It is with great pleasure that we release this, our Quarter 2 journal for 2019. We are living in a fascinating time in history, in which we are bearing witness to a resurgence of right-wing politics, trade wars and nationalism. We believe that one of the factors that has influenced this phenomenon is a strong reactionary response to the 2007/2008 financial crisis. Many have questioned how it is that the financial industry could have found itself in such a dire situation. The populist response to the crisis has been to rein in the freedom of the banks, however, the truth is that this politically-charged reaction is largely misaligned with the complexities of our current socio-economic environment. It is only through a nuanced understanding of the events that led us here that we can begin to respond to the forces shaping our world at present.
We believe that the pastiche of stories contained in this journal constitute something of a short history of banking over the past 120 years that will provide some important insights on this topic. We cover developments such as the creation of double-entry accounting and the origins of financial mathematics, together with seminal events in financial history, including the Panic of 1907 and the creation of the US Federal Reserve, the establishment of the Bank for International Settlements, the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, and the OPEC Oil Crisis of 1973. These events are positioned alongside a reflection on the evolution of banking regulation through the creation and failure of legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act and the Bretton-Woods Agreement. We also consider the stories of financial disaster – brought about by the actions of individuals, organisations and entire financial systems – that are scattered throughout the past century, from the failure of institutions such as Barings Bank and Long Term Capital Management, to the story of Dick Fuld and Lehman Brothers.
We hope that you enjoy this issue of the Monocle Quarterly Journal, which is more focused on the topic of banking than any of our previous issues have been. Given the place in which we find ourselves socially, politically and economically at present, we felt that it was high time to cover the fascinating history of this industry.
Chief Executive Officer