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Men, Money and Morality: How can trust in banking be restored?

by Niall Ferguson

Posted: 07 Jul 2010

Was the global financial crisis of 2007-10 moral in its origin - a crisis of ethical values as much as market valuations?

Drawing on his new biography of Siegmund Warburg, one of the key architects of London's revival as a financial centre after 1945, historian Niall Ferguson asks what the current generation of bankers needs to learn from its predecessors.

This event, which took place in St Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday 6th July, 2010, filled the cathedral with an attentive audience and now we are happy to present you with the text of the lecture in PDF format below.

The final portion of the event was a Questions & Answers segment, which has also been transcribed and can be downloaded here.

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About this author

Niall Ferguson is a noted author and Professor of History at Harvard University.

Peter - Posted: 07 Jul 2010

During the talk, Niall gave quotes from Fabrice Tourre of Goldman Sachs about selling to widows and orphans. Without prejudice to what 'Fab' was doing in his work, I don't think he was really talking about mis-selling to widows and orphans. If I recall correctly, he was sitting in a airport lounge, musing about his work. The things he said were really him contrasting his world of CDOs of ABS and CDO squared with the staid world of what should be banking, of selling reliable products to widows and orphans. He brought CDOs and widows into the same sentence to show the contrast.

Peter - Posted: 13 Jul 2010

"For example, on June 13, 2007, Mr. Tourre writes to Marine Serres that he has arrived in Belgium:

Just made it to the country of your favorite clients!!! And I just sold some abacus bonds to widows and orphans that I met at the airport, these Belgians certainly love synthetic abs CDO squared!!! "

CDOs would never be sold at an airport. The minimum size would be at leat $50million. I think he is commenting on how absurd the whole thing is, using a joke to make the point.


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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of St Paul's Institute or St Paul's Cathedral.