Gillian Tett

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Full name: Gillian Tett

Area of interest: Business and Finance, Global markets

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times


Personal website:







Education: Cambridge University: social anthropology (PhD)

Career: Initially trained as a social anthropologist, then became a journalist while doing fieldwork in Soviet Central Asia during the era of communism in Russia. Joined the FT in 1993: worked in the economics team, posted to Tokyo in 1997, becoming bureau chief, returned to the UK in 2003 to become deputy head of the Lex column, Lex editor

Current position/role: US managing editor and an assistant editor of the Financial Times

  • also writes/written for:

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities:



Broadcast media: FRONTLINE - The "Money, Power and Wall Street",, 25th April 2012




  • Awarded the Wincott prize (premier British award for financial journalism), 2007 - for her coverage of capital markets
  • British Press Awards, 2008: Business and finance journalist of the year
  • British Press Awards 2009: Journalist of the year
  • 2009 Financial Book of the Year for Fool's Gold


Books & Debate:

Gillian Tett Saving the Sun.jpg
  • Ambiguous alliances: marriage and identity in a Muslim village in Soviet Tajikstan (1996) OCLC 53570262
  • Saving the sun: a Wall Street gamble to rescue Japan from its trillion-dollar meltdown (2003) OCLC 52334991

Latest work: Fool's gold: how an ingenious tribe of bankers rewrote the rules of finance, made a fortune and survived a catastrophe OCLC 232979264, 2009. Reviewed here by Dominic Lawson.


Current debate: *Can Europe pull back from the brink? - Can Europe pull back from the brink of total economic chaos? Newsnight's Paul Mason and the FT's Gillian Tett weigh up the options and make their predictions - 12th November 2011

Financial Times:

Column name:


Section: Markets

Role: FT Assistant Editor, US managing editor



Website: / Gillian Tett

Commissioning editor:

Day published:

Regularity: Varies

Column format:

Average length:

