The Rockstar Banker’s Christmas hit

  • Simon Thompson
  • 4 December 2020
  • Blog | Blog

If, like me, you’re already tired of the Christmas hits on radio, miss John Peel’s ‘Festive 50’ and would rather listen to something more thought-provoking, then I can highly recommend Mark Carney’s Reith Lectures (BBC Radio 4), on the subject of “How We Get What We Value”.  If this sounds a little dry, don’t despair, as in his first of 4 lectures, “From Moral to Market Sentiments”, the former Governor of the Bank of England does touch on the economics of gift giving at Christmas.  His first lecture also contains one of the best summaries of Adam Smith’s collected thought, and critique of those who only quote very select passages in support of free markets, I’ve heard - and is well worth listening to for that alone. 

His main aim, though, in this and subsequent lectures is to explore the relationship between financial value, and ethical, human, and societal values.  How have our values shaped markets?  How are markets shaping our values?  How has this contributed to a trio of crises: credit, COVID-19 and the climate emergency?  Where might we look for solutions?  What role can policymakers, finance professionals and others play in building sustainable markets and societies based on human-centred values rather than financial value?  These are all questions of great relevance to Chartered Bankers, banking students and finance professionals in general, and we should all be listening to, and reflecting on, what Mark Carney has to say.  Although feel free to avoid the questions from the invited audience of the likes of Ed Balls and George Osborne – I think the BBC could have done much better here.     

From a neo-classical economic perspective, we must value Slade, Wizzard and The Pogues a great deal based on their radio airplay and downloads at this time of the year.  But on the basis of his record at the Bank of England, as the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and now for his Reith Lectures we should, I suggest, all be adding Mark Carney’s Reith lectures to our Christmas playlists, and derive very considerable value from the thoughts of the pre-eminent central banker of our time.  


Simon Thompson, Chief Executive