My holiday reading is usually non-work related, but I have made one exception this summer, finishing Richard Murphy's 'The Courageous State.
For those not familiar with Richard, he is a chartered accountant and political economist who advises the Tax Justice Network amongst others. His Tax Research UK blog, now ranked the number 1 economics blog in the UK, has put the Tax Gap high on the political agenda. A day rarely goes by without me tweeting something from it. He has a prodigious output of quality analysis.
This book does three things. First, it says that neoliberalism has given us feeble politicians who think anything they do will be worse than the market outcome, so they do little or nothing. They fail us as a result. Second, it argues that this is wrong and a whole raft of new economic thinking from Richard shows why. And third, it contains a whole range of economic policy proposals that courageous politicians could adopt to get us out of the neoliberal mess we're in.
I also enjoyed his first book (with others) on tax havens. However, it wasn't the easiest read. 'The Courageous State' is written much more with the general reader in mind. Here are two reviews from good writers that spell out why.
"Conventional economists have run out of ideas. But Richard Murphy abounds with them.He writes with electric clarity about what went wrong and what could be done to put things right. He is a new economic thinker, and guided by a sharp and practical accountant's eye he knows where the money is hidden, who has it and how to release it. Murphy is is as courageous as he says our politicians should be." --Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
Rich individuals, corporations, well-funded special interest groups and much of Fleet Street is on one (the wrong) side and then there is Richard Murphy..the heroic figure. Tireless and forensic, driven by an admirable moral fervour, I take my hat off to a campaigner with Duracell batteries --Kevin Maguire, Sunday Mirror
I am reading this book on my iPad. A bit heavier and more cumbersome than the Kindle, but great for highlighting and bookmarking sections you want to keep. Needless to say there are acres of highlights in my copy!
And my leisure reading? The second in Robert Low's Kingdom series covers the execution of Wallace and the crowning of Robert the Bruce. Bob lives in Largs and is a former journalist, perhaps better known for his Viking books. His treatment of the wars of independence is bit grittier than, say Nigel Tranter, but is well written.
Lastly, 'Eagle', the first of Jack Hight's Saladin Trilogy. I enjoyed his first book on the siege of Constantinople. He writes really good historical fiction, just as I like it. There are a few more books in the reading pile, just in case the weather keeps me off the golf course!