Main content

Remedies for capitalism's malaise

What does the Libor scandal tell us about capitalism? We have cures for its malaise and meet the billionaire who's made a fortune from failure.

Let's be honest, the London Interbank Offered Rate doesn't sound very promising as the basis for a devilish plot involving deceit and skullduggery, not least because the world financial crisis has set such high standards for business scandals.

But the Libor scandal really does make the grade: a cartel of the most powerful banks on the planet have been colluding together to rig a key interest rate linked to - by some estimates - as much $800 trillion in securities and loans.

No surprise then that lots of people are asking if this and other scandals suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way capitalism is working.

That's certainly what Luigi Zingales, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth Business School thinks.

He's been researching what he regards as a developing malaise within American capitalism and the Libor scandal plays straight to his central theme.

When Justin Rowlatt met Professor Zingales he asked him what he believes is going wrong in the world's leading capitalist nation.

Richard B Freeman, who directs the National Bureau of Economic Research, is also anxious about capitalism's future.

Like Professor Zingales he thinks he may know where the solution lies. It's an idea that he believes could unite left and right and what's more could be very cheap.

Nevertheless Mr Freeman told Justin Rowlatt that fixing capitalism is going to be a tough challenge.

Plus, a man with no doubts about the future of capitalism; a man who believes capitalism is in rude health. A man, in fact, who sees himself as a key component of its efficient functioning.

Wilbur Ross is a billionaire, known as the king of the "vulture investors" - he specialises in buying up companies that are bankrupt or on the verge of bankrupcy.

Mr Ross is 74 years old but shows no signs of planing to step down as chairman of the private equity firm he founded over a decade ago, WL Ross & Co.

Justin Rowlatt asks him if picking over the bones of failed companies is really a dignified way to make a living.

Available now

18 minutes


How the 2008 crash shaped our world

How the 2008 crash shaped our world

Stories from people involved in the crash and how its effects are still felt today

Business Daily Podcast

Business Daily Podcast

Download every programme.