Barings Bank, Bear Stearns, Enron, WorldCom - Tim Phillips' Fit to Bust brings together a collection of corporate failures with the intention of analysing what makes good companies turn bad.
It is a decent enough idea. It's just a shame that the author's examination of each failure is more fleeting than forensic. He deals with each case study in the manner of an executive summary that's been hastily written for a time-pressed senior manager. In doing so, he rarely pauses to ask "why" after he's told us "how".
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Of Barings Bank we are informed that Nick Leeson, one of the most famous "rogue traders" to have ever walked the planet, took advantage of a lack of supervision on the trading floor to set up a fake account in which he buried his mounting losses (really, whoever knew?). Phillips later concludes that this "simplistic fraud" could have been prevented had the bank's management "looked closely even one month before the truth came out". Of course, that's absolutely correct, but it's a bit like acknowledging that the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing.