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Casino Capitalism and the American Culture

I'm in the middle of writing a long speech for Gresham College which I shall present on Wednesday evening

The title of the speech is: "Are Bankers Good or Bad for Society?" which we agreed way back in February.

However, in light of Lord Turner's comments last month, this title is more prescient than ever.

One of the key themes is related to the moral compass of bankers, which is a key debating point in most senior banker's speeches over the past month.

Another is what is the next generation of banking going to look like?

I won't give you my answer yet – come along on Wednesday night if you're keen to hear it – but I will share one view.

The next generation of banking won't be American.

American culture is the culture that created casino capitalism, as we call it now.

The gambling approach to risks and investments, and the get rich quick bonus culture.

If you don't believe this, then an article that appeared over the weekend gave me more insight into this relationship between the American culture and gambling than any other.

The article is written by James McManus, a professor of writing and literature at the School of
the Art Institute of Chicago, and author of a new book: Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker.

Here's a few choice pieces from the article:

"Poker has gone hand in hand with pivotal aspects of our national experience for a couple of centuries now … humanities professors should recognize that the ways we've done battle and business, made art and literature have echoed, and been echoed by, poker's definitive tactics, as well as its rich lore and history.

"American DNA is a notoriously complex recipe for creating a body politic, but two strands in particular have always stood out in high contrast: the risk-averse Puritan work ethic and the entrepreneur's urge to seize the main chance …

"The national card game still combines Puritan values—self-control, diligence, the slow accumulation of savings—with what might be called the open-market cowboy's desire to get very rich very quickly."

I suggest you read the rest of Jim's article if interested in American culture as it seems more and more likely that the American approach to capital, which led to the casino culture of capitalism, is about to be laid to rest.

Meanwhile, if in London on Wednesday, come along to the Gresham lecture.


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About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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