at an informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting in Wrocław, Poland: “This is your crisis. You have to decide how to fix it.”

By the end of 2012, the EU share of outstanding IMF loans was more than 70 percent, with most of the support going to just three euro area countries: Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Europe depended on the IMF, and the IMF was massively invested in Europe.

A special European vulnerability stem–med from the prominence of banks in Europe’s financial structure. Banks played a much larger role in industrial finance than they did in the United States, and a banking crisis might thus have been expected to have much deeper and more severe effects. In addition, banks held a substantial amount of government debt. By bailing out banks, governments made themselves more fiscally vulnerable, and the yields on their debt instruments surged as prices collapsed. This, in turn, made banks even more vulnerable as the value of the government bonds that the banks held fell. This linkage became noto-

look for success stories in a context in which politics was complicated and dysfunctional. That proclivity set the scene for a particularly dangerous game of chicken. Intellectually, in public discussion and in formulating new approaches to fiscal issues and capital flows, the IMF went far in rethinking economic strategy in the face of an unprecedented challenge. However, at the same time, the IMF operationally needed to maintain the appearance of evenhandedness and normalcy in its approach to its very diverse membership. In the aftermath of the euro debt crisis, the IMF learned two lessons. The first was that it needed to rethink the overall framework of its interactions with currency or monetary unions. The August 2017 Staff Report on Program Design in Currency Unions consistently framed its arguments with reference to the need for evenhandedness. The paper began by noting the necessary legal basis for

IMF eBook 310 pages 5 January 2024 9798400231902


Harold James, the Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European Studies at Princeton University, is Professor of History and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, and an associate at the Bendheim Center for Finance. His books include a study of the interwar depression in Germany, The German Slump (1986); an analysis of how national identity has changed in Germany, A German Identity 1770–1990 (1989); International Monetary Cooperation Since Bretton Woods (1996), and The End of Globalization (2001), which is available in 8 languages. He was also co-author of a history of Deutsche Bank (1995), which won the Financial Times Global Business Book Award in 1996.

The European Debt Crisis was a profound shock to how we all saw ourselves

By early 2010, it had become apparent that several euro area countries were in deep financial trouble. But it was not just a financial mess: a fundamental political and institutional problem was producing the mess. Key European leaders believed that the responsible European institution—the European Commission—lacked both the expertise and the credibility to oversee the needed adjustment programs on its own. Geithner was right, but there was no obvious way for Europe to “fix it” alone. That was the basis for the original argument that external—IMF—involvement was required.

The exposure of profound economic and political flaws in Europe came as a gigantic shock. Several central and eastern European countries—starting with Hungary and Latvia—had sought support from the International Monetary Fund, a move that initially caused some resentment in Brussels and in Paris. But those were small, emerging market countries, erstwhile transition economies that French President Jacques Chirac had once memorably castigated for their “not well brought up behavior.” But in 2010, the crisis began sweeping through countries that were supposed to have “graduated”—countries for which membership in the euro area and the EU had seemed a guarantee of good and responsible governance.

Rich European (and North American) countries had no experience of their own with the capital markets crises that had regularly devastated emerging markets and developing economies. French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou: “Forget the IMF! The IMF is not for Europe. It is for Africa—for Burkina Faso!” Or as Sarkozy’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde, delicately put it, “We would have preferred to have [handled] it within the Eurozone.” But at German insistence, after debate, after recriminations and accompanied by incendiary political rhetoric, Europe eventually swallowed its pride and called in the IMF.

rious as a doom loop. The global financial threat from Europe called for an institution such as the IMF, with its global mandate, to find an appropriate policy response.

The outbreak of the European crisis caught the IMF in a credibility trap. After May 2010, Europe represented the single largest source of systemic vulnerability in the world and consequently the largest threat to global recovery from the financial crisis. The IMF needed the European programs to work, not only to demonstrate its successful management of operations but also to counter the criticism—already quite prominent in the Board’s discussion on 9 May 2010—that the IMF was being hijacked by European governments.

The very large scale of the programs, when measured as a share of quota, was unprecedented. As a result, the Fund could not easily walk away without facing the charge of betraying the Europeans and itself. It was imprisoned as a result of its initial engagement and trapped with relatively limited resources. That dilemma occurs in the case of every large program, and since Mexico in 1995 and the East Asian crisis in 1997/98, the IMF had worked with bilateral lending from neighboring countries.

Traditionally, the IMF has often served as a whipping boy—a force from the outside to deliver uncomfortable and unpopular advice and to relieve the burden on national authorities entrapped by promises they have made, often in electoral campaigns. That too is a familiar situation from almost every episode in IMF crisis-lending, with national officials whispering one thing to external advisers and then complaining in public about the harsh conditions they imposed on the country but to which there was “no alternative”. In Europe, the situation was even more complex because the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) were frequently seen in the same way. Indeed, some Northern European countries wanted and needed the IMF as an ally because it was tougher than the Commission or the central bank.

In consequence, the Fund tended to

the IMF’s interventions: “Under the Articles of Agreement, the Fund’s general resources may only be used to resolve a member’s balance-of-payments problem.” In the European cases, there were indeed balance-of-payments problems— deficits that could not be financed by the market—but they looked different from “normal” Fund cases because those imbalances might conceivably be financed by central bank credit. The deeper problem seemed to be connected to a fiscal issue, since it was governments that could not finance themselves. The critical next step was to investigate new ways of integrating the supranational regional institutions in future policy formulation.

The second lesson that the IMF learned had to do with the particular institutional origins of the crisis in different European countries. Corruption had rarely been addressed as a specific issue at the outset of the programs, but its shadow fell over much of the question of both program design and implementation. By 2019, corruption had become the major focus of the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor. That report documented how “a complex and opaque tax system enables corruption by requiring more discretion in its administration and by facilitating hidden corrupt dealings.” However, even that document found it hard to give specifics about particular cases of inadequate reform, though it included case studies of successful anti-corruption initiatives from Georgia, Rwanda, and Estonia. The euro crisis was a profound shock to European self-understanding. Europe could not work out its own rescue mechanism, and the European leaders brought in the IMF less as a source of financial resources than as a provider of professionalism and an outside vision of how to accomplish economic reform. The Nobel Prize-winning French economist Jean Tirole some time ago described the IMF and other international institutions as “delegated monitors”. But the monitors were often used as part of a mechanism of blame transference, and their political capital

began to erode. And then, perhaps unsurprisingly, Europeans became frustrated with the outcome.

The course of the crisis destroyed a good deal of the participants’ credibility. But a learning process set in. Most positively the experience demonstrated that Europe needed a better governance structure and a more elaborate financial architecture, including single banking supervision, a resolution mechanism, and a rescue fund organised along IMF lines. In an institutional mimesis, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) began to evolve into something like a European Monetary Fund. So, on the institutional side, much was learned. But there had been substantial political damage.

The euro is divisive because it looks like a straitjacket. And external constraints establish a psychological way of shifting blame. When the policy that results from those external constraints does not produce growth, then the euro, once a dream, is reinterpreted as a nightmare of entrapment. When wages went up despite the external constraint and growth faltered, there was no way out. The euro thus appears in a narrative of allocating blame, of trapping Southern Europe into a low-competitiveness scenario. And in the same analysis, France suffered from the story that the French elite told when they wanted to join the single currency— namely that a strong franc, nicely labeled the “franc fort” to evoke Germany’s financial center, would boost the economy.

The financial crisis produced in many, but not all, European countries greater suspicion of the other European countries. Sometimes Germany is portrayed as the major beneficiary of the euro—especially in Southern Europe. But Germans now do not see the trade gains, especially when Southern Europe is buying fewer German exports, automobiles and machine tools, as consumption and investment have both collapsed. They see instead the financial claims building up in the European banks’ payments system, the TARGET2 balances that result from the counterpart to money transfers to the southern banking system.

In Germany and many Northern and Eastern European countries, journalists, politicians and voters blamed Southern European profligacy. In Greece, Italy and Ireland, many turned against what they saw as a new bid for German hegemony, imposed through a cruel fiscal diktat designed to undermine and destroy Germany’s rivals. In the French presidential campaign of 2017, both the radical-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, and the radical-left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, ran on heavily anti-German platforms. Le Pen explained that Chancellor Angela Merkel was bringing refugees into Europe to work as slave labour for the German economy. Melenchon, who won 19.6 percent of the votes in the first round (Le Pen had 21.3 percent), had written a book entitled The Bismarck Herring, or The German Poison, in which he argued that the way Germany was treating Greece was just an anticipation of the way Angela Merkel would deal with France.

A clear polarisation and a rejection of conventional politics followed from the global financial crisis and affected almost every European country. (Only in Switzerland, outside the EU, did the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party’s share of the vote fall—slightly—between 2007 and 2011, but then it increased again in 2015). The pattern actually seems less dramatic in many of the crisis countries than in the non-crisis countries, where a powerful driver of populism on the right was complaints about the fiscal costs of the euro

rescue. In Greece, Syriza increased its vote from 4.6 percent in 2009 to 26.9 percent in the second 2012 election, and to 36.3 in the January 2015 election, when it swept into power. But over the next six months, it morphed away from populism and became a standard centre-left party—a successor to the discredited PASOK. The populist right-wing party ANEL declined dramatically from 2012 to 2015, while the much more radical neo-fascist Golden Dawn was stable.

