The Bishop And The Bankers



The financial crash of 2008 has led to the biggest economic crisis the country and the world has faced since the 1930s. Was this crisis a moral as well as an economic one, and if it was, what are the lessons that might be drawn from it? In this three part series the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, steps back from the technical analysis of risk and derivatives to consider the morality of individuals, organisations and the platform on which our economic system is built. He is joined by senior bankers, former bankers and opinion formers to reflect on why some people behave badly while others behave well, how you might build a virtuous company, and whether Capitalism encourages or discourages the human values that are needed for society to flourish.

The focus of today's programme is on individuals in the world of banking and big business, their personal stories, the dilemmas they faced, and how they ( and we) make moral choices. James hears from former city and Wall street traders about the effect on their behaviour of the culture of the city; - the long hours and testosterone, the speed of trading which leaves no time for reflection, and the competitive process during which the human story can be lost.

The programme begins in a casino - a metaphor, say some, of the mentality that characterised the recent behaviour of the bankers. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tells James about the buzz of closing a deal as an oil executive and how he found a way to resist the temptations that working in the industry offered. James discusses the extent to which individuals should take the blame for the crisis with Johnny Cameron, former head of RBS's investment division, and the chief executive of Barclays Antony Jenkins.


The focus of the second programme is on big business corporations and how they can become "virtuous." The programme begins in the church of the Square Mile with a look at "The rules for the conduct of life" - written in 1740 and still given to every freeman of the city of London about how to conduct trade. Today, Big Business is asking how it can build virtue into its staff and into its structures.

As part of this programme, James talks to Anthony Jenkins ,chief executive from Barclays, about how he is seeking to change the banks culture. James also explores the role of Corporate Social Responsibility Programmes with the CEO of KPMG, Simon Collins. How do companies make sure that these are consonant with their core purpose and not mere PR window dressing? And how does this commitment to a Good and Fair Society square with their work as tax advisors to big business?

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St Paul's cathedral - inside and out - has become a focus for the national conversation taking place since the financial crisis about the kind of people we want to be, the kind of society we want to live in and the economic systems that can support that.

The programme continues the discussion about how we build virtue into our society. What are the implications of that for the model of Capitalism we operate? What are the virtues of the market and of Capitalism that we must retain and those we must reject? Is the very idea of ethical Capitalism an oxymoron?

Joining James Jones to discuss these issues are Lord Skidelsky, Kerry Anne Mendoza, an activist from the Occupy movement, and Margaret Thatcher's former economic adviser Brian Griffiths.