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Our author MP features on Today programme

Wednesday, 7th September 2011.

A new book part-authored by Haverhill's MP is causing a stir in political and economic circles.

Matthew Hancock was invited to speak on Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today this morning in the wake of the publication of his book, Masters Of Nothing, co-authored with Nadhim Zahawi MP.

Masters Of Nothing looks at the human behaviour behind the financial crisis. It looks at the world as it is, and tries to understand how people actually behaved in the run-up to the biggest crash in the history of capitalism.

From the herd instinct and outrageous risk-taking of the boom years, through the tipping point of 2008 and the rewards for failure received by those at the top, the book combines stories of gritty reality with concrete proposals for what must change.

Articulating the key message of Masters Of Nothing, Matthew told the Today programme: “The big argument is that economic behaviour is underpinned by human behaviour, and how we behave as individuals and as groups. Often that isn’t rational.

"We did some extraordinary polling and found that 43 per cent of people believe that they are always rational but only 34 per cent of people think that their friends are always rational. We have run the economy on the assumption that everybody is rational all of the time, and they are not.

“We know this from our everyday lives and the people we talk to and our marriages. We have got to move away from that... the conclusion that we draw is that if you, in a complex system, have more and more detailed rules to try to dictate what behaviour should be, then those rules are gamed and ways found round them.

“Far more important is to give policy-makers and the authorities – like the Bank of England – the power to make judgments and the authority to go to the big banks and say, whatever the detailed rules say, your business plan is not sustainable.”

Masters Of Nothing was launched on Monday September 5 at No 11 Downing Street. George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, opened the evening, welcoming the book as “an incredibly important contribution”.

Warm speeches followed from leading Times journalist, Danny Finkelstein, and Peter Riddell, head of the Institute for Government.

Masters of Nothing has been published by Biteback Publishing and can be bought from selected bookshops or online at Amazon. You can also find out more by visiting www.mastersofnothing.co.uk

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