Articles: 2017

Articles: 2016

Articles: 2015

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2013

Articles: 2012

Articles: 2011

Articles: 2010

Articles: 2009

  • Organic mechanics - Science and finance: As better ways are sought to explain and even predict market behaviour, attention is swinging towards the links that sustain ecosystems - 27th November (with Clive Cookson and Chris Cook)
  • Philanthropy and bank bashing - It is difficult to imagine what was going through the brain of Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein when the bank announced a $500m initiative to help small US businesses - 23rd November
  • Flood initiative shows cross-border risk - The way that scientists in Reading are trying to measure flood risk has fascinating parallels with a topic now confronting G20 leaders – namely, macroprudential regulation - 10th November
  • Guard of the fortress - Banking: As Jamie Dimon plans the expansion of a JPMorgan Chase whose strong balance sheet kept it profitable in the crisis, it will be time to clarify his strategy - 13th October (with Francesco Guerrera)
  • Costly cogs, misfiring machine - A business at bay: More than two years since the credit crisis set in, investment managers face growing demands to justify what they buy for clients, the myriad fees they levy – and whether their vast industry serves anyone’s interest but its own - 28th September (with Kate Burgess)
  • Lunch with the FT: David Hare - The playwright talks to Gillian Tett about his latest work ‘The Power of Yes’ and explains why he cannot understand, let alone empathise, with bankers’ motives - 26th September
  • Insight: The ghosts of AIG prosper - It remains tough for regulators to assess whether risks are being handled sensibly, due to a paucity of counterparty data - 24th September
  • Watch Barclays in the cellar - ‘SIV’ has become almost as taboo a term as ‘subprime securitisation’. But Barclays ‘newly established fund’ called Protium Finance excites a twinge of déjà vu - 17th September
  • Market Insight: Banks can learn from football - I don’t know whether Lloyd Blankfein is a fan of English football. Right now, however, the head of Goldman Sachs might do well to peek at Chelsea football club - 10th September
  • Insight: A matter of retribution - How many financiers do you think ended up in jail after America’s Savings and Loans scandals? The answer can be found in a fascinating, old report from the US Department of Justice - 4th September
  • Could ‘Tobin tax’ reshape financial sector DNA? - Policymakers, politicians, investors and bankers must be willing to keep remaking policy as the world evolves - 27th August
  • Insight: Eliminate financial double-think - Regulators must start thinking more about power structures, vested interests and social silence - 20th August
  • Insight: Idea of ‘living wills’ is likely to die quiet death - Some western regulators are tossing the idea about whether lessons learnt from preparing for death could prove useful for the modern banking world - 13th August
  • Global insight: New world of supply chains - Securitised mortgages and manufacturing supply chains appear to have little in common. But in one respect they are alike: their embrace of globalisation - 12th August
  • The liquidity pipes remain clogged - Banks seem unwilling to use spare liquidity to engage in activity that regulators or shareholders might deem risky - 6th August
  • How Markit turned from a camera into an engine - When Lance Uggla, an entrepreneurial bond trader, created Markit back in 2001, he could have had little inkling that it would one day enter the US political spotlight - 16th July
  • Insight: US property market central to economy - A couple of weeks ago I visited West Virginia, USA, where some friends of mine run a small real estate business. As we sat in their yard on a balmy summer evening, I heard how realtors in this pretty, small town had been devastated by the housing crash - 9th July
  • Global Insight: Germans open can of worms - What are the Germans trying to hide? That is a question which has been furtively muttered in several European capitals, as the implications of a recent tussle about bank reform have sunk in - 8th July
  • Under restraint - With the securitisation market no longer driving western economies, banks and governments are casting around for lower-tech ways to fill the financing gap - 7th July (with Aline Van Duyn)
  • Insight: The human factor - The other day, a senior figure in the US government showed me some pieces of old paper he has taken to keeping in his pocket. These scraps, he solemnly explained, were used for jotting down words or numbers which he needed to remember or communicate to other officials – such as sensitive data about banks or the budget - 2nd July
  • Insight: SEC gets tough on Wall St tribalism - In recent years, Henry Hu, a finance professor of Texas University, has often been a thorn in the side of the banking world. In his academic research, Hu has repeatedly highlighted the systemic risks created by credit derivatives and other complex instruments - 25th June
  • Insight: When it comes to global banks, size matters - Do the big global banks need to be cut down to size? That question has been hovering, half-stated, over the financial system ever since Bear Stearns blew up - 18th June
