The Greed Merchants - How the Investment Banks Played the Free Market Game by Philip Augar Penguin, $135 By Philip Augar's calculation, investment banks have sucked US$180 billion out of capital markets over the past 20 years. The former head of global equities at NatWest and Schroders says the money went to the banks' shareholders and employees, usually one and the same. Augar seems to not much like modern investment banks and says so in The Greed Merchants. Edmond Warner, who is in finance himself and reviewed this book for The Observer, wrote that the aforementioned cost was calculated as 'the excess on capital generated by the investment banks relative to other industries, and the greater rate of earnings growth enjoyed by bankers than the average worker in those industries'. Competition in a free market should mean no excess, but Augar reveals that the operating practices of the investment banks - and he's talking about the ones that came after London's Big Bang and US liberalisation - are dodgy at best. He covered the demise of the City in The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism (2000), and there's more than a whiff of scandal here.