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Financial Elites and European BankingHistorical Perspectives$
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Youssef Cassis and Giuseppe Telesca

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198782797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198782797.001.0001

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Financial Crises and the Public Discourse on Financial Elites

Financial Crises and the Public Discourse on Financial Elites

A Comparison between the Great Depression and the Great Recession

Chapter:
(p.17) 1 Financial Crises and the Public Discourse on Financial Elites
Source:
Financial Elites and European Banking
Author(s):

Youssef Cassis

Giuseppe Telesca

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198782797.003.0002

Why were elite bankers and financiers demoted from ‘masters’ to ‘servants’ of society after the Great Depression, a crisis to which they contributed only marginally? Why do they seem to have got away with the recent crisis, in spite of their palpable responsibilities in triggering the Great Recession? This chapter provides an analysis of the differences between the bankers of the Great Depression and their colleagues of the late twentieth/early twenty-first century—regarding their position within, and attitude towards the firm, work culture, mental models, and codes of conduct—complemented with a scrutiny of the public discourse on bankers and financiers before and after the two crises. The authors argue that the (relative) mildness of the Great Recession, compared to the Great Depression, has contributed to preserve elite bankers’ and financiers’ status, income, wealth, and influence. Yet, the long-term consequences of their loss of reputational capital are difficult to assess.

Keywords:   blame games, financial regime change, Great Depression, Great Recession, reputational capital

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