Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ross McKibbin contrasts manufacturing and banking

"Ross McKibbin ... paints a brilliant picture of the state of government in the UK," said Greenwich Liberal the other day after reading Ross McKibbin in the London Review of Books.

I am not sure I would go quite that far - a lot of McKibbin's discussion of the government is guesswork - but this observation on wider British society is spot on:
Manufacturing takes place within the social world. Different kinds of people have an interest in it and its success or failure has observable social effects. Banking and finance, though we need them, are now asocial activities. 
When banks still had managers and close links to their local communities their attitudes were not so different from those of their clients. That is much less true now. The making of money, often a great deal of it, takes place in an enclosed world where long-term consequences are not considered. There has always been some feeling of separateness in banking and finance, but it has become much more pronounced in the last twenty or thirty years. 
The testosterone-fuelled atmosphere in the trading rooms bears little resemblance to most workplaces, except perhaps to the newsroom of the Sun or to 10 Downing Street during the last Labour government.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention - yes perhaps my enthusiasm for McKibbin had got a little out of hand! Even so it's a good piece. I witnessed at first hand the testosterone fuelled trading floors and they were, and are, bubbles where the outside world (by which I mean real life) seemed light years away. If the existing laws had stayed and the casino style had remained separate then there would have been problems but nothing like the disaster we had. Thatcher (scrapping single capacity) and Clinton (scrapping Glass Steagal) with Gordon Brown and Alan Greenspan as prime supporters are the main political architects of the nightmare in my opinion. They should have listened to people like Arnold Weinstock.