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Vince Cable speech: Capitalism in Crisis

June 7, 2018 1:00 PM
By Liberal Democrats
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable

He explores some of the serious problems facing capitalism today, and how these issues have provoked reactions from the extremes of the political spectrum. Common sense reform is necessary to curb the worst excesses of capitalism.

"Scarcely a day goes by without a scandal erupting around greedy or bullying bosses, pilfered pension funds, business tax dodging, chaotic private train operators, rewards for failure, bankers' bonuses, price gouging or exploitation of gig workers, zero hours contract employees or modern slaves.

The public appears to want more nationalisation, more regulation and higher taxes on business.

Populist politicians on the left, like Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders in the USA, get a respectful hearing at business conferences. Leading business spokespeople and gurus preach contrition, restraint and self-flagellation.

There is a palpable sense of capitalism being in crisis or, at least, facing a crisis of confidence.

Although it does not explain everything, the financial crisis of a decade ago played an important part in puncturing the confidence generated by the collapse of Communism two decades earlier confidence that the capitalist model, the liberalisation of markets and the 'animal spirits' of entrepreneurs, could be relied upon to generate an ongoing, inexorable rise in living standards.

This view was epitomised by Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" thesis now the subject of universal mockery but taken very seriously at the time that liberal democracy and the market economy had conclusively and for all time settled the ideological debate.

Instead, financial markets proved to be highly unstable and prone to excess."

Download the full speech here.