Books & Films

Book review: Of Markets and Men – James Featherby (2012)



Of Markets and Men aims to show readers how financial markets and businesses can be altered to reflect ethical and sustainable values.

The author, who has worked in the City for over 30 years, argues that the 2008 financial crisis has given us a once in a lifetime opportunity to relay the foundations of the financial world in a way that reflects philosophy and values. The book sets out how these changes can be made and explains four structural changes that can make us consider the ethical value in finance more.

It assesses where the financial system went wrong and the principles that are needed to ensure that a crisis does not happen again. The author’s credentials are obvious in the book as he critiques the workings of the financial markets and offers solutions to create a more responsible alternative.

Although dealing with a complex subject, Of Markets and Men is broken down into manageable chunks and uses sub-headings to break down long pieces of text and help the reader gain a better understanding. The book also uses illustrations and bullet points to keep the reader interested as well as adding to the text.

Featherby, who is also chair of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, argues that businesses and financial bodies can base their values on public duty whilst still operating competitively. The first step, he notes, is for businesses to take responsibly for their social and environmental impact.

The other proposals involve taking control of debt, discouraging financial transactions that are based on speculation and finally put pressure on those that make decisions involving other people’s money to make sure it is put to good use.

Of Markets and Men offers an insight into City workings and the proposals are thoughtful, logical and well explained. A PDF copy of the book can be downloaded here.



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