Four issues at (or not at) the G-20 London summit

It looks like there will be some serious demonstrations to welcome the G-20 summiteers to London on 2 April. Protests will reflect anger at the human costs of the recession and a conviction (or hope) that the system has not only failed many ordinary people but is failing full stop. And there will be a lot of sympathy for the protests because it is hard to see the G-20 straightforwardly addressing the big problems. There are four in particular that could do with high-level attention. Continue reading

Iceland’s economic implosion, masculinity and the credit crunch

There are many analyses around about the credit crunch and how it originated. One of the best, most insightful and innovative gives an anthropological angle on how one part of the story unfolded. It looks at what happened in Iceland that let a small group of over-confident manly men turn a small country into a major player in world finance so fast that its economy imploded. Continue reading

The fog of uncertainty in a manic economic depression

In an interview published on 30 August last year, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Alistair Darling  revealed his view that the economic downturn was “arguably the worst” in 60 years. He was quickly dumped on for talking down the economy and the underlying analysis was gleefully trashed. Grim prospects, The Economist acknowledged, “But the worst outlook in six decades? Nonsense.” Perhaps Darling does not seem so nonsensical today, now that the economic depression is turning manic. Continue reading

Deflated in Davos? Impressions of economic leaders at work and play

News media have been reporting a deflated mood among the business leaders gathered in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum meeting. Some have even suggested an air of contrition and a bit of hair-shirt atonement, cutting down on the number of parties, ski-outings and suchlike. Perhaps that’s what they have seen and it’s all subjective and relative – but it’s not really what I’ve seen. I wouldn’t say the mood is upbeat, and of course there’s an awareness of the economic crunch all round. But what’s going on is a bit more subtle than mood-swings. Continue reading

Banks – a failure of service

Imagine how the world would look if banking were seen as a service, out of which profit can reasonably be made, as I suggested in my last post, instead of being seen almost exclusively as a profit-making business. Instead of thinking about the impact of two more grisly days for trading in bank shares on both sides of the Atlantic, let’s spend some time on how things might be different. Continue reading