Explains the logic of the book, how it is thematic, rather than
chronological, and attempts to explore the concept and practice of thrift
via influential characters and specific eras in which it has proved a
particularly potent concept. Sets up the difference between the early
meaning of thrift as thriving, and its later meaning of frugality. Briefly
explores the implications of this shift from ethical concerns about the
human condition, to more pragmatic concerns about human habits.
Explains the relationship between democracy and thrift in the Second World
War home-front campaigns. Looks at make-do-and-mend in the UK and
Roosevelt’s ‘fireside chats’ in the US. Goes on to analyse the ways in which
this era has been used by current-day politicians and institutions to create
nostalgia, and argues this nostalgia is used to fuel acceptance of austerity
Explores the Puritan practice of thrift and belief in predestination.
Compares this to the Quaker practice of thrift for social justice and
equality, and the Methodist practice of thrift based on stewardship and the
responsibility to earn all one can, save all one can and give all one can.
Analyses the perceived link between individual liberty and religious
commitment and picks apart the individualism and collectivism embedded
within religious thinking on thrift.
Simplicity, sensuality and politics in Henry Thoreau
Explores Henry Thoreau’s rationale for living simply and his emphasis on
spirituality and sensuality via transcendentalist and Eastern philosophy.
Analysis his own relationship with both capitalism and asceticism and his
complicated mix of spiritualism and materialism. Finally looks at his
posthumously published manuscript – Wild Fruits – and discusses its status
as a potential blueprint for collective thrift.
Challenges the conventional version of economic history in which thrift is
portrayed as gradually fading into the background as consumer societies take
over. Argues in contrast that thrift (as frugality) has been a consistent
undercurrent to capitalism and aided its survival. Points to histories of
peasants, monks, revolutionaries, conservationists, environmentalists, civil
rights activists, philanthropists, social protestors, and others committed
to an ethos of restraint. Argues this alternative history of thrift can be
mapped philosophically as a strong lineage from Aristotle’s notion of
thriving, to Thomas Aquinas, to Marx, to Thoreau, and to present-day radical
This chapter traces the history of financial regulation in the UK. It challenges the widely held belief that the period from the 1980s witnessed a systematic process of deregulation. In fact, from the 1970s there was a period of increasing regulation up until the mid-2000s, when the government began to encourage a ‘light touch’ approach. The combination of all these factors meant that banks were ill-prepared to meet the financial crisis. In its aftermath, as the banks embarked on the slow path to recovery, making profits was essential. The traders seized any opportunity they could, and it may well be the case that banks were simply relieved that some areas of their business were profitable.
This chapter provides a brief history of LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate, tracing both market developments and the macro-economic and regulatory environment in which it was created. Beginning as an informal measure used in the London Eurodollar market of the 1960s, LIBOR made the transition to a formal benchmark in the mid-1980s, eventually becoming the most widely used benchmark in the world by the late 1990s.
This chapter begins with short histories of the London bullion market, including the development of the Gold and Silver Fixes. After the breaking of the LIBOR and foreign exchange scandals, suspicions soon emerged that the gold and silver markets were also being rigged. Initial investigations by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission found no evidence of this, but orders would later be issued against a number of figures, notably trader David Liew, and steps would be taken to protect the system from manipulation.
This book provides a compelling account of the rigging of benchmarks during and after the financial crisis of 2007–8. Written in clear language accessible to the non-specialist, it provides the historical context necessary for understanding the benchmarks – LIBOR, in the foreign exchange market and the Gold and Silver Fixes – and shows how and why they have to be reformed in the face of rapid technological changes in markets. Though banks have been fined and a few traders have been jailed, justice will not be done until senior bankers are made responsible for their actions. Provocative and rigorously argued, this book makes concrete recommendations for improving the security of the financial services industry and holding bankers to account.
This concluding chapter addresses the question of why so few senior bankers have borne the consequences of market manipulation carried out by their subordinates. It argues that the huge fines imposed on banks have failed, both in terms of justice and in terms of bringing about changes in culture and behaviour. Tracing the changes in the senior management regime from the 1990s to the present, it weighs up the possible means of ensuring that senior figures are held responsible in the future.