December 19, 2012

John Kay, when at the bar, you’d better ignore those too respectful of the establishment!

Sir, I refer to John Kay´s “To grasp the meaning of Christmas, head down to the pub”, December 19. My first impression was he was building up an alternative explanation for why he preferred to go to the bar with Gillian Tett than with Martin Wolf, without having to state the obvious. 

But then Kay ends with “if you want to understand, the 2007-08 financial crisis, your approach must be eclectic… and, of course, you need anthropological insights that accounts for the peculiarity of human institutions”; and which makes clear that the bar visit he refers to has solely a professional motif.

For about a decade I have forewarned and explained the 2007-2008 crisis, as caused by giving banks excessive incentives for exposures to the ex-ante perceived as “The Infallible”, that which is truly dangerous because it is perceived as absolutely safe; just as getting out of the crisis is now made almost impossible by discriminating against the access to bank credit of “The Risky”, those already safely known as "risky". And though I am an economist and not an anthropologist, I know I am right. 

And so perhaps what John Kay most needs as company when heading down to the bar to talk about the crisis, has nothing to do with the profession but with the willingness of, "without fear and without favour", profoundly question the professional capacity of the establishment.