The Big Mo

Why momentum now rules our world


A compelling book – Financial Times

A revelation – Phillip Adams, author and broadcaster

A brilliant wake-up call – Joe Bageant, American social commentator


The Big Mo explores the fascinating – but little-understood phenomenon – whereby people become swept up in the flow of events, which then take on a life of their own.

The book explains why this momentum effect has become much more powerful in recent years, due to the rapid integration of technology, communications and markets, which generates momentum – or Big Mo – on a massive scale. As our world becomes more efficient and automated, there is less ‘friction’ to slow the momentum, which can lead to catastrophic results.

Roeder argues that this new dynamic encourages people to behave opportunistically, with less regard for the longer-term consequences of their actions. They become ‘momentum surfers’ who are willing to ride the wave rather than question its direction. He explains – in forensic detail – how this mind-set laid the foundation for the global financial crisis, the second Iraq War and numerous other recent debacles.

Momentum has become the Zeitgeist of our time. Paradoxically, in this new environment, a large sophisticated organisation or government can be just as susceptible to Big Mo as a weaker one, even more so. This is because momentum feeds on an organisation’s internal efficiency and integration to accelerate and magnify its impact. Which is why, for example, it was the most advanced financial institutions that were most susceptible to the global financial crisis.

As a former senior executive at the Swiss banking giant UBS, Roeder witnessed first hand the dangers of Big Mo. His research suggests that we know far less about the influence and workings of momentum, and particularly its ‘dark side’, than is generally assumed.

The Big Mo is a timely and provocative book that brings into focus a phenomenon that is having a profound, yet largely unexamined, influence on our world.