In Ireland, the populist left-wing party Sinn Fein, heir to the most dramatic version of Irish nationalism, increased its vote, but came nowhere near to a largeenough share to push it into government (2007, 6.9 percent; 2011, 9.9 percent; 2016, 13.8 percent) until it achieved the largest share of the vote, with 24.5 percent, in the 2020 election.

Spain’s left-wing populist party, Podemos, emerged suddenly in the 2014 European elections and gained 20.7 percent of the vote in the 2015 Spanish parliamentary election.

The most devastating outcome of populist momentum occurred outside the euro area, when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. There is a substantial irony in the way that frustration about the euro area drove a harder populism outside it than within it. And in those cases, in the United Kingdom and in Hungary and Poland, the disruption to civil society and to the rule of law was substantial and much more significant than any purely economic disruption.

A much more powerful driver of Northern European populism—apparent also in the success of the right-wing Lega Party in Italy—is concern about immigration, especially the immigration of Muslims, which flared up after the refugee crisis. Some German commentators including, rather oddly, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, claimed that a significant part of the vote for the radical right AfD— Schäuble said half, but offered no evidence to underpin the statistic—was made up of German savers protesting against the low-interest rate regime of the ECB.

The classical cycle of populism in Latin America in the late twentieth century, diagnosed above all by Rudiger Dornbusch and Sebastian Edwards, does not apply to most European cases of populism. The Latin American pattern saw a new heterodox program formulated as a rejection of a previous stabilisation—often one involving


The book explores the IMF’s engagement in Europe in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, and especially after 2010. It explains how, why, and with what consequences the International Monetary Fund—along with the European Central Bank and the European Commission (together known as “the troika”)—supported adjustment programs in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus as well as helping to monitor Spain’s adjustment program and exploring modalities for supporting Italy.

Additionally, it analyses how the euro-area developments interacted with and affected the rest of Europe, including not only eastern and southeastern Europe but also the United Kingdom, where the political fallout from post-financial crisis populism—in the form of “Brexit” from the European Union—was, in the end, the most extreme.

the IMF. The heterodox program produces some short-lived successes but then inflation rises and scarcities appear, requiring protectionism and wage and price-control measures. In a further phase, inflation rises dramatically, real wages plunge, there is large-scale capital flight and the economy collapses. Then a new IMF-led stabilization plan is needed.

One of the striking features of the European debt crisis is that, while populist parties in power did indeed erode and evade previous fiscal limits, their policies were successful for longer than just the short time frame of the Dornbusch-Edwards cycle. There is no sense in which markets are punishing right-wing populists in Hungary and Poland; and Portugal, with a left-wing populist government and a substantial recovery, is often (and in an exaggerated fashion) hailed as a miracle case.

The increased longevity of fiscal populism reflects the consequences of a low interest rate regime throughout the world: monetary conditions are closely correlated, and US policy has a considerable influence. Cheap borrowing makes greater fiscal deficits into an effectively free lunch. There is clearly a threat of renewed instability when and if monetary conditions turn.

More generally, a great deal of political capital was invested in the euro rescue, as leaders insisted over and over again that rescuing the euro was vital for the survival of the European Union. As a financial maneuver, the strategy worked. Market bets that the euro area would collapse were effectively countered. But over time Europe’s political capital was substantially eroded. Ten years after the outbreak of the European debt crisis, the European Union seemed more vulnerable.

The coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and then Russia’s war on Ukraine in 2022 raised many of the issues that had been left unresolved in the European debt crisis: the fiscal capacity of member states of the European Union, the extent to which a severe problem in one or more large countries could shake the Union, the limits of monetary policy responses, and the desirability of a European-level fiscal stabiliser. The euro area crisis had left a revulsion against the principle of conditionality. As Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez put it, countries did not want the troika of IMF, ECB, and the European Commission —or “men in black”—anymore.

The IMF’s European programs embroiled the Fund in numerous controversies over the exceptionally large lending, over whether or not to impose losses on private creditors, and over the mix between external financing and internal adjustment undertaken by program countries. They also required the IMF to confront longstanding questions about its governance and evenhandedness in the treatment of different segments of its membership.

The crisis programs, with Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus, all revolved around debt sustainability. In the Greek case, after an intense internal debate, the IMF initially chose a program without debt reduction because it feared that such a program—even if ultimately in the interests of Greece, the client country—would trigger a panic of banks and other creditors and thus generate contagion for the rest of Europe.

Learning from the Greek case, in Ireland and Portugal the IMF pushed for debt reduction, to which the government in Ireland but not in Portugal was sympathetic. There was thus no private-sector debt reduction in Ireland and Portugal. The European programs were caught up in big geopolitical debates about the appropriate role of the Fund in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The book examines the intellectual and policy shifts that took place in the IMF as a result of the controversies about its European programs. It concludes with some reflections on how all the programs also produced genuine policy reform and held out the possibility of a return to growth and prosperity.

The European Central Bank, Frankfurt: Too complex? Worryingly unstable?
The European Central Bank (19190136328).jpg / Wikimedia Commons / Keifer

Architectural Book Awards 2024

Once again, Booklaunch is delighted to be sponsoring the Architectural Book Awards, which we launched to great acclaim a year ago. The awards honour excellence in architectural publishing, recognising groundbreaking additions to our understanding of the architectural profession’s achievements.

We were gratified this year to be inundated with submissions from publishers wishing to see their books commended. We in turn have shortlisted the titles that most impressed us under five headings: monographs (thematic introductions), portfolios (the collections of named architects), guides (advisory books), treatises (works of history and theory) and travelogues (guides to places), with a total of 32 titles in all — more than double the number we celebrated in 2023.

As before, our panel of judges remains anonymous: our aim is to focus on the books submitted to us, rather than the individuals invited to assess them, both because of possible conflicts of interest and because celebrity judges often outshine the authors whose work is being scrutinised. We want to keep the spotlight fixed firmly on the books and their writers.

Last July, the Zaha Hadid Foundation generously hosted our awards ceremony. We will be announcing the winners of each shortlisting category, as well as the overall Architectural Book of the Year Award, at this summer’s ceremony. The event will take place in London and we invite subscribers to Booklaunch to book their tickets early, so they can come along and cheer.


Shortlisted: Monographs

How would you sum up this country’s Anglican cathedrals? Eight years ago, Janet Gough, then Director of the Church of England’s Buildings Division, wrote 42 pen portraits of the CoE’s mighty heritage; now she has asked all its Welsh and English deans—the senior administrators—to nominate one element treasured over the years by their individual bishoprics. The resulting book, ranging from the misericords at Chester to foliate carving at Southwell, is a feast for the eyes (thanks to photographer Marcus Green). That must vex the Catholic Church, their original owner; and yet no one in the CoE feels guilty for not handing these riches back. But then Rome isn’t Athens or Benin, so the’re ours. For now. Japanese houses are often thought of as precious jewels (though weighing in at 2.5kgs, Naomi Pollock’s book about them isn’t). In the 1950s they provided cautious answers to the question of Japan’s postwar reconstruction and, in his foreword, the celebrated architect Tadao Ando refers to the high ideals of architecture at the time. Since then, he adds, “life has changed at an accelerated pace” and “the pages in the latter half of this book present a state of chaos.” They do indeed. “In Japan anything goes,” Pollock says. Even the address system is haywire because houses are numbered in the order they were built, not by adjacency. On the other hand, Japanese distaste for close physical proximity—most Japanese houses don’t touch or have shared party walls—means they can be easily torn down, typically after only 26 years, and this short shelf-life encourages architectural experimentation. So does modesty: houses in cities are typically only 100 square metres—1,080 square feet—meaning experimentation also doesn’t cost so much. Fascinating.

For the last ten years, London architect Chris Romer-Lee has specialised in the restoration of historic outdoor swimming baths and makes much of the joy to be got from sheltered tidal pools, protected from waves but still nourished by saltwater and marine life. He has also become involved in a project to make the Thames safe for Londoners to swim in, a subject he gave a TED-type talk about in 2015—and now comes his book, an exploration of what he calls the 66 most astounding community-serving tidal pools anywhere in the world. Starting with a whistle-stop history of outdoor bathing in Britain, Australia and South Africa, the book continues with double-page spreads on saltwater miracles from Kwa-Zulu Natal to Taiwan and Laguna Beach. The judges agreed they’d never thought of artificial tidal basins as architectural in the way that swimming pools are—but of course they are, and we feel enriched.

