By Dominic Elliott
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
By Edward Chancellor
The author is a guest columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
What is the glue which holds an economy together? Disciples of Adam Smith would argue that self-interest serves as the organising principle. The problem with this way of thinking is that it overlooks the fact that man is not an island unto himself. He is a social animal, who must have constant dealings with other people. Besides, according to John Maynard Keynes, it is impossible to pursue our self-interest rationally, because we don’t have enough information to make probabilistic judgments about the future. Instead, we must rely on irrational animal spirits as a spur to action.
I was unceremoniously kicked out of my last job in finance early in 2004. It was a career turning point for me after 24 years as an equity analyst at eight firms – brokers and investment managers – in both the United States and Europe. I took shelter in financial journalism. Much has changed in the money business since then. But reading about the behaviour that has led to a litany of huge fines, I fear that too much remained the same, at least until very recently.