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Monday, 7th November 2011

UK: Value and Values: Perceptions of Ethics in the City Today

Source: St. Paul's Institute (UK)

From the Introduction:

The 27th October 1986 was the day that the City of London changed forever. For good or ill, there would never be any going back.The Big Bang transformed the financial City from an old boys’ club, dominated by the values of public school honour – “my word is my bond” – into the boiler room of international capitalism.Without the deregulation that occurred in October 1986, the City of London could well have become a quaint financial backwater. Indeed, by the mid 80’s, it had already been overtaken by NewYork as the world’s financial centre. But as restrictions were loosened and fixed commission charges dropped, global capital found in the City of London its most sympathetic conduit. From now on, most financial products would be traded over the telephone and via computers. No longer would stockbrokers and stockjobbers wave frantically at each other across a crowded dealing floor. Technology made a different sort of trading possible, one less reliant upon human interaction. Computers were faster and cleverer than people – at least, that was the idea. And they didn’t sleep. Business expanded exponentially.The UK increasingly relied upon the tax revenues provided by this international success story. According to our survey presented here, only 31% of those in the financial services industry could correctly identify 1986 as the year all these changes took place.

Interestingly, though, over half of those asked thought the Big Bang had a detrimental effect upon the ethical behaviour of the City; and it is remarkable that 79% of city professionals did not know the motto of the London Stock Exchange – “my word is my bond”. One explanation for both of these findings may have to do with the way in which Big Bang took a great deal of direct human contact out of the act of trading itself. 

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »



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