Romer-Lee believes in the therapeutic value of wild swimming. Courtenay Smith and Sean Topham believe in the therapeutic value of wild housing. The two deny having any architectural credentials (“we are not designers, engineers or builders. We are two curious homeowners with a belief in the power of imagination to make life better”) but that’s slightly disingenuous: she’s a freelance art curator; he’s a writer on design. No matter: they have produced a manifesto for saving the world based on 19 design strategies (Assimilate; Burrow; Float; Reuse; etc etc) that mix ancient building techniques with new technology. They do this by quoting 152 projects by 124 architectural firms around the world in a monograph packed with photos. The photos are smaller than in our other submissions, but then there’s a lot of world that needs saving.


Batsford, 1st edition 13 October 2022

Hardcover, 304 pages


RRP £25.00


Batsford, 1st edition 3 August 2023

Hardcover, 192 pages


RRP £25.00





Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers

12 November 2022

Softback, 112 pages


RRP £14.95





Thames and Hudson, 1st edition

21 September 2023

Hardcover, 320 pages


RRP £50.00



Thames and Hudson, 1st edition

15 September 2022

Hardcover, 256 pages


RRP £25.00




Thames and Hudson, 1st edition

12 October 2023

Hardcover, 400 pages


RRP £60.00



Thames and Hudson, 1st edition

12 October 2023

Hardcover, 256 pages


RRP £50.00




Batsford 11 April 2024

Hardcover, 208 pages


RRP £25.00

Sounds as if it was written for men, said one of our judges about Station, and it’s true that the appeal of railways tends to be gendered (Hornby Dublo trainsets were definitely a no-girl zone). But to this boyishness, author Christopher Beanland adds a layer of jokey laddishness. Such informality may suit the mood of The Guardian, for which he writes; whether it’s meaningful in a book (“Charles Holden stations are enough to make you spit out your tea”) is less uncertain; and saying “kind of” five times in seven pages grates, whatever your gender. This matters, in a book, because readers should not have to decide whether an author’s remarks can be relied on (is it true that the architectural firm of Farrells has “basically rebuilt China”?) That said, if you feel that such lightheartedness makes a welcome change from the usual monotone prose of train books, then this is a fabulous collection of railway architecture photographs, and therefore worthy of note.

William Smalley opened his architect’s practice in Bloomsbury in 2010 and has now completed 20 homes, all designed with a simple lucidity that positions him squarely on the spectrum of cool Northern European modernism. His new book (described by Edmund de Waal as “lambent”) could have been categorised in our shortlisting as a portfolio, were it not for his including examples of other architects’ work—and what architects! Barragán, Palladio, Zumthor, Geoffrey Bawa (twice) and Leslie Martin, as well as Barbara Hepworth’s garden. It’s good to keep company with the best and, in this case, Smalley completely pulls it off. There is a consistency of tone that goes right across his work and that of his mentors, and that fulfils the abstract qualities of space and quietness to which his buildings—and this book—aspire.

The 50 buildings in The Iconic British House cross a wider range of architecture than Smalley’s, as one would expect in a book that spans one-and-a-quarter centuries, though its author—Dominic Bradbury—suggests they share a unique British identity. As judges, we weren’t sure: maybe we look to these buildings to define Britishness and then treat them as examples of our definition. Besides, the fact that Voysey and Summerson are quoted as calling for a new British mood in architecture suggests that there isn’t, or wasn’t, one. The essayist Alain de Botton complicates the question further, in his foreword, by regretting the whole concept of iconic houses. “The achievement of the Georgians was to devise standardised designs that could be rolled out in the hundreds of thousands,” he says. That the 23.7 million houses not featured here are less worthy should leave us “a little angry”, he says, but also inspired. “Why aren’t these sorts of jewels on offer everywhere?” Why indeed.

Until her unexpected death last year, Elain Harwood had dominated the chronicling of post-war British architecture, whether in her research work for English Heritage (now Historic England) under Andrew Saint or in her work for the statutory campaign group, the Twentieth Century Society. She also authored over 25 books, some in partnership with Alan Powers, and lectured widely. Brutalist Britain, published just before she died, is probably her swan song and the judges felt it stood as a monograph about her as much as its subject. What may surprise the reader is Harwood’s own brutalism: not one for the genteel, she describes Brutalism as, in essence, “good looks” plus “commercial budget”. That’s rare.

Shortlist: Portfolios

Living Tradition comes endorsed by someone called “HRH The Former Prince of Wales”—that’s the King, surely—and is written by Clive Aslet, a former editor of Country Life. Like that bible of the landed classes, Aslet’s writing pulls back the curtain on a world few of us know anything about—the revived neo-Georgian culture of the architectural establishment, now cast by HRH as the architecture of timelessness. Its poster boy, in this portfolio collection, is Hugh Petter, known throughout as “Hugh”, one of the first students at the King’s Institute of Architecture, now a director of the architectural firm ADAM. Petter’s projects include an extension to the British School at Rome, originally designed in 1911 by Edwin Lutyens, who is the subject of another book by Aslet. That book’s subtitle—“Britain’s Greatest Architect?”, with a question mark—invites the comment that Lutyens built almost nothing in Scotland and is therefore much more an English phenomenon. His work has long been well documented but, as the touchstone for English anti-modernism, he continues to fascinate. Aslet’s book ably introduces new readers to an architect often appraised by others but refreshingly unable to appraise himself.

Aslet notes Lutyens’s ability to sum up the national mood in his buildings. Architecture as mood is the focus of Christine Madrid French’s book on the architectural settings of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, where the films’ impact depends on director and audience having a shared understanding of what any given building means. This was necessary, suggests French, because film audiences can withhold their custom; building users have no such freedom, allowing architects to be more doctrinaire but also more stranded.

Enter the architect Neave Brown. Brown didn’t think he was detached—he had a highly developed social conscience and attempted great buildings within the confines of the Welfare State—but, unlike Hitchcock, tended not to carry the public with him. As Patrick Lynch points out in Part of a City, attacks on Brown could border on the libellous; Ken Livingstone, before becoming mayor, tried to sue Camden for design faults on Brown’s Alexandra Road estate. In spite of performance problems, Brown was revered by many, as this book’s testimonies make clear; but his public legacy remains contested.

The Czech firm of Chybik + Kristof is antipathetic to British conservatism right down to its name (and the plus sign: what’s wrong with “and” or the humble ampersand?). In this portfolio, each project is made to talk about itself in the first person (“Through my open frame …”), a contrivance that amused but baffled the judges. Was this an attempt to anthropomorphise buildings or merely a Czech literary trope, reminiscent of Hašek and Kafka? Whatever the answer, we enjoyed the challenge of questioning the architects’ authorship. Isn’t that the purpose of “abroad”: to alert us to the unfamiliar?

In a book of 100 architects’ work, it’s a stretch to come up with a safe generalisation. The authors couldn’t even think of a good title and say they aren’t wholly happy with 100 Women (is it factual, is it provocative, is it both?) What bothers them also is the ring-fencing of women for being women, and the possible use of their book to prove that industry prejudice against women architects no longer exists—an ambition which, like Zeno’s paradox, will surely always defeat itself.





University of Virginia Press 30 September 2022

Softback, 274 pages


RRP £25.95





Triglyph Books 5 October 2023

Hardcover, 320 pages


RRP £50.00



Triglyph Books 16 May 2024

Hardcover, 256 pages


RRP £20.00





Frame Publishers, 1st edition, 7 December 2023

Softback, 272 pages 9789492311603

RRP £49.00




Canalside Press 18 November 2022

Hardcover, 416 pages


RRP £38.00




RIBA Publishing, 1st edition 1 December 2023)

Hardcover, 320 pages


RRP £50.00

Shortlist: Guides

After many years on the naughty step, medium-rise flats are again being built with open-air corridors connecting them, say the two authors of The Deck Access Housing Design Guide. If that’s so, architects had better do a better job than they did in the 1970s and 80s, when “streets in the sky” were blamed for all manner of social ills. This book shows them how. Either side of 100 pages of case studies is a brief history of deck access and a 35-page manual. Will greater awareness and better standards improve things? That the book identifies six benefits but ten challenges might cause any client to hesitate.

Will Jones’s guide to cabin-making is so much a part of the North-American backwoods tradition that it even quotes sizes in imperial measure (though metric equivalents follow). Pap’s wooden lodge in Huckleberry Finn fascinated Jones as a boy, then the bothies and shepherd huts written about by hill walkers, but it’s Stewart Brand (referred to also on page 14) who seems really to be the presiding spirit here—Brand or Thoreau, for this story of how a London-based architectural journalist retreated to the Canadian wilderness is a contender to become our generation’s Walden

When lockdown first hit, ecologists rejoiced: after years of ineffectual protest, their dream of a stay-at-home culture seemed close to realisation. Then worries grew about the falling value of empty town centres, and home workers were enticed to return to the office. Now High Street argues that town centres must regenerate, given that 75,000 stores have closed in the last five years, and quotes 15 success stories from Exeter to Dundee where the lifeblood is flowing again. Oddly, though, it also claims there isn’t a crisis and that the churn of chains and independents is all part of the high street’s richness and resilience. So, crisis or no crisis?

