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Five big policies to build a better capitalism

This morning, at a venue very close to UnHerd’s own offices, a speech entitled The Right Environment for Growth – reforming capitalism for the 21st century was delivered by Michael Gove. The Environment Secretary is the leading provider of grand intellectual strategy to today’s Tories, of a calibre which could well match the potency of what Keith Joseph gave to Margaret Thatcher’s governments 40 years ago. 

Two members of the UnHerd family – Paul Marshall and Juliet Samuel – were appearing alongside Gove, as members of the panel which responded to his speech. It will be interesting to see what emerges. Reforming capitalism is one of our driving motivations here at UnHerd and we have already published many thought-provoking pieces on the subject. These contain compelling insights on what went so spectacularly wrong in financial and related markets in 2008, and suggest ways forward  for global governments who, despite the passage of a decade, have been excruciatingly slow to adequately reset public policies. Their inaction has given the likes of Trump and Italy’s new government the opportunities for power that are being seized with such relish.

I’ve chosen just five from our 11 month archive:

  • In a chilling contribution, Liam Halligan complains that the ‘too big to fail’ problem that was at the heart of the ’08 crash still hasn’t been solved. Only a clear separation between those banks that provide vanilla services to households and those which are immersed in speculative investments can, he writes, maximise protection of taxpayers from demands for ANOTHER bailout.
  • And also on the theme of avoiding concentration of economic power in too few hands, Harriet Maltby profiles the EU commissioner that enjoys the admiration of even many staunch euroscceptics. Meet the scourge of monopolies Margrethe Vestager – “the eurocrat who shows the middle finger to big business”.
  • To deliver greater social justice, Charlotte Pickles makes a case for greater taxation of wealth. Although the situation varies from country to country the really pronounced spikes in inequality have been in ownership of property and other assets. Income inequality has not seen anything like the same intensification.
  • Within an audio documentary made by Juliet Samuel, the economic historian Niall Ferguson urges more focus on the failure of western education and welfare systems to prepare people for effective participation in the global economy. He saw state failure as the greater explanation of current discontents… and he might well be right.
  • And fifth, and finally: Douglas Carswell’s critique of central bankers. The former MP charges the hugely powerful and largely unaccountable herd of central bank chiefs with being responsible for the easy money policies that inflated the pre-bust boom. They nearly all failed to moderate the frenzy in housing markets, in particular, with the kind of preventative, precautionary measures that were the hallmark of their predecessors from what were largely more prudent times.