Dangerous banks: can we tame them?

Banks were once kept on a tight leash, but almost four decades of neo-liberal free market ideology let them loose on the global economy. The financial crisis of 2008, which continues today, showed how banks can be a danger to society, to their own shareholders, and cause harm to the poorest in developed nations as well as the Global South. Only bank executives, it seems, are untroubled by the ensuing economic and social turmoil. Can banks be domesticated to serve society, protect the environment, spread prosperity and uphold social justice? Why is banking totally unlike other industries? Do the roots of instability and injustice lie deep in the very nature of modern money? Tony Greenham is a former investment banker turned social and environmental campaigner. He heads the Business and Finance Programme at nef (the new economics foundation), advises the board of grassroots movement the Transition Network, and also sits on the government’s Regional Growth Fund advisory panel.