Why do female employees outnumber males in some professions? Are their hiring systems stacked against men? Maybe. Maybe not. In the case of Architecture, though, where males outnumber females, Sumita Singha puts it down to discrimination. As judges (yes, we’re gender-balanced), we weren’t sure about this and whether men, or systems created by men, continue to hold women back. We thought women put a healthier emphasis on work-life balance and refuse to accept the glamorous but crazy demands by which men risk their well-being. Thrive thinks otherwise and has won praise, so we’ve included it here. It certainly deserves further investigation.

Most of us have only ever seen photographs of the buildings we sound off about. That ought to disqualify us from having opinions, because photography misrepresents as much as it represents. (Even your estate agent now knows how wide-angle low-level shots make interiors look bigger.) Martine Hamilton Knight is less worried about this when it is done by professionals; what bothers her is that with digital editing, everyone now wants to get in on the act, leading to a range of problems, some ethical, some legal. Interestingly, Photography for Architects makes the case for “curated image-making”.

Jeff Kovel’s Skylab: The Nature of Things is more like a 33rpm box set than a book, and as full of ideas as a concept album. Hard to write about (hard to read too: some of the texts run sideways, in light green ink), it’s a beautiful object that needs to be handled, and turned over, and turned over again. Pass the spliff, man.



RIBA Publishing, 1st edition 15 November 2023

Softback, 176 pages


RRP £35.00



Thames and Hudson, 1st edition, 24 August 2023

Hardcover, 256 pages


RRP £20.00



Thames and Hudson, 1st edition

27 July 2023

Hardcover, 304 pages


RRP £50.00

Check our website for discount




Routledge, 1st edition 19 January 2024

Softback, 452 pages 9781032189116

RRP £31.99



Routledge, 1st edition 10 February 2023

Softback, 202 pages 9781032218953

RRP £34.99



RIBA Publishing, 1st edition 7 July 2023

Softback, 224 pages 9781914124303

RRP £40.00

Shortlist: Treatises

Architects often say that buildings are their own form of argument: that architectural form is as much a type of proposition as a statement in words. For the Philosophy category of the awards, the judges found that although pictures of buildings can give evidence of a set of values—as Elain Harwood’s book on Brutalism does—what finally matters is the couching of ideas in words.

That’s something that greatly concerns Frank Lyons, who maintains that our likes and dislikes are a lot more objective than we imagine, and that notions of beauty can in fact be articulated, a belief that many shy away from. Lyons invokes C.P. Snow here, as one who was bothered by the “false” disjunction between the arts and the sciences.

Nicholas Ray, by contrast, takes a step back and observes disagreements about argumentation without participating in them. The peg for his ideas is Summerson, who argued, ambiguously, that architecture has its own type of literacy but that modern architecture speaks in a language that reflects other things than itself—its cultural, technological and social contexts—prompting Robin Schuldenfrei to home in on “Modernism” as a quintessentially American phenomenon that some European (and particularly German) pioneers took and adapted and then repatriated to America, where they made it flourish as never before, after being exiled by the Nazis.

Each of the six books chosen by the judges for the Philosophy shortlist hangs on a different hook. Amanda Reeser Lawrence questions conventional ideas about originality and inspiration. Citing the literary critic Harold Bloom, she suggests that our habit of attributing inventions to precursors would be better conceived in terms of how the new redefines the old—and how it does so continuously.

Benedict Zucchi’s starting point is Alberti’s metaphor about cities being like houses, and houses being like cities, and how different scales of built spaces shape the different ways we engage with each other. Kevin Nute’s peg is Stewart Brand, now almost forgotten as one of the 1960s’ most prodigiously wise counter-culturalists, and argues instead that architects overstate their buildings’ relationship with space and need to be more aware of how buildings shape (and can be made to shape) our sense of time—an existential notion that may be something we notice more as we grow older.

The judges were impressed by all six books. Of the six, the Schuldenfrei and Lawrence volumes were the most attractive volumes—solid hardbacks: easy to hold and turn the pages of—while the Lawrence and Ray had the advantage of being set in a serif font, which made them the easiest to read.

With regard to the writing, we were struck by the fact that Nute’s was the only polemic; he really wants to change how architecture is practised and brings his own exercises in neuropsychology into play, to illustrate the interplay of buildings and notions of temporality. Ray adds a couple of paragraphs at the very end of his book on the consequences of Hume and Kant for architectural education but quickly confesses that he has no wish to promote a view.

That leaves four books that are well aware of how design is practised but leave it either as a matter of historical interest or as something we should understand because it’s good to be literate (in a human way) about the environment we inhabit. “The unexamined life,” etc, etc.



Routledge, 1st edition 8 February 2023

Softback, 298 pages


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Routledge, 1st edition 1 March 2024

Softback, 196 pages


RRP £31.99


Check our website for discount


Routledge, 1st edition 15 September 2023

Softback, 306 pages


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University of Virginia Press 11 October 2023

Hardcover, 376 pages


RRP £47.48



Princeton University Press 23 January 2024

Hardcover, 352 pages 9780691232669

RRP £55.00



Routledge, 1st edition 15 October 2018

Softback, 248 pages


RRP £39.99

Shortlist: Travelogues

Owen Hatherley was the overall winner of last year’s Architectural Book Awards; could he win a second time? In his new book, he once again follows the lead of urban theorist Jane Jacobs who said the only way to understand a city is to walk it, but brings to his perambulations a wealth of knowledge and common sense and a fluidity of speech. For us, he’s the 21st-century’s John Ruskin. But is his walking technique safe? Lewis Mumford would never have analysed New York this way and, as he confesses on page 95, “there is only so much you can learn from spending an hour walking about a place in daylight.”

California Houses looks like a coffee-table book but it’s more subversive than that. It doesn’t capture the spirit of California, as it says on the tin, but then how could 36 palazzi of the pampered do so? It does, however, have a very engaging critical backbone. The author says of Los Angeles that its affordable sites are rare, nimbyism pervasive and planning department sclerotic, while San Francisco, “is as conservative in its aesthetics as it is progressive in its politics” with a narcissiastic gentrification that “chokes off” invention. The buildings shown here are therefore exceptions, not examples. Good.

Fifty years after it opened, Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House remains one of the most enigmatic buildings of the modern age. Nothing like it had ever been built, and few knock-offs, not even by Gehry, have achieved what it achieved. How it got built is a story that deserves retelling, not least as a reminder that building problems such as those that led to Utzon’s resigning should never in themselves invalidate a project. The building remains a triumphant testament to Utzon and the team who realised his genius, and visitors will enjoy this handy guide.

Covid and internet buying have hastened the sell-off and bankruptcies of high-street stores, prompting the 20th-Century Society to explore their past achievements and options for the future. The society’s 100 20th-Century Shops is therefore both a book about architecture and social history, celebrating originality—Covell Matthews’ concrete knuckle sandwich for the northern Co-op in Aberdeen and Israeli engineer Eliahu Traum’s upswept concrete umbrellas for the Huddersfield Corp’s Queensgate Market—but also questioning how to use buildings that are no longer valued.

Let’s be clear: George Handel and Jimi Hendrix have nothing in common. Handel never wowed crowds with his guitar virtuosity though King George II did stand, apparently in awe, at the first performance of the Hallelujah chorus, establishing a tradition that survives to this day. Both, however, lived in the same house in Mayfair until their deaths. That house is now a museum and, like its souvenir guide, offers a distilled history of the two musicians and the building that links them.

Dulwich is an affluent South-London village hemmed in by less characterful Victorian suburbs. It owes its survival to land-ownership. In 1619 the Elizabethan actor and businessman Edward Alleyn founded the College of God’s Gift, out of which emerged the Dulwich Estate, which maintained whatever freehold land wasn’t handed to other charities. The RIBA’s new book documents the 31 housing estates built by the Estate’s local architect in a 15-year period after the last war, all modest and understated but now regarded as modernist classics, making Dulwich, as the book’s title suggests, a “mid-century oasis”.




Scala Arts & Heritage 5 July 2023

Softback, 80 pages


RRP £9.95





Scala Arts & Heritage, 1st edition 23 May 2022

Softback, 88 pages


RRP £12.95




Batsford, 1st edition 9 November 2023

Hardcover, 256 pages


RRP £27.00





Thames and Hudson, 1st edition

16 May 2024

Hardcover, 304 pages


RRP £45.00




Repeater, 1st edition 11 June 2024

Softback, 280 pages


RRP £10.99




RIBA Publishing, 1st edition 18 September 2023

Softback, 208 pages


RRP £27.00

Lingualia for word nerds

Quiz 18 | Letters of consequence | The winning entries More fun than is healthy. Probably

In our last edition, we invited you to identify words with pairs and trios of consecutive letters in the alphabet, both forwards and in reverse. The sequence AB could be found in, for example, dab or (in reverse) bat but we asked you to be more ambitious. Release your inner poet, we said. And you did, with stunning results! Of all the entries we received, most impressive were those of Tom Johnson from Nantwich, Cheshire with two submissions—one simple, the other geographical—and from Dr. Stephen Watkins, a retired director of public health in Lancs, with a short story. Maybe our quizzes resonate most with those in northern climes; or maybe it was the Christmas weather that kept them at home and in quizzical mood. Congratulations to both, and we’re proud to present their contributions below, together with an invitation that they tell us which EnvelopeBook they’d like as their prize (see


In the following very exciting short story, in which about half of the words meet the criteria for entry into the quiz (two thirds if we ignore a, an, the, and he, his, she her, it, its, if, to and for), relevant letters are marked in bold and/ or italics, and underlined where a letter connects both forwards and backwards, as in “fed”. The alphabet is treated as continuous, so A follows Z.

