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HBOS report yields three important lessons for all businesses

British regulators have finally published their report into HBOS, the bank formed from the merger of Halifax with Bank of Scotland, more than seven years after its collapse. The 600-odd pages contain much detail on events and personalities. But there are general lessons for all businesses. Avoid the diversifier’s fallacy. Beware the winner’s curse. Fear adverse selection.

Salutary lessons from the downfall of a carmaker

The decline of GM is as instructive as its rise. The challenge of how to reconcile professional management with a culture of innovation remains for ever a central issue for management thinkers.

The fallacy of equating economic power with clout

Dominance of an industry or activity is not the same as scale. International trade is conducted by individuals and businesses, not governments, and it is them, who negotiate the division of the value added trade creates.

The spirit of Rockefeller is vital to scientific innovation

Large scale philanthropy, as practised by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, is a business of economic significance rather than clarity.

A triumph of hope over experience

Merger Monday has proved that in the merger market, hope springs eternal. The wall of money chasing alternative investments in hope of the returns achieved in the heady 1990s, made it possible to take almost any company private.

Global business deserves a peaceful May Day

Globalisation is not the cause of poverty and inequality in the world economy. Poor people are poor not because they participate too much in international trade but because they participate too little.

Size isn’t all that matters for global economies

For countries as for businesses, small scale is no barrier to success. John explains why size isn’t all that matters.

Big media can never be truly creative media

Is it inevitable that media industries will be dominated by conglomerates? This is the industry where scale creates more problem than its advantages

Survival of the fittest not the fattest

The increased concentration of the car industry has been a commonly used, yet increasingly untrue example on the effects of globalisation. There is still an important lesson to learn though.

On John Kay’s Bookshelf – Archive page

Books that John has reviewed in the past...