  • Ringmaster of British finance rediscovers its muscles - Do you think that investors holding subordinated notes issued by banks should engage in a debt for equity swap? For some of Britain’s largest insurance groups, it has just become a pressing issue - 11th June
  • On the march - Financial markets: Turning turmoil to their advantage, large asset managers are challenging the privileged and lucrative position that banks gained during the boom - 9th June (with Aline van Duyn)
  • Insight: Crowded debt sales risks causing ‘auction fatigue’ - A few decades ago, when global financial markets rocked to a more gentlemanly tune, many western governments took an informal break from the business of selling their bonds during the summer - 4th June
  • Leverage creeps back on to the radar - Investors and policymakers have been scouring the financial landscape looking for green shoots - 1st June
  • Recovery not as easy as U, V, W - Are you expecting a “V” shaped recovery this summer? Or do you anticipate a scenario more like a “U” or a “W”? That is the question I have been asked repeatedly this month, as the debate about “green shoots” roars on - 28th May
  • Let battle commence - Derivatives: As the US administration tackles what it sees as a main cause of the crisis, an arcane and unruly industry is seeking to defend its lucrative turf - 20th May (with Aline van Duyn)
  • A lesson for bankers from the birds and the bees - The dynamics of the modern financial network make it comparable to other complex networks, such as rainforests - 2nd May
  • Global Insight: When boring becomes a virtue - A host of threats – such as the state of Swiss franc loans in eastern Europe – have receded in recent weeks. The real surprise has been the relative absence of stomach-churning shocks - 23rd April 2009
  • Finger of blame points to shadow banking’s implosion - The financial system needs to find a way to restart securitisation or we face a world where credit will remain a highly rationed commodity - 23rd April 2009
  • Chocolate coins are now deemed safer than gilts - In recent months the cost of insuring against a default on UK gilts has surged as investors have fretted about the ever-spiralling levels of British debt - 22nd April 2009
  • Gold standard debate roars on- in uncertain times, all that glisters is a gold standard - 9th April
  • A chance for bankers to refocus their talents - Most policymakers remain keener to bash former and potential bankers than to consider how to use their talents in the most economically rational way - 7th April
  • A task fit for Herculean policymakers - One dirty secret that hangs over the G20 meeting is that there is still precious little global consensus about how to tackle the toxic woes - 1st April 2009
  • Banking success amid the baked beans - Three years ago, Migros bank – the financial arm of the doughty Swiss supermarket chain – seemed stubbornly unfashionable - 30th March 2009
  • Insight: Elusive search for harmony - Hopes for a super-regulator may be far fetched, but investors need more transparency - 26th March 2009
  • Treasury hopes actions speak louder than words - When is a toxic asset not really “toxic”? When it is in the hands of the Wall Street and Washington spin machine, it might seem - 23rd March 2009
  • Insight: Where are the Gordon Gekkos? - Where is Gordon Gekko when you really need him? That is a question many financiers might ask right now. In recent days, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have railed against the antics of “greedy” speculators – and vowed to clamp down on unbridled risk-taking - 19th March 2009
  • Hope evaporates as confusion descends - A decade ago, senior US officials such as Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers often travelled to Tokyo and berated the Japanese for their endless procrastination in resolving their banking woes - 17th March 2009
  • Good idea that turned bad - What is most shocking is that no one in AIG – or in the ratings or regulatory world – appears to have spotted those risks before - 16th March 2009
  • Insight: US is ready for Swedish lesson on banks - Washington has summoned the head of Sweden’s debt office, presumably to glean tips on what it should do next - 12th March 2009
  • Lost through destructive creation - The Future of Capitalism: Greed, fraud, cheap money, managerial failure and lax oversight all played a part in bringing about the crisis – but at its heart was the complexity and opacity of modern finance - 10th March 2009
  • Insight: The financial world is stumbling blindly - This month, Sergei Polonsky, one of Russia’s largest and most indebted property developers, is trying to prevent powerful western banks from calling in their loans - 5th March 2009
  • Insight: Time to expose those CDOs - An open fire sale of collateralised debt obligations could be the least bad of some terrible options - 26th February 2009
  • Policymakers aim to raise oversight - A decade ago, western regulators used to fret about banks that were deemed to be “too big to fail” – in the sense of being so elephantine that they would shake the entire system if they collapsed - 23rd February 2009
  • Bunfight over Lehman dinner - No prizes for guessing what is worrying the delegates due to arrive in Davos (albeit probably not too visibly in their corporate jets) – some sessions were hugely oversubscribed - 27th January

