The effects on Britains economic and political power brought by unscrupulous, reckless gamblers from the notorious gambling club in the 60s - the Clermont Club.
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James Goldsmith ...
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The effects on Britains economic and political power brought by unscrupulous, reckless gamblers from the notorious gambling club in the 60s - the Clermont Club.

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18 July 1999 (UK)  »

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The Takeover Tycoons
6 May 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Anyone who thought they understood finance in 1970 would soon be badly wrong-footed, unless their name was Goldsmith, Slater or Rowland. The whole relationship between governments, stock-markets, banks and shareholders simply went into ragtime, and it hasn't stopped yet.

This 4-part study attempts to rationalise it for the humble layman, but it doesn't really chime as a satisfying quartet. Part 1 seems somewhat off-topic, mostly to do with a demobbed colonel lamenting the end of empire. Part 2 ('Entrepreneur Spelt S.P.I.V.') is the one that actually gets to the guts of the problem - Jim Slater and the asset-stripping revolution, soon copied by 'Tiny' Rowland in Africa. Part 3 is concerned with Reaganomics and junk-bonds, which all gets a bit technical for me. And Part 4 is a gloomy tale of the old tycoons when they've outlived their glory days.

The subject is really too broad for a short series like this. For example, the umbrella-title 'The Mayfair Set' refers to the Clermont Club in its splendid Palladian town-house in Berkeley Square, and the venue alone would have justified a 1-hour documentary. In this context, for example, we get one glimpse of Lord ('Lucky') Lucan, with no mention of the sensational murder case in which both he and the club were so intimately involved.

Quite fun to listen to various tycoons complaining about corrupt habits that they had largely introduced into the system themselves. Perhaps a little sad to hear about Goldsmith succumbing to apocalyptic visions, which clearly reflected his own approaching demise. And there is an ironic ending, with Jim Slater recalling boyhood games of Monopoly, where he selected the best properties to buy, according to how far they were from the 'Go to Jail' square!


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