26 September 2023

A Banquet of Consequences: Reloaded

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Satyajit Das, Viking, $34.99.

Named as one of the 50 most influential financial thinkers in the world, Satyajit Das anticipated, as early as 2006, the Global Financial Crisis. Featured in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, the Sydney-based former banker and corporate treasurer-turned-consultant-and-author does not mince words.

History shows that the decline of civilisations is driven by a combination of democracy deficit, flawed economy, rising inequality, climate emergency and resource scarcity. Perceptive and candid, A Banquet of Consequences: Reloaded is a disturbing account of what humanity can expect in the future unless immediate changes are made.

This 480-page book helps you to understand how we got into our current economic, environmental and social mess – and how we might find our way out. In this perspicacious account, Das links past, present and future to show that it’s not just our impracticable expectations, but poor choices that are to blame.

In the preface, Das complains that the original version of this book (2015) “did not receive the coverage or interest that it perhaps deserved … The book predictably suffered Cassandra’s fate in Greek mythology: its cautions were ignored. “Unfortunately, the fears expressed proved well founded.”

To follow-up on any observed disparity, now reparation is made with Das including 150 pages of “new insights and analysis” in this re-write, which was under discussion before the pandemic. Over subsequent years, he has become even more astringently cynical.

Well-versed, heartfelt, astute and witty, this edition updates the content, covering events since 2015 around each of the identified issues. The years between editions also enables Das to factor into his assessments the Trump Presidency, Brexit, the rise of populist nationalism, and the economic, social and health dimensions of the covid pandemic.

To avoid the temptations of hindsight, the primary text remains unchanged. The new material is placed in an extended postscript, ‘the End of the Game’. Even the references and index have been revised.

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