Articles: 2008

  • Geithner gets the job done - Tim Geithner is not somebody who spends hours theorising about what could or should have been done according to any policy textbook; his focus is always on results, and to get them he will collect ideas, advice and opinions from wherever he can - 24th November 2008
  • Investors left dazed by violence of recent swings - A couple of years ago – or before banks started to go bust – economists sometimes liked to talk about a phenomenon they christened the “Great Moderation” - 27th October 2008
  • Insight: Volatility returns with a vengeance - Models are showing that the risk attached to almost any transaction has exploded upwards - 27th October 2008
  • Banks need time and luck as well as funds - Tokyo’s banking woes shows that while recapitalisation is often a necessary condition for resolving a banking crisis, it is not sufficient to heal the economic pain - 17th October 2008
  • Applause but slowdown and debt fears loom - As markets digested Tuesday’s news that the US plans to join Europe in making capital injections into troubled banks, western governments got a welcome round of applause. But the mood among most policymakers remains far from euphoric - 14th October 2008
  • Policymakers save world in the final reel - If – or when – Hollywood produces the film Apocalypse Averted: the 2008 credit turmoil, last weekend’s meeting of G7 ministers in Washington could offer plenty of drama - 13th October 2008
  • Markets throw one tantrum after another - For most of the past year, senior bankers have struggled to avert a collapse of faith in modern finance. Tragically, as this month’s events show, they have largely lost this fight - 10th October 2008
  • A startling shift from bumbling to sensible policy - This package suggests British mandarins have finally learnt to draw lessons from the past, notably from the 1990s crises in Japan and Sweden - 9th October 2008
  • Seeds sown in murky finance - Twenty-first century bankers have been acting like a BlackBerry-toting priestly class that assumed that only people who spoke the equivalent of advanced financial Latin should be allowed to attend mass - 2nd October 2008
  • US woes are a taste of honey for Japan - The US repeated Japan’s mistakes on a bigger scale. It is Japanese groups that are snapping up distressed names such as Lehmans - 23rd September 2008
  • The era of leverage is over - Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have packed a powerful historical punch, since their move to become holding companies essentially spells the end of the old broker-dealer business model, with its bold, buccaneering approach to life - 22nd September 2008
  • Calm must prevail in war of psychology - What the financial world needs is to heed the advice dished out in the second world war: just stay calm (preferably with a nice cup of tea). But the events of last week have left patience and sanity in short supply - 21st September 2008
  • RTC repeat may not end the drama - The current Washington debate on an RTC rerun suggests that policymakers have recognised the key problem behind this week’s crisis: that investors simply do not believe western banks have enough capital to cope with credit losses - 19th September 2008
  • Gridlock and panic follow loss of compass - Recent events have left investors and financial institutions so utterly disorientated, that there is widespread confusion about what anything might now be worth. The financial world, in a sense, has lost its compass - 18th September 2008
  • The boring is biting with a vengeance - One painful lesson for investors is that it is not just the smartest guy in the room who can blow up the system. The dull, plodding nerds can be lethal too - 17th September 2008
  • Making the abstract more human - A few years ago, Ron den Braber, an outspoken Dutch maths geek, was working in the risk department at the Royal Bank of Scotland when he became alarmed about the models being used to price collateralised debt obligations - 3rd July 2008
  • Beware the Japanese trap - Banks risk becoming addicted to the Fed and ECB’s emergency measures - 12th June 2008
  • The champagne flows no more - Bankers are dreaming up new forms of securitisation, but for now the salad days are over - 5th June 2008
  • A new wave of grime lurks - Banks could soon be hit by a wave of new problems in the leveraged loan market - 22nd May 2008
  • When tackling risk it’s good to talk - Most bankers would sooner die rather than discuss their doubtful deals with other groups - 15th May 2008
  • A race against time - Sentiment must stabilise and the system recapitalised before fresh signs of credit turmoil emerge - 8th May 2008
  • Triple A prices are out of sync - Why have the prices of triple A mortgage-linked securities slumped so dramatically this year? That question has recently caused anguished debate in the banking world - 1st May 2008
  • Commodity prices fall? Surely not - Where do the biggest counterparty risks currently lie in the financial system? If you were to ask a clutch of Wall Street bankers that question right now, many might point to the credit derivatives world – or perhaps the leverage finance sphere - 24th April 2008
  • Misplaced bets on the carry trade - Earlier this week, I asked a senior executive of one of the world’s most troubled investment banks when he had first grasped the meaning of the phrase “super-senior.” Sheepishly, he admitted that the moment was last August - 17th April 2008
  • Time for a hard look at banking oversight - This spring, a bout of witch-hunting has broken out on Wall Street. After the implosion of Bear Stearns, politicians, investors, regulators and lawyers having been eagerly casting around for someone to blame (if not send to jail) - 27th March 2008
  • The sacrificial lamb of Wall Street - Back in the days when I was a student of social anthropology, I used to spend time worrying about ritual sacrifice. For a common feature of many cultures is that they mark periods of stress with elaborate ceremonies accompanied by sacrifice – be it a tethered goat, hobbled chicken or something more gruesome - 19th March 2008
  • Election drapes ‘bail-out’ in a politically incorrect shade - When is a bail-out not quite a bail-out? When it occurs in a US election year, it might seem. Or that, at least, is the cynical thinking floating around some well-informed market minds - 13th March 2008
  • Credit experience left wanting at the top - Can you teach a geek to schmooze? Or is it easier to make a charming schmoozer into a geek? That is a question I have been mulling in recent weeks, with a growing sense of immediacy following the recent, surprise, revaluations at Credit Suisse - 21st February 2008
  • Is the monoline bail-out sensible? - As news of a possible bail-out of the monoline industry trickled out on Wednesday night, one senior investment banker in Davos sent an urgent message to his junior staff: crunch the numbers to work out whether this makes financial sense for the banks – or not. - 24th January 2008
  • Increasing pressure on the biggest banks - A couple of weeks ago, I chatted with the treasury team at one of the world’s largest investment banks. They were preparing for a frenetic time selling debt in late January and early February. - 10th January 2008

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