Finance

Best of Further Reading 2022

Best of Further Reading 2022
Written by MAGASIR

It’s been quite a year, much like all the others, but this time with recency bias. Summarising it shouldn’t be the responsibility of just one publication.

Welcome, then, to a crowdsourced FTAV Further Reading year-end special.

We asked FT staffers to choose their favorite stories published elsewhere in 2022. A few took the time to explain their picks; several others let the recommendations speak for themselves;

Below is a (lightly edited) collection of responses. Your additions are of course very welcome in the comment box.

Jonathan Guthrie, Head of Lex

The seductiveness of false information was highlighted in a funny BBC website article by Marco Silva on the great online toaster hoax in November. For nine years, Scottish-Japanese aerospace engineer Alan MacMasters was celebrated as the Victorian inventor of the electric toaster entry in a Wikipedia concocted by one of his friends. The prank was so successful that more than a dozen books alluded to MacMasters’ achievement and the Brand Scotland website celebrated him as epitomising the nation’s “inventive spirit”. The hoax was finally rebunked by a teenager who A Victorian-style photo of McMasters on Wikipedia must be a fake.

Toasters were, in fact, invented in the US by General Electric’s Frank Shailor in 1909.

Most of the time, human beings believe what they want to believe. Frauds depend on this, as do innocent hoaxes.

Kadhim Shubber, Investigative Reporter

‘Where’s the money gone?’ is arguably the most tantalizing question in journalism. After years of investigating Thurrock Council in the east of England, reporter Gareth Davies of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that £655mn of local government money hadone funded justman , and a big chunk was now missing. The explosive report led to Thurrock being stripped of its financial authority, and the council has now declared effective bankruptcy.

Other favorites include: Former City tax partner Dan Neidle’s war on abusive libel threats (Tax Policy); David Conn’s expose on Michelle Mone and the PPE MedPro scandal (The Guardian); and Jen Wieczner’s colorful and comprehensive tale of the collapse of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (New York Magazine).

Arash Massoudi, Corporate Finance and Deals Editor

I enjoyed this portrait of Richard Caring by Oliver Shah for the Sunday Times.

Robert Smith. Capital Markets Correspondent

The New York real estate market is full of smoke and mirrors. But even by those standards, the finances of Joel Schreiber, who made his name as WeWork’s first investor, are convoluted and opaque to say the least. US real estate bible The Real Deal cut through Schreiber’s thicket of disputed collateral in this vivid portrait of a man being pursued over his debts by the likes of Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Dan McCrum, TV celebrity

The Crypto Story (Bloomberg). Why on earth would you write, or read, 40,000 words on crypto? As Matt Levine explains, the world’s alternative finance industry is (was) super interesting. With much for the novice and tired septic to learn, his tour is fascinating, funny and full of wry shade. It also poses a fundamental challenge to those who hope to rebuild, to connect the crypto world to the real. “You’ve built a decentralized lending platform, awesome. But can a young family use it to buy a house?”

Sam Jones, Switzerland and Austria Correspondent

Super-prime mover: Britain’s most successful estate agent (Guardian); A Cosmos Indoors, Andrew O’Hagan reviews Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects (London Review of Books); and Solomun, the DJ who keeps Ibiza dancing (The New Yorker )

Louis Ashworth, FTAV artist-in-residence

Salsa inglesa — A Mexican Sauce (Vittles). Like Worcestershire sauce, this article is the sum of surprising parts: food writing, history, social studies, minor explosions, industrial secrets and corporate hegemony. It’s no secret that some of the as best food are borrowed, stolen, or stumbled upon, and it’s always fun to learn about culinarily dowdy Britain’s overseas food footholds (see also Vimto in the Middle East, or Kit Kats in Japan).

Patrick McGee, San Francisco Correspondent

Among the best and most original features I read all year was this profile of a professional stone skipper — Stone Skipping Is a Lost Art. Kurt Steiner Wants the World to Find It (Outside). That should sound bizarre, and if you’re like me your first question is, there are professional stone skippers? But give it a whirl, it is amazing!

David Keohane, Financial News Editor

When the Hindu right came for Bollywood (The New Yorker); Can Nigel Farage make you rich? (Bloomberg); and Meet the lobbyist next door (Wired).

Matt Vella, FT Weekend Magazine Editor

Even in a year marked by outstanding foreign reporting, George Packer’s Atlantic piece The Betrayal from January stuck with me. The 20,000-plus-word report on the Special Immigrant Visa program and the Afghans trying to use it to flee the country is a study in the human cost of failing to plan for the worst-case scenario. The story works on multiple registers — parts are told from the perspective of those leaving — and the underlying why we cannot look away once the headlines move on.

Bryce Elder, FTAV regimental mascot

Character assassinations are under-appreciated. There’s much more craft to it than being rude or cruel, since cheap shots tend to rebound. A well-written character assassination applies a psychiatrist’s insight with the detached brutality of an abattoir worker. For Politico, Tanya Gold marks the end of Liz Truss’s political career with a portrait so caustic it could unblock a drain. And for Tocqueville21, Morgan Jones profiles Elon Musk from within the social media smog that caused him.

Katie Martin, Markets Editor

Despite Alphaville’s underhand efforts To boost Robin’s bids in the charity lunch stakes, I humbly submit a few stories that stuck in my mind this year. Never go into banking (Bloomberg); Making grift great again (Vice) and Escaping a terrible person (BBC).

Malcolm Moore, Editor, FT Edit

I thought this New York Times piece about executive Ironmans — How the 1 per cent runs the ironman — was pure FT.

Robin Wigglesworth, Editor, FTAV

A little too glibly written, but The Ballad of Heather Morgan and Ilya Lichtenstein, Bitcoin’s Bonnie and Clyde (Vanity Fair) was one of the better and more comprehensive pieces on the Razzlekhan saga.

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, US Business Editor

There was just one, standout article for me this year: the paean to Sam Bankman-Fried, penned by a “private historian” who channelled F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway to bring us not just a profile of the founder of FTX and his “ small team dedicated to fixing the world — via the magic of quantitative reasoning and the overwhelming force of goodwill” but, perhaps unwittingly, the year’s most revealing insight into the VC industry.

Sequoia Capital not only invested $214mn with “SBF” after its partners were awed by his ability to pitch cryptobabble while playing League of Legends, but published the portrayal of him as a later day John Pierpont Morgan on its own website.

Archived for posterity after Bankman-Fried’s fall gave Sequoia second thoughts and a gigantic writedown, the profile may yet spawn a new genre of financial fan fiction. Which founder would list not now want such a portrait from the Hans Holbein of Silicon Valley? Would not like to get paid by the word for so, so many words?

“Love is the currency,” the ode to SBF tells us. But I suspect that Sequoia shelled out something more concrete than love — or crypto.

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MAGASIR

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