The Just Banking conference, held in April 2012 at the University of Edinburgh, brought together over 400 academics, campaigners, policy-makers and citizens to address these urgent questions:

  • How can we handle banking crises without burdening the taxpayer, or better still, avoid them altogether?
    The Bank of England estimates that the total cost of bailing out the UK financial system was £1.3 trillion, more than ten times the entire NHS budget.
  • How can we increase the bank finance available for the real economy, and decrease the amount pumped into asset price bubbles?
    At present only around 8% of lending by banks goes to productive investment in the sectors that contribute to GDP. The rest goes into property (pushing up house prices) and speculation, including speculation on basic commodities (pushing up food prices for the world’s poorest).
  • How can we make high street banks invest in local economies and long-term value?
    When banks do get around to financing the productive sector, they too often support huge companies with dubious environmental and human rights records, rather than the small businesses that create two thirds of our jobs. Many commentators now argue that banks are failing to support sustainable local economies because they have consolidated beyond the point that allows them to be responsive to local needs.

The conference opened with an evening lecture from Adam Posen, member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, and a lively panel discussion with Ann Pettifor, Richard Werner and Tony Greenham. This was followed by a full day of presentations and seminars with thought-leaders from the UK and beyond.

Videos of all the presentations are available below, and you can find copy of the full conference agenda here.

Conference summary

This interactive presentation provides an overview of the questions addressed at the Just Banking Conference. You might find it easier to view here on the PREZI website.

See also this article in the Scottish Left Review for a summary of the topics covered.

The talks and discussions in full

Please find the videos and ppt slides from the Just Banking plenary and breakout sessions below.

Adam Posen

Member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee

Keynote speech at the Just Banking opening plenary, Friday 19th April

Panel Discussion 1

With Adam Posen, Prof Richard Werner, Ann Pettifor, and Tony Greenham

Chaired by Merryn Somerset Webb

Josh Ryan Collins

Senior Researcher at the New Economics Foundation and co-author of “Where does money come from?”

An overview of the banking system, and its influence on growth and financial instability

Download Power Point Slides

Ben Dyson

Founder of Positive Money

What does the current banking system mean for debt, inequality, jobs, businesses, taxes and housing?

Download Power Point Slides

Mary Mellor

Emeritus Professor at Northumbria University and author of The Future of Money: from financial crisis to pubic resource

What does the current banking system mean for sustainability?

Download Power Point Slides

Dr Katherine Trebeck

Research and Policy Advisor, Oxfam

What does the current banking system mean for the poorest, both in the UK and abroad: a look at financial exclusion and commodity price speculation.

Huw Davies

Head of Personal Banking at Triodos

How we can mobilise savers, overcome lethargy, and put funds to constructive use in an age of budget reductions.

Download Power Point Slides

Prof Richard Werner

Director of the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development, University of Southampton, author of “New Paradigm in Macroeconomics”

Download Power Point Slides

Ann Pettifor

Director of Policy Research in Macro Economics, activist and author of “The Coming First World Debt Crisis”

Making finance the servant not the master of the people

Download the powerpoint slides or Ann’s full notes and slides

Steve Keen

Author of “Debunking Economics” and Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney

Why banks cause crises, and how to stop them

Power Point Slides

Q and A Session chaired by Ian Fraser

Panel Discussion 2

Where Next?

Jim Mather – Former SNP Minister
Patrick Harvie – Co-convener of the Scottish Green Party
Stephen Boyd – Assistant Secretary to the STUC
Kathy Galloway – Head of Christian Aid Scotland & Member of the Church of Scotland’s Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity
Chris Hewett – Fellow of The Finance Innovation Lab and Associate at Green Alliance
Shelagh Young (Chair)

Breakout session: Challenging the power of the bank lobby

In 2010, city money made up over 50% of all Conservative Party donations. Current transparency measures do not enable public scrutiny of lobbying. Finance Watch estimates that the amount spent on financial lobbying in Brussels is over €300m. What can we do to tackle the power of the banking lobby?

Dr William Dinan
Director and Co-Founder of Spin Watch

Greg Ford
Head of Communications, Finance Watch

Willie Sullivan
Scottish Director of the Electoral Reform Society and Vice Chair of Compass

Sarah Cowan
Campaigns and Activism Coordinator at Oxfam Scotland

Discussion chair: Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser at Unison

Breakout session: Relocalising and diversifying our high street banks

A sustainable, inclusive and vibrant local economy needs a financial service sector that is responsive to local needs that can support small businesses and social enterprises, and that can provide basic banking facilities to all, regardless of income, literacy and ethnic background. But have our banks become too consolidated to play that role?

Britain has five banks that account for 90% of personal banking. Compare this to Germany, which has hundreds of local savings banks and credit unions accounting for 70% of banking. The UK has just 170 bank branches per million inhabitants, compared to 480 in Germany, and 1010 in Spain.

Is there a case for forcibly breaking up the banks? For creating a new network of Post Banks? For a ‘universal service obligation’ which would mandate the affordable provision of basic accounts to all individuals?

Sargon Nissan
Fellow at Jubilee Debt Campaign

Rod Ashley
Chief Executive, Scotwest Credit Union

Danielle Paffard
Co-founder, Move Your Money

Discussion chair:
Tony Greenham, Head of Finance and Business at NEF

Breakout session: Finance as a force for good

How can governments intervene in the banking sector to channel finance away from environmentally destructive industries and destabilizing speculative activity, and towards projects with real environmental and social value?

How can we stop speculators pushing up food prices? How can we change the system of incentives that encourage destabilizing and risky behaviour?

Is banking sector intervention enough? What about the pensions funds & the insurance companies that act as if the long-term doesn’t matter? Is it realistic to expect similar government intervention in these high-impact sectors or are there other alternative/complementary answers to dysfunctional markets?

Victoria Chick
Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University College London

Raj Thamotheram
President at Network for Sustainable Financial Markets

Prof Richard Werner
Director of the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development, University of Southampton

Discussion chair:
Hilary Wainwright, Co-editor of Red Pepper

Breakout session: Fresh thinking on finance, money and debt

This is the session for really thinking outside of the box, and discussing alternative models for money-creation and investment, that would fundamentally transform the role of banks in the economy.

Through its privileged role in creating and allocating 97% of the money in circulation, the banking sector wields enormous power over both the health and direction of our economy. Should banks retain the power to create and allocate debt-money? Or should we move the power to create money into the hands of a transparent and accountable body? What might be the role for complementary currencies?

Are interest-bearing bank loans a necessary or desirable model for financing projects with social and environmental value? What about shared equity-based investment models, and peer-to-peer finance?

Ben Dyson
Founder of Positive Money

Prof Molly Scott Cato
Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at Roehampton University

Saftar Sarwar
Islamic Finance Council UK

Chris Cook
Senior Research Fellow, University College London

Discussion chair:
Michael Northcott, Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh

About the organisers

The conference was organised by Friends of the Earth Scotland and the University of Edinburgh Economics Society, in partnership with UNISON, Christian Aid, the New Economics Foundation, the Scottish Trade Union Congress, the World Development Movement and Compass. It was generously supported by Triodos Bank, the Carnegie Trust, the University of Edinburgh Business School & Economics School, and EUSAQ finance were our official media partners.

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