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Finance industry must restore fairness and honesty without diminishing profit ?

Many of the founders of modern finance -- families whose names have been dragged through the mire of Libor and other scandals -- built their banks on Protestant principles. Their aim was simple: encourage thrift and enterprise to deter sin and sloth. They were not promoting get-rich-quick schemes and did not have corporate social responsibility departments.

These pioneers taught a crucial lesson: that saving was a route out of poverty and enterprise could be rewarded. It was a social responsibility in itself. And they realised an essential truth: financial institutions serve a society, they do not command. As these banks succeeded, so did the country.

Napoleon's jibe that Britain is a nation of shopkeepers was true because sober financiers helped people buy stock and start businesses. The Industrial Revolution transformed the nature of labour but the financial revolution democratised opportunity. That is why capitalism matters: no other system of economic organisation has liberated more people.

-- Tom Tugendhat


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