Rein in the greedy bankers?

Saturday 16 May, 11.45am until 12.45pm, The Great Hall

This has been described as the ‘first financial crisis of the global age’, and all members of the G20 have conceded there have been ‘systemic failures in the financial services industry’. More popularly, banks are seen as being to blame for bringing on the crisis through risky investments in complex financial instruments. The ‘greedy banker’ as a personification of evil has been targeted by everyone from the Archbishop of York and Vince Cable (‘luckily the British have no guillotines in stock’) to activist vandals who attacked Fred Goodwin’s home, and ‘rioters’ who heaped abuse on city workers at the G20 protests. But are we in danger of stigmatising business success altogether, and endorsing the politics of envy?

Does demonising bankers mean fetishising the financial sector as the sole cause of our economic problems? If the problem is located solely in finance, inevitably the answer focuses mainly on that sector. But are the only solutions to today’s problems really ‘tougher global financial regulation’ and ‘a more robust financial architecture for the future’ to restore the credibility of banking? Is finance the core problem for economic growth, and is today’s solution of shuffling money around, even printing new money, really an answer to a deeper atrophy of economic activity in the West? Or should we see finance as just one part of a bigger picture demanding a more comprehensive response?

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Other formats are available here

Daniel Ben-Ami
journalist and author, Ferraris for All: in defence of economic progress and Cowardly Capitalism

Nick Kochan
financial journalist and economic analyst; co-author (with Hugh Pym), What Happened?: And Other Questions Everyone Is Asking About the Credit Crunch

Michael Skapinker
assistant editor of the Financial Times; FT columnist; editor, FT’s special reports

Dr Tim Young
visiting fellow, economics department, University of York; formerly, Trading Manager, Bank of England.

Stuart Simpson
financial services professional; researcher and writer, emerging economies and quantitative finance

Produced by
Festival Buzz

"No word was untested, no argument taken for granted, no opinion dismissed without argument nor accepted without argument."
David Jones, professor of bioethics, St Mary's University College