The Financial Crisis Revisited

Fiesole, Italy | May 6-8, 2010

The latest financial crisis is often described as a severe credit crunch and a breakdown of trust among banks in the world financial system. While true, this analysis is incomplete.

The crisis should not be considered on merely technical terms. It cannot be attributed solely to mistakes made by the professional management of any industry, nor to a lack of technical knowledge on the part of the main actors, nor to bank mismanagement. The current crisis is unlike others in recent history, in that it is global rather than local, and structural rather than superficial. This crisis has a much broader base and its origins can be traced not only to institutions and their governance, but also to society and its prevailing values and ideologies, and finally to individuals values and behavior. Therefore, it is not enough to dissect the technical mistakes that lead to the credit crunch and to the lack of trust. In order to begin to effectively evaluate and understand the impact of the financial and economic crisis, some deeper issues must be addressed and understood.

The resulting publication, Natural Law, Economics and the Common Good, from Imprint Academic's St. Andrews Studies in Philosophy and Public Affairs, is now available.

Principal Inquiries

  • How have companies in the financial sector, firms and organizations in the auditing and rating business, and government supervisory agencies broken the rules of their respective professions?
  • Have modern ideologies such as relativism and individualism contributed to the misconduct of decision makers?  How?
  • Have individuals neglected the ethical consequences of their decisions?  What has driven them to do so? Were factors of personal greed and ambition involved?

Moderator & Academic Leaders


Luis Tellez -The Witherspoon Institute

Academic Leaders

Harold James - Princeton University
Samuel Gregg - The Acton Institute


Amity Shlaes - Council on Foreign Relations
The Limits of Cardiology: Forgotten Factors in the Great Depression and the Current Period

Geoffrey Wood - City University London (Cass Business School)
Was Tolstoy Right?

Samuel Gregg - Acton Institute
Money and its Future in the Global Economy

Hans-Helmut Kotz - Deutsche Bundesbank
Financial Ordnungspolitik – Conceiving Rules Internationally

Harold James - Princeton University
The Financial Crisis and the Disciplinary Challenge of Natural Law

Philip Booth - Institute of Economic Affairs and Cass Business School
The Crash of 2008: A Discussion of the Causes and the Relationship with Ethical Issues

Edward Skidelsky - University of Exeter
From Ends To Consequences: Thoughts on Economics and Moral Philosophy

Amar Bhide - Harvard University
A Call for Judgment: Sensible Finance for a Dynamic World

Gerhard Schwarz - Neue Zürcher Zeitung
On the Exceptional Character of Emergency Fiscal Assistance: Some Reflections on Economic Order

Ludger Schuknecht -  European Central Bank
Booms, Busts and Fiscal Policy: Public Finances in the Future

Robert Skidelsky - Professor of Political Economy, Emeritus, University of Warwick
The Great Recession: Two Stories of Causes and Cures


Sean Fieler - Equinox Partners (Managing Partner)
Rainer Hank -  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Head of Economic Section)
Colin Moran - Abdiel Partners (Principal)
Craig Smith -  Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, University of St. Andrews (Director, Politics and Economic Project)
Hans Tietmeyer - Deustche Bundesbank (former head)