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13/06/2012

Duration:
43 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 13 June 2012

The 100 billion Euro bail out of the Spanish banks has been hailed as triumph and the financial markets certainly reacted positively, at least that is, until they started to think about which was the next country to head towards meltdown. The reality is that Europe is drowning in a sea of debt, with politicians addicted to spending and social welfare plans way beyond their national means, bankers addicted to try to make a fast buck off the back of dodgy property developments and the greed of speculators. And you and I, the consumer, addicted to our credit cards despite the recession. Average household debt in the UK is now around £56,000 and that's expected to rise to more than £77,000 by 2015. When it comes to money, has our debt-fuelled personal and national spending spree, secured against the fake prosperity of soaring house prices, corrupted our morality? For the few thrifty puritans still out there, it's retribution time - a small comfort for the fact their financial and moral prudence has resulted in their savings being wiped out by a combination of high inflation and pitifully low interest rates. But can and should we go back to the days when to be in debt was seen as shameful and to be a bankrupt was a stigma that could result in being ostracized from all sorts of sectors of society. Of course there are those who blame it all on the bankers who've been allowed to get any with their greed by incompetent regulators. But as one senior Conservative politician put it recently - the banks had to lend to someone and there were two consenting adults in the transaction. So have we and our politicians and collectively indulged in a spend it now orgy of consumption, mortgaging away the future of the next generation that now languishes in unemployment? Or is money morally neutral - a token of exchange which should carry no burden of judgement? And if we can talk about forgiving debt to the poorest countries in the developing world, is it time we considered that possibility for the poorest in our own country.

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Clifford Longley, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Matthew Taylor.

Witnesses:

Nick Dearden - Jubilee Debt Campaign
Simon Rose - Save Our Savers
John Lamiday - Consumer Finance Association
Jamie Whyte - Philosopher and Journalist.

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