‘Socially useless’ financial services
It would seem like stating the obvious, after an orgy of destructive property lending and the creation of trillions of dollars of toxic derivatives, to claim that much global banking activity has served society not a jot. Why, then, the outburst of righteous indignation from politicians, academics and editors when the Chairman of the FSA makes the point in a round table discussion?
It is a pity that Adair Turner’s other remark in Prospect magazine, about the merit of nations cooperating to levy a tax on international financial transactions, should have distracted attention from his more important observation about the waste of talent and resources, as well as the human cost to society, of binge banking.
International competitiveness in financial services cannot possibly be worth this cost. Anyone who is fundamentally uncomfortable with the modern curse of relativism, or the unwillingness to make absolute value judgements, is likely to have welcomed Lord Turner’s plain speaking.
Far from it not being his place, as head of the financial service regulator in the UK, why do we not demand that people in positions of authority give the moral and intellectual steer that public policy so often lacks?