Of the 78 possible combinations, I have found ordinary words for 64, a proper name for three more, and acronyms or letter combinations used as words for an additional 10 (four of them used as simple words and six of them as proper names). This leaves two for which I have had to fall back on letters in a not-very-well-known company name. I also found two words with four-letter combinations.

I confess to having used Google to find ecbatic (a debate about consequences), ecdemic (the opposite of endemic), pirojki (a Russian fruit bun), PEFGA (Pakistan Export Finance Guarantee Authority), QP (qualified professional in pharmaceuticals), VWX (a chemical), WXmodem (a form of digital communication) and the company names used for BCD and JKL.


The potentate, an edentulous bandicoot, was in the eruv for the sabbath. “Debutantes! Prostitutes! Sexworkers! Feminist revolutionaries! Defenestrate them!” he opined, sipquaffing sickly zythum to a xylophone tune.

“Effective now?” asked the federal police.

He nodded

Donning labcoats, they got stuck into their copquest with calmness, sighing all night in their cars, starstruck by the task.

“Put tsetse flies in hijabs,” suggested one copper.

“Calumnify them to jinx them, zap them with omnopon, oxyzirconium and oxycodone, tar and feather them, then send them out, tarstuck, in an uncalked multihulled ship to the vultures,” a constable said, seizing the helm

“The birds are actually Tuvu,” another corrected him.

“Tuvu are a species of vulture from East Russia,” the first scorned back.

“Stop squabbling now!”

“Can you get the pharmaceuticals?”

“Absolutely. We have our own QP. We can watch the effects on an ECG monitor by following changes in the PQRS segment.”

Meanwhile, the bandicoot, overfed on pork crackling and zabaglione, his nose reddened with coryza, tired from listening to Boyzone, rested. “He’s crazy”, thought a cop, “Feeding on pork in the eruv.” He pondered if a putsch was feasible. His internal ecbatic thoughts wondered if it would be the bandicoot who was despatched across the Styx or whether the cop himself would be sent there in handcuffs. He decided to debrief the marquis’s wife.

Anecdotally, the marchioness was renowned for being flighty, even luvward. Summoned, she left her bijou flat in Redcar, with its azure stucco exterior, her decrepit VW car aided by a towvan borrowed from BCD Logistics Ltd, for

Teesside Airport. Wearing an embroidered T-shirt from JKL Clothing, she left her Afghan with a dog sitter, flashguns and inkjet cartridges for the binman and alms for the poor, to fly by KLM to Amsterdam and visit the Rijksmuseum.

Then she continued to her homeland, eating a pirojki. She scanned QR codes, sent via WXmodem by her contact in PEFGA. She used them to mapquest for drumlins where hidden weapons were stored. She hated QRs but needs must. Her unopened luggage offgassed from the cashewxylem in the fabric. It contained an obconical bagful of hydroxyzaratite, which was ecdemic to her homeland, and was coated with VWX

So, the flighty nondefenestrated marchioness and the grizzled turncoat cop dethroned the hated power-crazy misogynist bandicoot and everyone lived contentedly thereafter.

AB Sabbath

BC Obconical

CD Anecdotally

DE Debutante

EF Debrief

FG Offgassed

GH Flighty

HI Ship IJ Bijou

JK Pirojki

KL Sickly

LM Helm MN Calumnify

NO Nodded

OP Opined

PQ Mapquest


RS Cars

ST Prostitutes

TU Edentulous

UV Eruv

VW VW (cars)

WX WX (modem)

XY Oxycodone

YZ Boyzone

AZ Zap


BA Bandicoot

CB Ecbatic

DC Handcuffs

ED Reddened

FE Feminist

GF Bagful

HG Flashguns

IH Multihulled

JI Jinx

KJ Inkjet

LK Uncalked

ML Drumlins

NM Binman

ON Revolutionaries

PO Potentate

QP QP (pharma)

RQ Marquis

SR Disrupt

TS Tsetse

UT Putsch

VU Vultures

WV Towvan

XW Sexworkers

YX Styx

ZY Zythum

AZ Azure

ABC Labcoat

BCD BCD Logistics Ltd

CDE Ecdemic

DEF Defenestrate


FGH Afghan

GHI Sighing

HIJ Hijab

IJK Rijksmuseum

JKL JKL Clothing

KLM KLM Airlines

LMN Calmness

MNO Omnopon

NOP Unopened

OPQ Copquest



RST Starstruck

RSTU Tarstuck

STU Stucco

TUV Tuvu

UVW Luvward

VWX VWX (Vectorworks)

WXY Cashewxylem

XYZ Oxyzirconium

XYZA Hydroxyzaratite

XYZA Coryza

XYZA Zabaglione


Ab (singular of abs), De (as in de minimis, de jure etc), Ed (common shortening of editor), Hi, Op, Po (word invented by Edward de Bono for use in one of his thinking modes)


WORDS MADE SOLELY OF QUALIFYING COMBINATIONS Abed, Deed, Defers, Fed, Feed, Hijab, Oppo, Poop, Pooped


Four Debriefed

Six Defenestrated

Eight Non-defenestrated (albeit hyphenated)


Deed, Oppo, Deferred (and the past tense of most verbs starting “de”), Potentiation.


Antidisestablishmentarianism Forethoughtfulnesses contains Floccinaucinihilipilification Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (ironically, the fear of long words)

Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylalanyl … isoleucine (the chemical name for the largest known protein, titin, and 189,819 letters long)









ABC Dabchick

AB Fabulous BC Slabcake














Nasturtium TU Magnitude UV Rejuvenation VW WX

XY Orthodoxy YZ Wayzgoose

BA Tabard CB Macbeth DC Madcap ED Cedilla FE Housewife GF Wrongfully HG Nashgab IH Trihedron JI Jittery KJ Reykjavik LK Folklore ML Gormless NM Conman ON Typhoon PO Reportage QP RQ Turquoise SR Misrepresent TS Bolts UT Nuts VU Invulnerability WV XW Paxwax YX Coccyx ZY Breezy


CDE MacDermot

DEF Indefatigable


FGH Afghani

GHI Laughing

HIJ Hijacking

IJK Rijksmuseum


LMN Calmness

MNO Somnolence

NOP Inoperative

OPQ Top-quality



RST Superstructure

STU Costumier TUV Tuvalu UVW



* Qrendi is a town in Malta ** Monopoly could have been used five times for NO, ON, NOP, OP and PO.

WORDS WITH CONSECUTIVE CONSONANTS Six Catchphrase Five Crwth (a Welsh violin or a swelling) Four Strength, Surprisingly, Thoroughly, Thoughtfully Three and four Jobsworths


AB Aberystwyth

BC Ribchester

CD Macduff

DE Dundee

EF Sheffield

FG Treffgarne GH Birmingham HI Worthing IJ Fiji JK KL Shanklin LM Balmoral MN Drumnadrochit NO Northampton OP Poplar PQ QR Qrendi RS Pershore ST Berkhamsted TU Tullamore UV Louvain VW WX

XY Buxy YZ Kyrgyzstan

BA Bath


DC Tadcaster

ED Edinburgh

FE Fife

GF Chingford

HG Fishguard

IH Solihull

JI Beijing

KJ Reykjavik

LK Folkestone

ML Amlwch

NM Monmouth

ON London

PO Liverpool


RQ Torquay

SR Israel

TS Knutsford

UT Uttoxeter

VU Davultar

WV Ebbw Vale

XW Ixworth

YX Styx


PLACE NAMES WITH CONSECUTIVE CONSONANTS Eight Aberystwyth Six Knightsbridge, Church Stretton, Machynlleth Five Amlwch


K.J. Kelly on writing the funniest Irish novel to come out of Surrey in 100 years

A second-generationer addresses ‘cultural appropriation’

No one finds it odder than I do that my first novel, A Girls’ Own War, turned out to be a comedy. It is, after all, set in a deeply troubled time and place and is being read in equally troubling circumstances. Who, in their right mind, finds conflict, poverty and desperation funny?

