Economics and Business
Explores ideas of de-growth and post-development and their often ecological underpinnings. Relates such ideas to increasing concerns around the Anthropocene. Ideas around collectivity and reciprocity as part of thrift are analysed and related to the idea of thriving. The Voluntary Simplicity movement is looked to as a case study of thrifty living, and its potential for genuine societal change considered.
Looks at the secularisation of thrift through the influence of Benjamin Franklin, and his belief that one can work one’s way into heaven; in other words that salvation can be earned. Explores Victorian writers such as Wharton and Dickens, as well as Samuel Smiles and his emphasis on individual responsibility and self-improvement. Finally, compares today’s austerity policies and emphasis on household economia to Victorian thinking and the influence of Disraeli’s One Nationism.
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 policies.
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.
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 green movements.
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.