'In Pursuit of Wealth': A Talk by Dr Yaron Brook

This week, Dr Yaron Brook - a columnist for Forbes and chairman of the board at the Ayn Rand Institute - visited College and gave a fascinating, and at times controversial, talk entitled 'In Pursuit of Wealth'.

He challenged the long-held perception that the finance industry, and in particular bankers and venture capitalists, are often responsible for many of society's economic woes. Events like the financial crisis of 2008, often felt by many to be the result of excessive risk-taking and profiteering by institutions in the financial sector, were in fact a direct result of too much public sector intervention, rather than too little.

He argued that the target of increased home ownership in the US in the late 1990s and early 2000s created misguided incentives within the financial sector which would not have existed had the market been left to its own devices. Consequently, he argued that for such events to be avoided in the future there should be less regulation and government intervention, not more; this came as a point of view which was new to many in the audience.

Dr Brook went further in his talk by saying that the world would not be the place it is today without the finance sector. Its unique ability to create an efficient market for saving and lending is ultimately what has led to many of the inventions that have transformed society through the ages. He cited numerous innovations, such as the automobile, the light bulb, and indeed the iPhone, and highlighted that if it were not for financiers being willing and able to take a risk and lend to entrepreneurs, we would not have many of the modern comforts we now take for granted. It is for this reason that Dr Brook believes criticisms of the financial sector are misplaced and that if it were to be left alone by government and free from regulation it would function at its most efficient and continue to help fund the innovations of the future.

It is fair to say that whether or not you share Dr Brook’s views, one could not at least be impressed by the persuasive manner in which he presented and confidently defended his minority view, and he certainly did leave the audience with much food for thought.

Mr P Ratinckx, Head of Economics