The novel certainly didn’t start out that way. I have family connections with County Cork, and with good people who put me up during my school holidays and put up with my mischief-making, without ever mentioning a word to my parents. I ran as wild then as I do in my imagination now—and that’s the problem, because my story of a small coastal town near the very southern tip of Ireland in 1940, overwhelmed my usual means of story-telling. And not for a minute would I want to patronise them. It’s a truism that fact is stranger than fiction. One of my characters in wartime neutral Eire is John Betjeman, who would go on to become Britain’s poet laureate. I could not—or would not—have invented his presence there; I have no wish to create false history. But there he trod, or bicycled, writing to his Irish muse, Emily, commiserating with her being stranded with a “stone-age” people.

There were other equally unlikely but entirely historical characters who washed up on the spit of land that is Ballingore, West Cork. In passing, these included Royal Naval Flight Arm officers who crashlanded and were interned on Ireland’s non-combatant soil, as well as sundry German submariners and the blackmailing brother of Brendan Bracken, Churchill’s parliamentary private secretary.

As with Prospero’s island, what brought them there—a spell-induced storm or the dogs of war—is mere device. But for a while, a year after the war with Hitler had begun, Ballingore was a dramatic spot, for Britain and for Germany, both deeply involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, and for the people who lived there.

Among them was my father, the wee’st of wee boys in 1940. If asked, I’d say the inspiration for A Girl’s Own War was the photo of him, in blackface, with a dish of exotic fruit on his turbaned head. He is seen attending upon a group of moustachioed young men, in “Arabic drapes”, performing a pantomime at Ballingore House, the estate of the Anglo-Irish Lord White, who gave bed, board and booze to any Allied airman who unwittingly set foot on Eire’s holy neutral turf. They merely had to sign the guestbook and promise not to escape.

My Dad had nowhere to escape to. Was he traumatised by the experience? He didn’t ever say so—he wasn’t that sort of father—and I didn’t delve. Besides, what really captured my interest was the darkeyed young woman, almost out of shot. My old man remembered her, vividly. “That one,” he said, “ran with the hare and mixed with the pack, for she loved the chase.” Her name was Mary, he said, and she could be posh and she could be of the plain folk, just as it suited.

But always she was ambitious. How those fly boys danced on her attentions.

My attention was piqued, because when I hear the experiences of my parents’ gen-

eration, of their childhood in the 40s and 50s in Ireland, there is one constant and compelling refrain: how they negotiated class.

My folks were from a fragile position in a country that had only recently achieved independence. They were from what used to be known as the petit bourgeois. My grandfather was the master stonemason for Lord White’s estate, which is how my father came to be available for small dramatic parts. And my mother’s people kept shop, providing tea, bacon and mustard on tick to the lower gentry—lower, at least, than Lord White, who was more usually provisioned by Fortnum and Mason, depending upon what the sailing conditions were like.

As for the poor of the town, they had to pay on the nail. That always fascinated me: ‘thems that can don’t have to, thems that can’t can go hang’.

Apparently the bills run up by the landowning types turned my granny’s hair grey at thirty. If she quibbled—read, “begged”— they would reply that dumb insurrection by ignorant Fenians had caused the hardship in the first place, provoking “mainland Britain” into its economic blockade of this, John Bull’s other island. The underclass had chosen to unmake the bed, now they must lie in it.

From my boyhood holidays I recall their reminiscences of how dire the 30s were in Southern Ireland, or Eire, or whatever name it had taken since it had thrown off the yoke of the crown. No meat or cheese was allowed east across the Irish Sea, and poverty hardened—ossified. One had to cleave to the landed class because they alone might offer some work, or even one day settle their bills.

The result was that a class of poor was rendered more docile than it had been under British rule. Indeed, it became obvious that Eire was independent in name only. The old land-holding governing class could not be ousted but had to be clung to, as a yachtsman must cling to an upturned boat, when miles from shore and in sore need of help.

But then came the Emergency of 1939, the decision to remain neutral, and the demands for food and sustenance from wartime Britain. Up went the prices of beef and butter and money at last began to flow through the veins of the economy and into the pockets of drapers and publicans. On the Atlantic-facing West Coast there was the excitement of the battle of the boats— those of the Allied type that flew and those of the German type that could submerge. Inevitably, men and machine washed ashore.

What was the cap-doffing stonecutter or the curtseying shopkeeper to do? Keep their bets open, loyalty-wise; that’s how I heard it, across the pitch-pine table. Why, it could be swastikas in the town square by teatime, or the Brits might just as readily take back the port they had kept, post-independence, until 1937. It’s a juicy bone to thicken any plot, but my loyalties came to lie elsewhere.

Besides, I knew my parents’ story, as much as any offspring can. They were still alive and I hate hurting anyone’s feelings,

even for money. The truth was that by the time I reached my early-middle years, I was smitten by the dark-eyed one—her in the photo: Mary. In her face I saw excitement, intense curiosity and that slight furrowing about the temples that tells me she’s sizing up an opportunity.

And why not? Ballingore was as noisy and bright as a musical in the autumn of 1940—at least in comparison to the prewar years.

So A Girl’s Own War is the story of the trials and machinations of Mary—let’s call her Collins. Plain Mary Collins. (She’ll have to explain the absence of a middle name for I know how much a saint’s or a patriot’s moniker prefixing a surname is prized in Ballingore.) She’ll be peeved for sure. How to express peevishness? Ah, she’s a convent-educated young woman, of impeccable Catholic tastes and habits, landless but marriageable, desperately seeking sanctuary and sanctity. Poor Mary: a patriot, obviously, but immune to the romance of the revolutionary pitchfork. And at nineteen, not entirely grown out of schoolyard smut. She’s pious, then, and profane.

How does Mary tell her story? To whom? To me? Heaven forbid, how unsavoury. No, she has a friend—or, rather, she’s made to take a friend, one who is a true child of the very plain people and who cannot help but speak truth to power, who everyone agrees will keep Mary on the straight and narrow but secretly has more ambition than Mary possesses in her middle finger.

She’s smart too, this Niamh Slattery. Imagine having to thread your way through the chicane of small-town gossip and the slick overtures of the Brylcreemed squad, not to mention the sickly doggerel of the English poet. Why, these girls are for the taking, no? Or, at least, for the taking down a peg or two, say the townspeople.

Yes, yes, I invented Naimh to save Mary. It’s my love story too. But I try not to intrude; I let them talk their troubles out in rhyme and riddle. They don’t use standard Irish, or even, Oirish. That’s not what I’m hearing, for these two are wiseacres, throwing out lines to entertain each other. Don’t all close teenage pals have their own language?

Perhaps it is unseemly to listen in but honestly, I can’t help myself. Mary and Niamh made me write it down so I wouldn’t forget, so I might read their lines back and cheer them on for their pluck, lack of luck and sheer perseverance. Yes, they are oblivious to the great affairs of state and family, but that is the point of being nineteen, wide-eyed and rather cunning. I have no wish to go back but I still want to remember how it was.


K.J. KELLY EnvelopeBooks

7 September 2023

Softback, 246 pages


RRP £12.95


Tess Kelly: “Supposedly a true story, set in a down-at-heel port in Ireland during WWII. The amazing cast of characters, including English and German spies, John Betjeman, Dublin’s No 1 Nazi and a U-Boat are drawn to Ballingore in the hope of leaving the war behind, hopes that are dashed when they meet the haughty local beauty, Mary Collins, the “belle of Ballingore”. and her devoted, more intelligent, friend Niamh Slattery, a female relationship that harks back to a Shakespearean king and his fool or to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza—but funnier. Kelly has an original voice—a mixture of Flann O’Brien and Evelyn Waugh. A Thelma and Louise for the West of Ireland in mid-century?”

Jack on GoodReads: “Mary and Niamh are our heroines but Mary’s snobbery towards Niamh, who has polio, took my breath away. But this was 1940, in Ireland, and social class was all-powerful. Yet Niamh, by charm, guile and a knack for digging Mary out of trouble, forges a powerful friendship. Together, they make headway towards adulthood and maybe even Hollywood. In the meantime the Germany Navy is stymied, a convent goes up in flames and a British flying officer retreats with his tail between his legs. It’s breathless stuff but the feeling of place and time is captured remarkably well.”




Sparkling Books

Hard cover, printed paper case




Both formats to be published on 10 May 2024 or sooner if an early election is called.

ePub RRP 99p until the election, then £4.99

One parliament bad, five parliaments good: four national and a federal

David Kauders argues for a new UK legislative structure


We live in a democracy and yet our governments have the freedom to act as they like. Not that this necessarily serves their interests: their preference for short-term expedients over long-term investment harms the state’s ability to deliver health, education and other aspects of civil infrastructure. In this book, David Kauders attributes our failings to a system of governance that goes back to the seventeenth century. On the basis of more enlightened thinking elsewhere in the world, he proposes creating a federal system with sovereignty redefined in terms of the UK’s four constituent national populations. The book includes the first draft of a written constitution, with an elected people’s council replacing our present autocratic bodies.

British politics are in as much of a mess as the British economy. We face an election of empty platitudes as two tribes fight for absolute power, avoiding the key issues: climate change, failed policies, deteriorating public services, getting closer to Europe. But the one that matters most is never mentioned.

