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A greedy giant out of control

We used to think that finance performed a useful role, shunting capital to the most profitable outlets. Its growth was thus a function of success. But after the crunch, a new generation of critics, such as Paul Woolley, are challenging this thesis

By Jonathan Ford   November 2008

The enormous growth of the financial sector is one of the wonders of our age. In the 1960s the business of banking, broking and insuring accounted for just 10 per cent of total corporate profits in most developed economies. By 2005, this proportion had swelled to nearly 35 per cent in the US and roughly the same in Britain—the two countries that host the world’s largest financial centres. Last year a staggering one in five Britons earned their living in finance.

Of course, the profitability of the financial sector is declining on account of the credit crisis. But the politicians…

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