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Barclays - The Bank that Lived a Little

Mon, 9th Jul 2018

For decades, lending and banking were quite simple businesses. In the 90s, a lot changed and there were so many new forms of short-term trading. Swaps, futures, options and derivatives started to dominate the banking scene. The extra money from these things allowed the banks to go wild with loans for a while, but that wasn’t to last forever.

In 2007-2008, the financial crisis hit, and it became obvious that the sector had been artificially inflated. The journey of Barclays in chronicled in a new book from Philip Augar, called ‘The Bank that Lived a Little’. This book describes the change of the bank from an old Quaker financial institution into a capitalist company that craved adventure.

The book charts Barclays’ history up until relatively recently, including the Libor scandal, and considers the challenges that the bank has faced in that time, examining the actions and attitudes of the bank’s various chairmen, and considering the history of the bank in the wider contest of how other banks behaved as well, questioning whether the events of the financial crisis, the Libor scandal, and the Big Bang, were not just a symptom of over-reaching at Barclays but also a sign that banking in general has turned into a sector free from ethics. Were bankers over-paid and did they take risks that were too great with other people’s money? Quite possibly. Are we living in a dysfunctional world financially? Most likely, and the crypto-currency boom right now is a sign that some things in human nature may never change.

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