Events - 01.05.2012 - 00:00 

“The banking system controls us”

On the occasion of the public lecture, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach discussed “Finance: self-serving or socially valuable – is it too late to make the case?” with Douglas J. Flint and Tomáš Sedlácek.
Source: HSG Newsroom


3 May 2012. The argument has been doing the rounds for many years that there is fundamental division between ethics and finance. In the course of the global financial crisis, politicians and the general public are in equally high dudgeon about how the finance industry operates, how and where money is invested and how remuneration structures work. This was the basis on which Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, tackled the topic.

Three factors for the crisis
Lord Griffiths and Douglas J. Flint (Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings plc.) explained how the finance industry operates. Three factors were among those that had led to the financial crisis: excessive salaries, the production of socially useless products, and conflicts of interest.

Tomáš Sedlácek (Chief Macroeconomic Strategist at CSOB Bank, Czech Republic) followed the same line but said that these factors did not only apply to bankers but also to athletes, singers and actors, for example.

“The spirits that we called”
Sedlácek compared the banking system with the old concept of misconstrued objects: one object was created to help us and to make our lives easier. Through an act, this object was “made alive” and started to control us rather than vice versa, golems and Aladdin’s lamp being cases in point.

The “one” ring in Lord of the Rings is another such object. The ring was forged by the evil ruler of Mordor, and at the end of the novel, Mordor was devastated through the destruction of the ring. The ring was never under control; it had a life of its own, and its bearer became its tool.

Photo: Hannes Thalmann