Dogs not Barking

Peter Doyle in The Financial Times:

Despite the 2007-12 UK finance-cum-macro catastrophe and its ongoing aftermath, the size and role of finance remains all but absent from British political debate.

By contrast and even with distractions, it is on US presidential candidates’ websites (though not in the Clinton/Kaine pot-poiler “Better Together”), in their stump speeches, occasionally in journalists’ headline questions to them, and it has a set of political slogans juxtaposing Wall and Main streets. Given other blind spots, an impressive fraction of US voters have heard of Dodd-Frank and/or Glass-Steagall.

This despite US finance being around 1/4 of its UK counterpart relative to GDP, and so having wrecked far less domestic carnage lately. Yet the British dogs are mute.

I pressed this issue at the recent “Monetary and Financial Policy Conference” in London. One panelist pointed to a document attached to the 2010 Tory manifesto (six years ago!); another respondent acknowledged that the issues “arise differently here”; and another said even traders (pros) in his finance firm did not know what the FPC was, without googling—so what hope for politicians or the general public?

The conclusion?

In short, there are far too many “bad apples” for the orchard to be regarded as sound. And in any case, politics cannot ultimately and should not be shut out: the attempt to do so partly accounts for the the enraged vote for Brexit and for Labour’s leftward lurch. Far better to seek ways to bring politics in more productively, to insist on the underlying fiscal and public interest, at a much earlier stage.

 

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