A refreshing perspective on bankers

The last organisation I worked for was a media company. Among a staff packed with lefties were three libertarians, including myself. Now I work for a bank, with far more staff in the building and I know of three libertarians. So, per head, the bank has fewer libertarians than the media company. I find this surprising.

Why aren’t more bankers drawn into the movement? Surely we are pro-banker? We are pro-market. We distrust most of the worst banker-bashers and to my ears at least we don’t take part ourselves. We even have useful investable economic ideas. Bankers should be paying attention and feeling welcome.

Perhaps this is not true of other bits of the libertarian movement? At Benevolent Laissez Faire our keynote speaker Yaron Brook certainly seemed to think so. He described the “hatred of bankers” as “universal” even in our community. Interesting.

The rest of Yaron’s segment on bankers, below, is refreshing and delightful. Yes bankers play an important role and as professionals engaged all day in difficult choices about confusing measurements of reality – as people engaged constantly in truth discovery – there is nothing more noble that pursuing truth, even and especially for profit. 

If we managed to separate state and banking, then this would be plain to see.


The Prevalence of Crony Capitalism

Yaron Brook, President and CEO Ayn Rand Institute, was the Libertarian Home Benevolent Laissez-Faire conference keynote speaker. He is a passionate and most engaging speaker. It was a delight to listen to him.

His main thrust was we should not care about income (I think that also means wealth) inequality.
I well remember Margaret Thatcher trying (badly) to explain it at Prime Minister’s Questions some 26 years ago. She was using her hands and fingers to display higher income and wealth for all, even if some were gaining more than others. The Socialists would rather much less for those at the top, so the bottom would get more. Of course the reality is (look at any Socialist state anywhere, anytime eg Venezuela, N Korea, Soviet Union, China, France, UK, USA etc) and what you get is a few at the very top getting richer and richer, and a falling middle class and an impoverishing poor.

And Mr Brook is absolutely correct. In a free market the rich may (and do) get richer but so does everyone else… if they take advantage of the opportunities of free markets. Those who sit watching Jeremy Kyle will get what they get ie not a lot.

The question from the floor (well, me) arose: But we don’t have free markets!? And the response was the top 400 are enormously rich because, like Buffett, Gates and Walton, they are / were geniuses and hugely successful entrepreneurs and they made wealth because they provided something that everyone else wanted or successfully won due to the inefficiencies of the financial system etc.

Well, fine I said. But – in UK terms – the next 900, of the top 1000, are there because of cronyism i.e. banking (and hedge funds) and property.

To which Mr Brook responded with the hedge funds and markets inefficiencies view. They don’t I tried to tell everyone. Largely, they simply go with the flow and lever up. Without cronyism – bailing out banks, QE, ZIRP, Help To Buy etc etc they wouldn’t be able to do that.

Astoundingly, as I recall it, he said or suggested there is no cronyism. I see on Twitter he denies that. The recording will confirm or correct me.

Eventually, he relented and acceded that perhaps 20-30% of folk make money from cronyism.
Now, it is not the point what the percentage is. (It’s much higher in my view in the short term.) But it took a concerted effort on my part to get him to say even THAT. Why does it take a concerted effort from a Libertarian, who is one of the strongest proponents of free markets in the UK, to get the President and CEO of the Ayn Rand Institute to publicly accept there is any cronyism? I can’t fathom it. I would love to hear his logic.

I tell you, in debate with the likes of Galloway, Mr Brook’s argument would be demolished by such a series of mis-statements and the issues he puts forward would be lost to the audience.
Free marketers have it hard enough without such an eminent individual – on our side – potentially making it harder by swatting away obvious realities.

This piece is meant to be constructive. Some or many will see it differently. As Mr Brook might say “That’s your prerogative” and I would 100% agree to that!

Jonathan Davis is a Chartered Financial Planner, an economist and a wealth manager. He is also the presenter of The Booms and Busts Show on talk2meradio.com Download the free app.
The show is about markets, free markets, capitalism and libertarianism – not necessarily in that order. Live Mondays 2-3pm and 24/7 on the podcast.

LATER: the video, already which post-dated the words, has been amended to include the full back-and forth with Jonathan and Yaron.

New Sessions at Benevolent Laissez Faire

Just a few days to go to the Benevolent Laissez-Faire conference, and we are very excited to welcome you at De Morgan House (the new venue).

We have a few exciting additions to the event which we delighted to inform you about:

Dr Syed Kamall, MEP will be returning to talk about his views on non state alternatives for the provision of welfare. His talk last year on ‘Poverty Solutions without Politics’ at our Libertarian Home Thursday drinks event inspired a lot of discussion and we are very excited to have him back.

Dr Yaron Brook, our keynote Speaker, will be available to sign his new book ‘Equal is Unfair’ after his talk. Copies of his book will be available at a discounted price of £10. Book signing will start around 5pm.

The revised schedule with the above additions is now available. Please buy your tickets as soon as possible to help in our preparation for the event.

Benevolent Laissez Faire Conference Schedule

Our “Benevolent Laissez-Faire” conference will be held on May 14th at De Morgan House, Russel Square. Tickets cost from £5 to £15 and are available on Meetup and Eventbrite:


12:30 – Conference Registration / Check-in

12:45 – Introduction by Simon Gibbs

13:00 – Poverty Solutions Without Politics – Syed Kamall

Syed Kamall is chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament and a stood against Zac Goldsmith for the Conservative mayoral nomination the recently concluded election. The overriding theme of his domestic political career is his interest in community and technical solutions to social problems – outside political institutions [Bio]

13:30 – DIY Governance – Janina Lowisz, BitNation and Julio Alejandro, Humanitarian Blockchain

This decade’s standout technological breakthrough is the blockchain – a consensus driven public ledger which allows arbitrary records to be kept on any topic. See how this amazing new technology permits the delivery of services normally associated with nation states and how it revolutionises the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

14:15 – Break

14:35 – Historical Precedents for Laissez Faire Welfare – Dr Anton Howes PhD (KCL)

What happened before the NHS? Before Job Centre Plus? If it was mere charity how did it scale to providing coverage to the majority of the population? Can we return to these precedents? Anton Howes has been recently award a doctorate in history for his analysis of the ideological changes that enabled Britain to enjoy the Industrial Revolution [Bio]

15:20 – Refreshments break (Tea, Coffee, Sandwiches provided)

15:55 – Capitalism and Inequality [Keynote] – Yaron Brook, President and Executive Director, Ayn Rand Institute

Capitalism – the system of private property and free-markets – is the only ethical system and the only system which maximises individual flourishing. It is a just system in its entirety, including the unequal outcomes it permits. Dr Yaron Brook is a tireless advocate for Objectivism and the implementation of a laissez-faire economic system [Bio].

16:55 – Break and Book Signing – pre-order your copy of Equal is Unfair when you buy tickets via Eventbrite.

17:05 – Panel Discussion: Principled Incremental Transition – How do we get there from here?

Panellists will discuss how to arrive at a Laissez Faire economy, blending US and UK perspectives. We will discuss opportunities in revolutionary approaches, succession, counter-economics etc, and what can and should be done about the escalating furore over tax planning and avoidance.

18:00 – Networking (Drinks provided)