Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 2,093 items for :

  • Manchester Political Studies x
  • Refine by access: All content x
Clear All
Abstract only
Emma Barrett

This chapter traces the Bank’s concerns and detailed planning, both in its own capacity and as tasked by the Government, throughout the Stock Exchange reform period. Overwhelming evidence that reforms emanated from the Government and Bank challenge the notion that the Big Bang was the ‘unintended consequence’ of government action and, indeed, the Bank’s official position, designed to carry the market, that reforms were practitioner-led. In the face of change, the Bank’s overriding aim was to maintain a central stock market, controlled and regulated by the authorities. Ensuring the Stock Exchange built and controlled the market’s electronic hardware and software was a means to this end, and guarded against fragmented, unruly markets. Ultimately, prudential regulation was sacrosanct whereas precise trading arrangements and even foreign ownership of firms were not. Control of the central market outweighed later stated objectives of attracting international capital and strengthening London as a world financial centre. Indeed, it was only after reforms had been agreed in principle that the Bank turned its attention to the impact of international capital and foreign competition on the City. An evolving awareness of the likely impact of reforms on British firms, stark choices and interventions to protect British interests show that then, far from embracing international capitalism, the Bank sought to protect national interests, often imperceptibly through the exercise of soft power. In the end, protectionism proved insufficient, but revealing intent challenges the ‘death of gentlemanly capitalism’ thesis which claims the authorities betrayed the City by not protecting it.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
Abstract only
Emma Barrett

This chapter shows how the elite stockbrokers Cazenove responded to the Big Bang deregulation of the financial sector, using social networks and inherited practices to navigate what was an ostensibly technical and modernising revolution. The Thatcher administration’s reform of the London Stock Exchange was an economic enterprise intended to end restrictive practices, open the City to competition and, Survival Capitalism argues, secure the mechanism for selling gilts. On the face of it, a more open meritocratic financial sector marked the ‘death of gentlemanly capitalism’ and coalesced with a political agenda for entrepreneurialism and popular capitalism. Yet this case study shows how Cazenove’s culture drove its strategy, that privilege and hierarchy were sustained by influential cross-sector networks, and that there was resistance to change, even though technological change and new financial instruments were embraced as part of a strategy which mixed innovation with tradition. Essentially, elite networks persisted in the 1980s deregulated economy as established relationships were used to optimum effect and became more important after Big Bang. A more mutually supportive relationship between finance and industry than has hitherto been imagined is also demonstrated. By showing how a modernising revolution was navigated using social networks and traditions, this chapter restores the role of culture to financial history. It contributes to a body of work in twentieth-century British history which challenges the perception that neoliberal ideas were consistently applied under Thatcherism and complicates the notion of a coherent Thatcherite project.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
Abstract only
Emma Barrett

Too often, Britain’s financial revolution has been attributed to the logics of market forces and new technologies. Reforms are deemed to have been inevitable, and often appear faceless. As the concluding chapter reaffirms, Survival Capitalism has sought to restore intent to this history. It has assessed responses to a whole range of factors by a host of actors and institutions as they reacted to threats and opportunities. It has traced an evolutionary process and shone light on the ways in which reforms were crafted by real people and shaped by their concerns and existing historically specific conditions. Accordingly, it has revealed the highly mediated and contingent nature of Thatcherite reforms and the constructed nature of markets – even international financial markets. Although informed by an over-arching philosophical framework, the Thatcher government was, in fact, as flexible and adaptive as the market approach it constructed. Deregulation was motivated by economic nationalism as well as free market ideology. The Government sought to deliver its monetary policy, maintain credibility and fund its reform programme at as low a cost as possible. It also sought to protect British interests and was not averse to intervening in markets when the need arose. Undoubtedly, the short-lived Truss administration applied the wrong lessons from British economic and financial history of the 1980s. As Big Bang 2.0 is an imagined growth strategy for the 2020s, Survival Capitalism is a timely reminder of the need to take seriously the importance of networks and culture when seeking to effect change.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
Abstract only
Emma Barrett