Britain is democratic in electing a government, a political system that stems straight from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.Since then, constitutional changes that give the elites more power stay in effect; those that do not concentrate power are usually abandoned. Such is the gap in accountability that the 2019 government has been able to pass legislation unforeseen in its manifesto.

What to do about it? In place of centralised political governance that cannot cope with the complex world of the twenty-first century, we need multiple governments each handling part of the workload. A federal system would enable decisions to be taken at the most sensible level. The present system muddles British with English governance, while the powers of the devolved governments vary. Consistent separation of responsibilities would make every government accountable to its electorate. Regional government would also be possible, particularly in England.

A federal system needs a written constitution setting out which government carries which responsibilities. The existing constitution is incomprehensible. But why do we allow governments to have absolute power, akin to the divine right of kings bestowed by our winner-take-all system? Why do we deny parliament rights over international agreements through use of Crown prerogative? What is the point in making and then repealing laws? Why do we need long campaigns--a century, in the case of women’s emancipation--instead of giving the people the right to put policies on the agenda? Why do we tolerate spin, deception and lies? All these are more easily solved with a written constitution in lieu of an unstable patchwork of laws.

Many books have analysed the British political system and its failings. Reinventing Democracy is the first to provide a comprehensive solution including proposing a draft written constitution. The House of Commons should be turned into five parliaments, four for the nations (of which three partially exist now) plus one for the federal functions of the UK as a whole: defence, foreign affairs, the currency, international agreements, the sovereign grant, common services, minimum standards, and some infrastructure.

Sovereignty should be redefined in terms of membership of each nation, so that the federal government only has those powers stated in the constitution. In all other ways, the nations would be sovereign. This puts an end to Crown prerogative, used by autocratic British governments to do as they like.

A representative federal assembly might consist of eight Northern Irish members, thirteen Welsh members, twenty-one Scottish members, and thirty-four English members, seventy-six in total (plus a small number for the Overseas territories). England should not use its numbers to overrule the other nations.

There have been many proposals to reform the House of Lords, but never to give it more power. The Privy Council provides an alternative and thoroughly undemocratic way to legislate, via Orders in Council.

Reinventing Democracy proposes sweeping away both the Privy Council and House of Lords, and replacing them with a People’s Council that is democratically elected. The People’s Council would replace royal assent by the People’s assent. There could be a four-step process for it to decide:

1. If the legislation has been fully described before an election (instead of words like “review” and “balance”) and only technical changes have been made, the People’s Council could approve the law without further formality.

2. The People’s Council could consider whether a vote of its elected members would be sufficient to settle a non-controversial matter. For national legislation, only members representing that nation would vote. Internal legislation could therefore diverge, because the federal government would have no blocking power.

3. The People’s Council could call a citizens’ jury to debate and vote on the proposed law, by nation or for the entire United Kingdom as appropriate.

4. In controversial cases, the People’s Council could call a referendum.

The draft constitution included in the book sets out how this would all work. All citizens would be citizens of one nation, determined by birth, naturalisation or parentage, and have unrestricted rights to live and work anywhere in the United Kingdom. Citizenship can be changed voluntarily, for example if parents were of different British nationalities. Citizens would vote for national elections in their own nations and always for United Kingdom elections.

Other points that are essential parts of the whole are to allow hypothecation of taxes, that is allocate them to specific purposes. This involves the people. The Treasury and Home Office would be divided into central skills for the nations to draw upon, and specific federal and national responsibilities. Take visas as an example. Tourist visas are best done centrally, so that tourists can visit the entire United Kingdom but the nations and regions should be able to authorise work visas, granting residence rights. Another essential change is to require political and government communications to always be clear, fair and not misleading, ending the era of spin, lies, and deception. All the detail is in the book.

Until the people drag Britain out of the seventeenth century, nothing will change.

New parliament buildings: Albania (proposed but not built) and Georgia (half-built but abandoned in 2018).


Emerging and developing economies face multiple financial challenges where they are in the process of deepening their financial markets and establishing the credibility of their monetary regimes. Changes such as the growing importance of open-end mutual funds in cross-border flows over the last two decades appear to have made capital flows more sensitive to global drivers.

In principle, integrating capital markets benefits countries because it enhances efficiency, enables risk-sharing, promotes financial sector competitiveness, facilitates greater productive investment in growing economies, and allows for consumption smoothing.

At the same time, volatile capital flows pose risks for economic and financial stability. While flexible exchange rates can serve as buffers, they may not offer full

IMF member countries with a set of tools to choose from that would best help them navigate the trade-offs involved.

The raising of these fundamental questions also meant that the IMF’s then existing framework for dealing with capital flows, adopted in 2012, needed to be revised. That framework provided the basis for consistent advice but does not fully show how policy tools can be used in combination. One problem is that the use of a broader set of tools could also make policy less transparent, undermine hardearned policy credibility, and stymie the development of deep and liquid markets.

Since the IMF intensified its soul-searching on member countries’ capital-flow dilemmas, substantial progress has been made. Several empirical papers have been, key analytical and empirical findings have been published and the framework has been updated.

This book is a collection of empirical

the “first line of defence” against external shocks.

On the other side of the spectrum, other emerging market economies (and some small, open advanced economies) tend to pursue “flexible” inflation-targeting regimes with a focus on interest-rate policy, but also intervene heavily in the foreign-exchange market and use macroprudential policy measures, at times resorting to capital-flow management measures.

Chapter 4 uses a case-study approach to review the policy responses of Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Thailand to external shocks following the global financial crisis. A somewhat broader exploration, albeit focused on Asia, is conducted in Chapter 5, which sheds light on how Asian countries manage external financial shocks. Chapter 9, “Capital Controls in Times of Crisis—Do They Work?” contributes to the literature by systematically distinguishing inflow and outflow

A flexible exchange rate is not the only financial shock absorber, says IMF

insulation from external shocks, do not always reflect economic fundamentals, and can display excessive volatility themselves. In other words, they could become shock amplifiers, rather than shock absorbers.

In response to such volatility, countries often reach for a mix of tools, including monetary policy, intervention in the currency market, capital-flow management measures, and macroprudential policies (the last of which aim to reduce a financial system’s sensitivity to shocks by limiting the build-up of financial vulnerabilities).

Specific policy packages have varied substantially across countries and across time. The use of macroprudential policies has become increasingly popular. They have also been combined with foreign-exchange intervention to build reserves, lean against appreciation or depreciation pressures and prevent sharp currency movements.

Similarly, while countries have generally continued to liberalise their capital accounts, some have, at times, tightened capital flow measures. Countries facing similar external environments have also sometimes reacted very differently. Such diverse responses have strengthened the need for new thinking on optimal policy responses.

Given the lack of consensus on how effective such tools are, or how they interact or can be best combined, IMF staff began to produce a series of papers, starting in 2018, to explore these questions under the leadership of the then first deputy managing director, David Lipton. A key motivation was to develop an approach that could jointly consider the various policies mentioned above.

Such an approach was expected to shed light on what works and what doesn’t, and to present alternative policy mixes that took into account country-specific circumstances, the nature of shocks, the initial cyclical and structural conditions, and the complementarities and trade-offs among different policy levers.

In other words, the goal was to provide

studies undertaken by staff since 2018, with chapters discussing, among other things, the side effects of US monetary policy spillovers (“monetary policy spillovers”), differences in countries’ responses to external shocks, and constraints faced by monetary policymakers in emerging economies.

A crucial question is how important US monetary policy is in shaping credit conditions and risk-taking for developing economies? A growing literature finds large effects of such policy on foreign credit and of exchange rate movements on leverage. In fact, the impact of domestic monetary policy pales in comparison with that of US monetary policy, in line with the “Trilemma” argument put forward by Hélène Rey of the London Business School in 2013 (which states that it is not feasible to have at the same time a fixed exchange rate, full capital mobility and monetary policy independence).

To show exactly how powerful US monetary policy is, the authors of Chapter 2 of this book have created a data set comprising nearly 1,000 financial institutions in 21 countries over 15 years. They find that both banks and non-banks increase leverage following prolonged domestic and US monetary policy easing, but that the rise in leverage is higher in the latter case.

Such side effects from US policy are stronger in countries that are more financially developed, less open to trade, and have smaller gross US dollar liabilities. These results lend support to concerns raised by emerging market economy policymakers that US monetary policy spillovers complicate domestic policymakers’ decisions.

On the question of the variety of policy responses to changes in global financial conditions, Chapter 3 presents an analytical assessment of the divergent reactions observed in reality. It finds that some economies subscribe to the classical Mundell-Fleming prescription: they tend to pursue inflation targeting, allowing their exchange rate movements to act as


IMF 513 pages 27 October 2023 9798400211263

controls, different types of controls, and those introduced during a crisis versus those already in existence.

It is often argued that capital controls should be used very sparingly, since they are profoundly disliked by investors. But how does Wall Street really view capital controls? Chapter 10 is based on a survey—commissioned by the IMF and conducted by a retired independent consultant—of buy-and-sell-side investors. It presents investors’ perceptions of capital controls across a broad range of countries, comparing their perceptions with the evidence.

