“A banker is a fellow who will lend you his umbrella when the sun shines, but wants it back again the minute it begins to rain” – Mark Twain
The Umbrella Men
The Umbrella Men is a book written by a perpetrator and a victim.
It skewers with informed intent.
“A witty, globally-scoped exposé of corporate greed and environmentalism told through an absorbing character-rich tale.”
Joanne Owen LoveReading UK
Keith Carter. Born in Scotland, he read Economics at Cambridge, taking a First in 1981 when he was elected a Scholar. He worked as an investment banker before going straight and running a small pharmaceutical company. Now a writer and business consultant he enjoys travel, politics and economics, reading and writing, languages, music and meals with family and friends. Keith suffered a spinal cord injury in March 2018 and since rides a wheelchair.
View a video of Keith explaining something of his book and why he wrote it here:
The Umbrella Men. A witty, fast-paced and acerbic novel set in pristine Oregon and the corporate corridors of New York, London and China. A story for our times where finance, environmentalism, rare-earth mining and human frailties collide in a complex of flawed motives.
Here is a short video trailer for The Umbrella Men that catches the essence of the book really well:
Read the prologue of The Umbrella Men (less than 1 minute read) here:
LSE, LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS, LONDON, NOVEMBER 2008
“If these things were so large,” she asked, gesturing with a gloved hand towards the poster with its colourful graphics showing the speculative causes of hundreds of billions of wayward dollars, “how did everyone miss them?”
Her Majesty the Queen asked the best question. Visiting the London School of Economics to open a new building in late 2008, she turned away from a poster presentation chattily entitled “Managing the Credit Crunch” and innocently put it to the assembled gaggle of economists, top men in their field, deferential despite themselves.
With this the Queen voiced what millions of her subjects, who would have to pay for the mess, had been wondering. The fawning cluster of economists shuffled uncomfortably; prizewinning schoolboys caught unprepared by the teacher. One of them was pushed to the front and offered a mumbled answer involving people relying on other people and thinking at every stage they were doing the right thing. When the Queen responded with a single word, “awful”, no one was sure if she was passing judgement on the mumbled answer, the man who gave it, the others who stood around looking sheepishly at their shoes, economists in general, the financial crisis overall, or the bankers who had caused it. She was right, though. It was awful.
Bankers’ Crisis. Rare Earths. China’s rise.
The themes covered by The Umbrella Men.
A financial balloon that had been inflating for years exploded in 2008. It nearly brought capitalism to its knees. Greed and incompetence played their roles; but mostly greed. Those who had been enthusiastically blowing air into the balloon – bankers mostly – profited greatly as the balloon grew huge. When it burst, costing trillions of dollars, guess who did not pay?
NOT A SINGLE SENIOR BANKER WAS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE
I wrote a blog post on this here:
… and gave a talk at Westminster School (to the terrifyingly bright members of the Economics Club) which you can download here:
Rare Earths and their mining play a big role in The Umbrella Men. The book therefore has the opportunity to expose a massive hypocrisy. We’re nearly all guilty. It’s the unintended consequences of the Green Revolution in (paradoxically) environmental costs. These are localised and far from us in the west. But they are dramatic. Our green virtue is bought at a very high price.
I wrote a blog post on this here
China, by which I mean the Chinese State, plays a big role in The Umbrella Men. One of the most interesting things happening this millennium has been the rise of China and its different philosophical approaches. We look at China, how it arranges its affairs, its apparent unconcern for human rights, the apparent acceptance of this by its gigantic population, its incredible economic growth following the introduction of market forces despite rule by a party called Communist – and we see a seething mass of contradictions. What do they see when they look at us?
I think our way, with all its own contradictions, is better. I like freedom of expression and I like liberty for the individual. I wish it for all those living under undemocratic régimes everywhere. That’s why I wrote this post about Hong Kong.
China does not play buy our rules, that much is highlighted in the book. By our rules, it cheats. But what if there is another rule-book?
A highly entertaining romp that very accurately portrays the conflicting objectives and modus operandi of groups of investment bankers, hedgies, environmentalists and a small rare earth mining company as they each try to maximise their own positions, and with abundant human frailties on show.waterstones reviewer