Chapter 1 examines the ideas and ideology that informed Thatcherism’s overarching free market philosophy, from the re-constitution of macro- and microeconomic policy to the introduction of free market reforms. These were crucial in shaping financial reforms but there was a parallel set of macroeconomic objectives which also drove reforms. With trade in government debt periodically halted by gilt-edged buyers’ strikes in the 1970s and early 1980s, and the real possibility that this could topple a government, being able to sell government debt at a time and in the quantity of the Government’s choosing was a form of statecraft. The Thatcher government’s preferred means to this end – the introduction of an auction system to sell gilts – required structural reform of the Stock Exchange system because auctions were technically impossible under existing rules. Having come to this conclusion, the Government sought to harness international capital (to redress the increased volatility associated with auction systems) and ensure new technologies were captured by the Stock Exchange for it to remain a relevant, central global market. Thus, capital and new technologies were not just forces for change, they were elements to be exploited and, in the case of technology, controlled – at least for the critical period. The chapter considers the legacies of Thatcherite financial reforms, including the establishment of a new consensus on Britain’s political economy as the City came to represent a growth model for the economy, and the ramifications – including the Government’s role in the origins of subsequent financial crises.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
Abstract only
Emma Barrett

Beset with the economic and political conditions of the 1970s, the Conservatives in opposition and early office were, according to insider Sir Adam Ridley, ‘dealing with what they thought were existential problems, about the survival of capitalism’. This chapter introduces the concept of ‘survival capitalism’ as a term for the responses and strategies that were developed by a myriad of actors and institutions in reaction to seemingly existential threats. They crafted these using networks of influence to ensure capitalism not only survived but thrived in a challenging period of global economic change. Ultimately, this led to the expansion of capitalism as it became an agent of change, driving popular capitalism. The chapter argues reforms were culturally informed and highly contingent while the role of capital was complex; it was harnessed by the nation state for reasons of statecraft and not simply a vector for change. The literature on Thatcherism, conservatism, neoliberalism, the City and the Big Bang is explored, and the stock market system explained. Methodologically, the focus is on archival sources and oral histories. The benefits of attending to culture and intent are expounded. Both cut across structure and agency and take account of circumstances, ideas, policies, culturally constituted institutional preferences and objectives, actions and reactions. Finally, structure is explained. The book begins with the authorities – the Government and the Bank of England – before moving to the London Stock Exchange which forms a bridge with two case study chapters on elite stockbrokers Cazenove and Lloyd’s of London.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
Abstract only
Emma Barrett

Chapter 5 opens with a White House ceremony in which the President of the United States presented five astronauts with the Lloyd’s Silver Medal for Meritorious Service in 1984. The British Ambassador deemed the ceremony ‘a brilliant stroke of public relations genius’ by Lloyd’s after it had successfully commissioned a space odyssey – at a cost of $180m – to recover two rogue space satellites. The event exemplified Lloyd’s pioneering spirit and leading edge in world insurance, signified it was a major force in the United States and hinted at Lloyd’s influence with government. This chapter’s ethnographic approach highlights tensions between tradition and modernity at Lloyd’s and show how beliefs, meanings and historic memory impacted modern business practices. Lloyd’s skilfully navigated Thatcherism, demanding government support and recruiting from government on the one hand and resisting government interventions on the other. Relationships with the British Embassy and the UK Treasury were successfully exploited when Lloyd’s strove to retain beneficial trading arrangements with the US to the relative detriment of US domestic companies. State intervention in, and protection of, markets extended to the ‘Reconstruction and Renewal’ of Lloyd’s in the 1990s, which amounted to an early example of a networked rescue package for an institution too big to fail. Challenging vested interests and ending restrictive practices is a hallmark of neoliberalism long associated with Thatcherism. Yet, by demonstrating government pragmatism, classical forms of governance, and the failure to disrupt privileged interests and restrictive practices, this chapter disrupts traditional understandings of Thatcherism and neoliberalism.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
Emma Barrett

