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Mutualising the Market: Could the 'Big Society' transform business and finance?

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So far the ‘Big Society’ has sought to re-define the balance between the central state, on the one hand, and communities and individual citizens, on the other hand. But so far the coalition has not outlined similarly ambitious plans to re-organise the institutions and practices of the market, especially in the financial services industry. Despite the worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression of 1929-32, we are left with a system that essentially privatises profit, nationalises loss and socialises risk.

This paper argues for the mutualisation of the market. It attempts to make the case for risk- and profit-sharing arrangements and ways of linking investment to charity. In the current context, that requires policies aimed at restructuring private, corporate and sovereign debt, coupled with restructuring the banking sector and possibly levying a small tax on certain financial transactions. By mutualising the market, it is possible to change the relation finance and the real economy and between labour and capital.

This talk is part of the Market Square – The Cambridge Business & Society Interdisciplinary Research Group series.

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