Failure Is Not An Option! Credit Crunch or Civilisation’s Collapse? (11 November 2008)

Every day new crises have been appearing with many US and European household names collapsing or being propped up by governments or takeover – Bear Stearns, Northern Rock, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, HBOS, Fortis (ABN Amro), Dexia etc. The fears of a 1929-style global depression grow daily, but the situation is murky. In our tradition of peering ahead better through discussion, the Real Time Club hosts a topical debate that intends to explore:

  • What were the true origins of the problem – greed, poor regulation, too much regulation, conspiracy, politicians, customers, a ‘perfect storm’ or a cock-up?
  • Is anyone to blame? Who is going to say “sorry”?
  • What ‘black swans’ can we look to in future?
  • Are there any remedies to prevent similar credit crunches recurring?
  • What are the implications for information & communications technology – blamed for the problems (over-sophisticated computer modelling), or responsible for the solutions (sophisticated regulatory surveillance and reworked market models), or irrelevant?

You can be sure that the problems will be different and developing by the time of the dinner!

Paul Wilmott described by the FT as a “cult derivatives lecturer”, has been forcefully highlighting the issues in pricing derivatives for some years. He is course director of the Certificate in Quantitative Finance, and runs Wilmott.com, the largest website on quantitative finance.

Bob Giffords is an independent analyst and consultant for the European banking sector who writes regularly for several leading financial journals, including Swift Dialogue, The Trade, Dealing With Technology, Waters and Financial World.

Dr Andrew Hilton is well-known to Real Time Club members for his sagacity and trenchant views. Andrew heads the leading financial services think-tank, the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation.

Jan-Peter Onstwedder is the former head of risk at RBS, then BP, and now Head of Portfolio & Risk at 3i. Jan-Peter directed the London Accord during 2007.

David Benson is COO of Man Global Strategies. He was formerly COO and Chief Risk Officer at Nomura, the leading Japanese bank.

Michael Mainelli who will chair proceedings, is a financier and scientist who leads Z/Yen Group in the City as well as being Professor of Commerce at Gresham College.