This chapter opens with perhaps Sir Nicholas Goodison’s last interview on reform of the London Stock Exchange in which he reflected at length on his role and legacy. It explores the struggles of key individuals to formulate and sell a reform agenda and considers how modernising reforms were shaped by embedded habits, traditions and rules. Stressing continuities as well as change in the City, it describes the ongoing importance of relationships forged on the Stock Exchange floor and also highlights the enduring role of City clubs (where several interviews for the book took place). They helped to maintain an old order during uncertain times, for instance by vetting the credentials of newcomers. Using the new Douglas French Archive, the chapter also casts light on relationships between the City and government; shows how practitioners and enterprises understood the opportunities and threats they faced; and how practitioners sought to shape reforms. A mini case study of Barclays Bank explains its foray into integrated investment banking, while a focus on Warburg and Greenwell’s shows how the distinct cultures of these famous firms shaped their particular Big Bang strategies and the City more generally. Shining a light on the dynamic reform process, and the way it was shaped by networked individuals and embedded culture and practices, counters narratives of inevitability and underscores the historically specific nature of neoliberal reforms.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
Culture, contingency and capital in the making of the 1980s financial revolution
Author:

The 1980s financial revolution placed the UK at the vanguard of neoliberal free market reforms and is celebrated on the Right as a high point in capitalism. Usually, it is understood as the inevitable outcome of New Right ideas, global economic shifts, new technologies and free-flowing capital. Using archival sources and dozens of in-depth interviews, Barrett brings to life the people and processes involved in the making of the financial revolution. Survival Capitalism demonstrates the high stakes for capitalist institutions and unfolding responses to existential threats and opportunities. It offers insights into struggles and alternative possibilities and shows just how contingent outcomes were. Ultimately, reforms were driven by the authorities but shaped significantly by City practitioners as they navigated and contested change, informed by their cultures and traditions. Although financial reforms are associated with the Thatcher government’s supply-side reforms, Survival Capitalism shows how the Government’s quest for autonomy and monetary credibility, when faced with problems of selling debt, impacted the stock market mechanism. It therefore exposes the macroeconomic concerns which drove reforms in parallel with microeconomic drivers. The two converged, but this focus affirms that international capital and new technologies were not merely catalysts for change; they were harnessed by the nation state to support the domestic agenda. By restoring intent to this history, Survival Capitalism offers new perspectives on Thatcherism and its legacies. The focus on people and processes de-mystifies the perception of the ‘inevitable’ march of market forces and explains the survival of the cultures of capitalism.

Abstract only
Event, meaning and affect
J. Peter Burgess

This chapter analyses the hour-by-hour reactions to the attacks of 22 July 2011. Focussing primarily on television news coverage, it documents, puts into context then examines the events through the eyes of political and social leaders who dominate the public discourse. The chapter also analyses the way that news media interpreted what the public reactions were, how they should be interpreted in context and what the more general politial impact of these experiences might be. It begins with coverage of the very first hours after the attack when confusion and uncertainty reigned. It continues with an analysis of the first official press conference by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice. The chapter then develops a larger reflection on the role of values in shaping what the facts of the event were understood to be, and reflects on the political nature of any analysis of the threat or danger, and the role that values play in shaping politics. The chapter then turns to the rise and fall of the collective spirit in the Norwegian self-understanding and the role played by the royal family in maintaining that spirit. It concludes with an analysis of the famous Rose March, a unique enactment of solidarity that structured the threats realised on 22 July as threats to the national ‘we’.

in Security after the unthinkable
Abstract only
J. Peter Burgess

This chapter looks beyond the book’s findings and suggests a range of social, political, moral and metaphysical implications about security and disenchantment that open up. It begins with a discussion of the processes of memorialisation of 22 July 2011 and the continuities and discontinuities they produced. It then turns to a brief summary of the bureaucratic reforms undertaken as a direct consequence of the attack in order to draw conclusions about the temporality of the aftermath. Questions about what changed, what can be changed and what should be changed are raised in order to ground a series of arguments and commentaries about the philosophical sense of security and insecurity and about the way this is experienced. The chapter closes by admonishing the dangers of the bureaucratic closure so typical of our time, suggesting that bureaucracy does not inoculate against the malady of insecurity but may indeed anaesthetise against it.

in Security after the unthinkable