Mark Sibthorpe on how Jonathan Swift informs the banking crisis

Written by Mark Sibthorpe Wednesday, 04 July 2012 01:49
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Jonathan Swift, in 1729, suggests that impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.
Unfortunately for today`s consumers, banks have may have discovered this essay, and appear to have missed the fact that it was intended as satirical hyperbole. The result is that they have implemented a literal interpretation of the essay, details of which are chronicled in Realini`s book
Facts that support this are shown when financial institutions admit fraud (BofA), fix prices (Libor scandal UK), and steal funds (MF Global) from their clients with minimal regulatory backlash.

What is interesting, and a point which makes the parallel with Swifts essay more relevant is the interpretation that Swift was not just attacking the aristocracies views towards the poor (consumers), but also the general means to which authorities tried to address the problems.

For example, according to Wittkowsky, a memorable example of these sorts of schemes "involved the idea of running the poor through a joint-stock company" (Wittkowsky, Swift’s Modest Proposal, p85). In the modern example, instead of penalizing banks, governments have rewarded them with money and great golden parachutes.
Realini chronicles the events and decline that has led to general dissent as shown in the `Occupy Wall Street` movement and offers a slap in the face for regulators in this must read book.
Mark Sibthorpe is the author of A Merchant's Guide to Credit and Loyalty, also published by Searching Finance. Sharing the same publisher as Carol didn't influence Mark's review. Honestly. Searching Finance would still have published a negative review of one of its own books. Honestly.
Last modified on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 10:10

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