As expected, the survey finds that investors care about capital controls. Moreover, if investors exit a market following the introduction of such controls, there are cross-border spillover effects. Interestingly, most investors are willing to reenter the market within a relatively short time, once the controls are lifted, but believe that these countries are likely to reintroduce controls—that is, investors forgive but do not forget.

The degree to which investors are concerned about capital controls varies, depending on the type of control: controls on the repatriation of capital and profits from existing investments are seen as the most restrictive, while preexisting capital controls are not a major deterrent to investors.

The type of temporary control also seems to matter. These results suggest that policymakers and future research should pay more attention to the nuanced views of investors on capital controls as well as the different types of controls.

The effectiveness of foreign-exchange intervention is also examined. The issue remains a hotly debated topic, with scepticism still prevalent in the academic world about the effects of unsterilized intervention. Andrew Filardo, Gaston Gelos and Thomas McGregor offer a novel approach, arguing that the relationship between exchange rates and fundamentals may be different at


The exposure of open economies to shocks makes them particularly vulnerable to capital flow volatility. How should domestic policymakers respond?

The traditional answer has been to use flexible exchange rates as a shock absorber. But flexible exchange rates may not protect imperfect financial markets sufficiently.

This book brings together recent empirical studies by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the effectiveness of different tools in responding to such shocks. Its 18 chapters provide a rich background to the IMF’s recently launched Integrated Policy Framework. They assess countries’ actual use of different tools, as well as evaluate their effectiveness and side effects.

Many of the studies involve new data and methods to tackle the inherently difficult problems in identifying and comparing the effects of policies under different circumstances. As a result, the volume offers the reader a comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the policyoriented empirical research that has informed the development of a new way of thinking about open-economy macroeconomics at the IMF.

Lingualia: Quiz 19

Fraudsters faked up a BBC webpage. Would you have noticed the tells?

Could English Literature help save us from cybercrime? A century ago, literary criticism conferred a quasipriestly status on practitioners who were already armed with their own wide reading and superior tastes.

Then in the 1920s came a series of experiments, conducted by I.A. Richards at Cambridge University. Under the rubric of Practical Criticism, students were invited to make sense of poems without any supporting information. The idea was to sidestep elite literary biases and to sensitise oneself solely to what a poem said about itself, unaided by prior knowledge.

Evaluation, here, stripped appraisal of its class privilege and depended instead on what any reader could see. In that sense, it emulated legal practice rather than connoisseurship in favouring evidence over expertise and preconception.

We need such skills today so we can see through the fake messaging of scammers. In 2019 Cybersecurity Ventures projected that the global cost of cybercrime would rise from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion by 2021. More recent forecasts predict a loss to the global economy of £20 trillion by 2026, according to Statista.

Some cybercrime involves denial of service or the takeover and manipulation of legitimate websites but some is very much simpler: the creation of fake websites that mimic real ones. In cases such as these, the success of criminals often hinges on our own insufficient scrutiny of the messaging that comes our way. In short, we too often take what we see at face value.

On 26 January of this year, Facebook users were suddenly bombed with images of what looked like a BBC web page, purporting to carry a news story about the financial journalist Robert Peston. According to the story, Peston had allowed himself to divulge a no-risk get-rich-quick scheme during a television interview and had then regretted his disclosure.

The fabricated narrative reported that, over the past two years, Peston had admitted profiting continuously after depositing a small sum with an online brokerage named Immediate Xgen AI. The story went on to claim that the Bank of England was so alarmed by Peston’s disclosure that it had intervened to halt the interview, fearing that the banking system would be brought to its knees if people stopped earning legitimately.

The BBC site was of course a hoax—as Immediate Xgen AI appears also to be. An abundance of authentic sites question the legitimacy of the company, which seems to be a crypto-trading platform run by bots but lacks verifiable credentials regarding its operation, ownership and security measures. So…

… Lingualia Quiz 19 invites you to exercise your skills in Practical Criticism. Let us know how many tells you can identify that give away the fraudulence of the mock website on the facing page.

For the record, some images of Peston and his supposed interviewer, Paul Brand, have been omitted so we could to carry as much of the original text as possible but— nota bene—the images we have retained also contain clues. See also if you identify the origins of the fraudsters.

Send us your list of give-aways and we’ll offer the most eagle-eyed of you a copy of any EnvelopeBook you might choose (see, together with whatever round of applause you might get from being congratulated in these columns.

Good luck!


Routledge; 2nd edition

Softback, 27 June 2024

216 pages


RRP £34.99




Simon & Schuster UK; 1st edition

31 Aug. 2023

Softback, 464 pages


RRP £10.99



Professional; 1st edition 2 March 2023

Softback, 416 page


RRP £29.95



Bloomsbury / Head of Zeus 1 February 2024

Hardback, 240 pages


RRP £20.00


Harvard Business Review Press

21 March 2023

Hardback, 256 pages


RRP £22.00


Grove Press UK 4 April 2024

Softback, 416 pages


RRP £12.99



There is no better tonic than a revitalising short break. Kirker takes responsibility for every aspect of your holiday: flights or Eurostar, private transfers, selected hotels, expert local guides, opera tickets and restaurant reservations. We have selected nine of our favourite hotels where Kirker clients will enjoy a complimentary extra night this year, but please speak to one of our experienced consultants for a tailor made quotation.


Hotel De Rome ***** Deluxe

Fascinating museums and spectacular buildings such as Norman Foster’s Reichstag make Berlin one of Europe’s most exciting cities. Only minutes away from Museum Island, Sir Rocco Forte’s stylish converted bank building is now our favourite hotel in the city.

3 nights for the price of 2 for stays including a Sunday night until 30 April and from 15 July to 31 August – price from £976, saving £194

Includes a 72hr Berlin Museum Pass


Hostal de La Gavina *****

This traditional property is located between two delightful beaches in the town of S’Agaro, and has attracted wealthy Barcelona residents since the 1930s, who come to relax by the outdoor seawater pool and to enjoy the excellent cuisine.

4 nights for the price of 3 and a complimentary three-course lunch from 1 April until 31 May and 1-27 October – price from £992 per person, saving £172


De L'Horloge *** Superior

Situated right in the heart of the mediaeval walled city of Avignon, walking distance from the famous Pont across the Rhône, this attractive hotel overlooks one of Avignon’s most popular squares. There are 67 bedrooms, some with terraces overlooking the Palais de Papes.

3 nights for the price of 2 until 24 April – price from £966, saving £120


Ca' Sagredo ***** Deluxe

Early spring is the perfect time to enjoy the magic of Venice. This historic palazzo has only 42 bedrooms, as well as the grandest of public areas: marble staircases and beautiful frescoed halls. There is an excellent restaurant on the Grand Canal.

14 February - 31 March and 14 July - 22 August:

3 nights for the price of 2 for arrivals on a Sunday or Monday – price from £1,089 per person, saving £210

Includes water taxi transfers and Doge’s Palace or Accademia tickets


La Pérouse **** Superior

A short walk from the old town, La Pérouse has 56 comfortable bedrooms, a summer swimming pool and wonderful views of the Baie des Anges – as well as a restaurant which serves seasonal French and Italian cuisine.

4 nights for the price of 3 from 27 March to 22 April – price from £1,089, saving £225

Includes entrance to the Musée Matisse


Commercianti **** Superior

This family-run hotel has the perfect location next to the Basilica of San Petronio and Piazza Maggiore. Housed in an 11th century building, the 35 bedrooms are decorated with antique furniture; a few have a small balcony.

3 nights for the price of 2 from 1 July to 30 August – price from £696, saving up to £135

Includes a Bologna Welcome Card


König von Ungarn **** Deluxe

One of our favourite hotels in the centre of mediaeval Vienna, just 200 yards from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The hotel has 33 bedrooms and the delicious breakfast is served beneath atmospheric vaulted ceilings. Ask the Kirker Concierge about opera performances.

4 nights for the price of 3 from 7 January to 14 March and 1 July to 6 August – price from £1,049 per person, saving £169

Includes a Vienna Masterticket


Miramare *****

Just 45 minutes from Genoa, this little known Italian Riviera resort has an elegant piazza and harbour. This distinctive, Liberty-style building has gardens, a seawater swimming pool and spa. There are 73 rooms, many with balconies and sea views.

4 nights for the price of 3 from 1 April - 14 May and 1-31 October – price from £1,486 per person, saving £300


Telegraaf *****

This 19th century former post office opened its doors in 2007 as the Telegraaf, the finest hotel in the cobbled streets of ancient Tallinn. The 83 bedrooms are decorated in a classical style and there is a spa with an indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath.

4 nights for the price of 3 all year – price from £698 per person, saving £130

Prices are per person based on two sharing and include flights, return transfers, accommodation with breakfast, Kirker Guide Notes to restaurants, museums and sightseeing, and the services of the Kirker Concierge.

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