It’s been ten years since we saw suddenly unemployed Lehman Brothers bankers carrying their possessions out of their offices in boxes; since whole neighbourhoods in suburban America turned into empty ghost towns; since the British and American governments pumped trillions into the banking system, saving some institutions and abandoning others. The crash of 2008 and 2009 shook the very foundations of modern capitalism.
So where are we today? Although we may have been spared a second Great Depression, post-crisis productivity has flatlined and the last decade has seen Britain’s worst pay squeeze since the nineteenth century. And according to some, the seeds of today’s political upheavals, from Brexit to Trump to the Corbyn surge, were sown during the 2008 crash, which irreparably damaged public trust in the establishment and its institutions.
To look back at this critical moment for the global economy and examine its repercussions today, Intelligence Squared brought together a panel of the country’s top economic experts: Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England during the crash and its aftermath; acclaimed UCL Economics Professor Mariana Mazzucato, who recently advised Jeremy Corbyn on industrial strategy; and Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation, a think tank focusing on improving the living standards of those on low incomes. Chairing the discussion was the BBC’s economics editor Kamal Ahmed.
Has enough been done to regulate the banks and protect our economy from future shocks? Is it only a matter of time before we face a new, even worse crash? And did we let the crisis go to waste by failing to rethink the system and rebalance the economy away from financial services?