I’m reading This Could Be Our Future by (Kickstarter co-founder) Yancey Strickler at the moment. It rails against hyperfinancialisation and then provides a way of thinking about the world differently.
As this opinion piece in The Guardian points out, we need a way of thinking about politics and the market which isn’t driven (literally!) by investment bankers.
Rishi Sunak’s first job was at the US investment bank Goldman Sachs. He went on to spend 14 years in the sector before becoming an MP. In many ways, his unelected appointment marks the highpoint of big finance’s takeover of Britain’s political and economic system – a quiet infiltration of Westminster and Whitehall has been taking place over several decades and gone largely unremarked.
Looking at the coalition government, every senior figure who managed Treasury economic policy – George Osborne, Danny Alexander, David Cameron, Rupert Harrison, John Kingman and Nick Macpherson – later gained well-paid positions in the financial sector. And three of the last five chancellors have come from the sector. Jeremy Hunt’s current advisers all come from investment banking.
This matters because investment bankers have very little to do with the real economy that ordinary people inhabit. They don’t run businesses. They don’t deal with actual product and customer markets. Their work is confined to financial markets, aiding corporate financial manoeuvres, and trading and managing their own financial assets. Their primary aim is to make profits from such activities, regardless of how it affects the real economy, the national interest or employees. If that means shorting the pound or breaking up a successful company for quick profits, then so be it.
And an overpowered financial sector has certainly not been conducive to good governance, either. There’s nothing democratic about extensive public service cuts being used to pay for saving the private banking sector, as in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, or the bond markets determining the credibility of governments, or the fact that the bankers and hedge funds are the biggest single source of Conservative party donations. Nor is trust in British democracy likely to be enhanced by a super-rich PM who has allegedly avoided taxes and made a fortune as a financier at the nation’s cost.