In this broad-ranging, deeply researched review of modern banking and financial systems, analysts David Buckham, Robyn Wilkinson and Christiaan Straeuli unpick in parallel the ongoing erosion of trust in capitalist free markets and Western democratic institutions, and the directly related, unprecedented growth of the Chinese banking system. The former is a decades-long tale of intermittent market manipulation, inadequately regulated hubris and outright criminality, which produced the Global Financial Crisis, the most devastating financial meltdown since the Great Depression. The latter, which in various ways mirrors the conditions that led to the Crisis, may well prove worse. In detailing the unheeded lessons of financial history, the authors reveal how the inconsistently managed tension between free markets and government regulation has led us from depression and regulation to deregulation and crisis. And with incursions into string theory, the mathematics of cryptocurrency and the intricacies of money supply, we discover what happens when an authoritarian command economy fills the moral and ideological vacuum left behind. In a post-Covid world - in which we are witnessing booming stock markets entirely disconnected from real-world economic hardship, and communist billionaires propagating just as global inequality skyrockets - public trust in the international banking system has never been lower. This is an unprecedented survey of a fraught and complex landscape that has never been more urgent.