Monthly Archives: October 2011

This is Martin Wolf’s response* to Andrew G Haldane’s “Control rights (and wrongs)” Wincott Annual Memorial Lecture, on October 24, 2011

In this lecture, Andy Haldane, executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England, provides a compelling account of the development of western – above all British banking – over the past two centuries. He demonstrates the consequences of a progressive divorce between who controls the banks – shareholders and managers – and who bears most of the risks – society at large and, in particular, taxpayers.

Mr Haldane shows that each step along this road to ruin seemed reasonable, even inescapable. Yet the journey has ended up with over-leveraged behemoths that are too big to fail and, increasingly, too big to save.

Between one and a half and two centuries ago, it was common for equity to account for half of a bank’s funding and liquid securities to account for as much as 30 per cent of its assets. Financial sector assets accounted for less than 50 per cent of UK gross domestic product and the largest banks had assets of less than 5 per cent of GDP. Read more >>

Steve Jobs

Image by Getty.

I am a member of a cult. That cult is Apple. Its prophet was Steve Jobs. I am not a shareholder of the company. But I am – and have been for 31 years – a devotee of its products.

This started in 1980, with purchase of the Apple II for a World Bank research project I had promoted. I did not myself use the machine. But I could see the immense advantages of having such a computer for our own use rather than relying on remote access to a mainframe computer under someone else’s control. Read more >>