The Good, the Bad and the Greedy
Martin Vander Weyer
Capitalism – once a great engine of human progress – has lost its moral compass, lost public trust and is urgently in need of repair. This has become a familiar refrain since the global economic downturn and has worsened through the pandemic.
The young of today tend to regard wealth and its creation as alien to the society in which they wish to live, rather than essential to its well-being. Yet, they also regard personal debt, through credit cards and consumer loans, as a matter of entitlement, rather than burden, and have lost the frugal habit of saving that helped their parents’ generation build better futures for themselves.
The Good, the Bad and the Greedy examines how distortions of capitalist mechanisms, and public attitudes towards them, might be rebalanced and how capitalism will be at the forefront of society’s recovery from coronavirus.
This seminal critique, written from the point of view of a deep admirer of entrepreneurship and private sector investment as a proven path to innovation, social progress and prosperity, argues that businesses always operate in a social context – that a ‘good’ business in a moral sense can also, in a perfect world, be a business that richly rewards its creators and backers – so long as the basic principles are right.
Putting aside the nonsense of corporate virtue signaling, Vander Weyer formulates a number of core principles, separating out ‘the good’ and ‘the bad’ in today’s corporate arena – and placing the spotlight fiercely on a third element: ‘the greedy’.
"We have a problem: we know capitalism works, but we also know most people think it doesn't. Being pro-capitalism isn't fashionable but it is right. How do we sort this out? This thoughtful, witty and timely book offers some excellent answers." - Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek and Financial Times columnist "Martin Vander Weyer has written a magisterial analysis of how modern capitalism has lost its soul. With public support for free-market capitalism evaporating, we need to restore the sense of purpose and obligation that the greatest companies once possessed but which has been lost in a jumble of management-speak, mission statements and cost controls. The Good, the Bad and the Greedy is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why a system that has delivered unprecedented prosperity has also become so unpopular - and who wants to start figuring out what we might do about it." - Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph columnist "Martin Vander Weyer makes a clear case that capitalism is not dead - but is often broken by broken people." - Lord Browne of Madingley, former chief executive of BP "This book is a highly engaging combination of economic history, finance and philosophy. It tries to answer the really important questions about business and markets. Whom do companies serve? Can they be more ethical and remain successful? Is reform needed? It covers the critical subjects of tax, executive pay and philanthropy in a balanced and brilliantly readable way. It should be recommended reading for investors, managers, entrepreneurs and politicians - or indeed anyone interested in debating the strengths and weaknesses of the free-enterprise system." - Luke Johnson, entrepreneur and former chairman of Channel 4 and the Royal Society of Art "Timely, insightful and beautifully written." - Rupert Younger, director, Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation "The Good, the Bad and the Greedy explains clearly, with humour and in an easily readable form, how financial markets work, how they affect us all and how from time to time a few greedy undesirables find ways of misleading the public and swindling them. Regulations to prevent fraud exist, but regulators are always slow to catch up. Many firms with decent directors are often too big for top management to supervise effectively what is happening at street level. The result is that public trust in the system gets damaged. Martin Vander Weyer proposes changes to repair that damage and, in particular, to re-establish the City of London's reputation. Even if you feel you have no stake in capitalism, you still ought to know its pros and cons. This is a good way to find out." - Sir Martin Jacomb, former chairman of Prudential and Canary Wharf Group and former deputy chairman of Barclays "Capitalism works best when it enables, through ownership, citizens to have a stake in the nation. It fails when it adulates the making of money without a social or moral purpose. Martin Vander Weyer's laser mind shows the way out of our present turbulence." - Lord Vinson, industrial entrepreneur and founder-director of the Centre for Policy Studies "A handbook for a new start: a thoughtful analysis of what has gone wrong in the financial world, and the history of how that has come about." - Jonathan Ruffer, investment manager and philanthropist
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