Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Voices from the past

At times like these, it's interesting to pull a few told-you-so quotes from the past. Here is a short selection from our quotations page, where you can also find links to the quotes.

There can be few fields of human endeavor in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. Past experience, to the extent that it is a part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of those who do not have the insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present.

John Kenneth Galbraith, A short history of financial euphoria

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.
Thomas Jefferson

At the core of the financial system remain the big banks, which are insured, explicitly and implicitly, by governments. Regulators have to ensure that excessive risk-taking is not going on, with the gains once again privatised and the losses shifted on to taxpayers.
Financial Times editorial, June 25, 2007

I may like many bankers, but I rather dislike banks. I recognise their necessity, but fear their irresponsibility. Worse, they are irresponsible partly because they know they are necessary. No industry has a comparable talent for privatising gains and socialising losses. Participants in no other industry get as self-righteously angry when public officials – particularly, central bankers – fail to come at once to their rescue when they get into (well-deserved) trouble.
Martin Wolf, Financial Times, Jan 15, 2008.

As Anthony Hilton wrote in the Evening Standard last week, β€œthe entire UK economy has become, in effect, a giant hedge fund with a massive one-way bet on financial services - and no Plan B for the day when the City goes off the boil.” If and when it does, the costs of the government's failure to understand the managerial economy will be high - for all of us.
Simon Caulkin, The Observer

Bad money drives out good.
Sir Thomas Gresham (c1519-1579), a merchant, financier and government under Elizabeth 1. This phrase is sometimes known as "Gresham's Law"

The whole culture of Anglo-American finance is increasingly subversive of regulation, taxation and democratic values, even where it remains within the law.
John Plender, "The hijack that made Enron happen", Financial Times, 28 January 2003

There are plenty more where those came from.


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