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'A strange power and fascination' - good and bad money debated at St Paul's

Our modern-day relationship with money has been put under scrutiny as an illustrious panel came to St Paul's to debate whether there was such a thing as 'good money'.


The panel debate, held underneath the dome of St Paul's on Tuesday, May 7, saw Lord Robert Skidelsky give a key note address to an audience of more than 900.


In his address, Lord Skidelsky looked widely at the work of economist John Maynard Keynes and said: "It is not money itself, but 'love of money' which, according to the Bible, is the root of all evil. Money is simply a servant of our wants. It is the wants themselves which need scrutiny.

"Money itself is almost completely useless. You can't eat it, or wear it, or make love to it...But it has always exercised a strange power and fascination."

He went on to talk about the growth of money to a point now where it has become the 'measure of almost everything' and then touched on how the banks' relationship with money was a problem: "In the years leading up to the crisis bank loans to the real economy increased by 50% while they grew by 260% to the financial sector. In other words, banks were increasingly lending to themselves, a good example of money breeding money."

He ended with the thought: "The worship of money as a possession rather than as a means to the 'enjoyments and realities of life' is bad."


Joining Lord Skidelsky on the panel to discuss the role of Good Money in the City, were Tarek El Diwany, Senior Partner at Zest Advisory LLP; Ann Pettifor, Director of PRIME (Policy Research in Macroeconomics); and Paul Sharma, Deputy Head of the Prudential Regulation Authority. The event was chaired by Stephanie Flanders, BBC Economics Editor.

All panel members responded to the initial address before the audience was asked to contribute questions.

Good Money was the second of three debates under the topic,The City and the Common Good: What kind of City do we want?

Organised by St Paul's Institute, in conjunction with CCLA, investment manager for charities, churches and local authorities, the series of debates under the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral seek to stimulate public dialogue on the role of the financial sector in society today.

Canon Mark Oakley, Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, said of the series: "The former Archbishop of Canterbury often reminded us that the word economy has its origins in the word for housekeeping. A household is somewhere where life is lived in common, an attempt to stabilize that common life into an environment where its members grow and flourish in useful ways and where the vulnerable members are protected. It is that common life, of wanting to bring back conversation to the structure of economic life with an intelligent and fearless scrutiny about our choices and long-term goals, that is at the heart of this series.”

Tweets from the debate can be viewed under the #CommonGood hash tag.

Future events:

Good Banks – Wednesday 12 June – 6.00pm
Archbishop Justin Welby with Antony Jenkins and others
The relationship between banks and society has been described in the aftermath of the financial crisis as a ‘social contract’, but what is the objective of the contract? What is the purpose of banking and how do we foster a culture that helps that purpose be realised?