The discussion continues! Join us for The Transforming Finance conference, May 10th 2013.


You can download the full delegate programme here.

THURSDAY 19th April
18:00 ����� 19:45
University of Edinburgh’s George Square Lecture Theatre

  • How can we handle banking crises without burdening the taxpayer, or better still, avoid them altogether?
  • How can we get banks investing in productive activity that creates social and ecological value?
  • How can we make banks responsive to local needs, including small businesses and financially excluded groups?

Welcome: Vice Principle Charlie Jeffery, Head of School of Social and Political Science
Keynote: Adam Posen, Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee

Panel discussion
Chaired by Merryn Somerset Webb, editor in Chief of Money Week, with:

  • Ann Pettifor, Policy Research in Macro Economics, activist and author of “The Coming First World Debt Crisis”
  • Tony Greenham, head of Finance and Business at the new economics foundation
  • Prof Richard Werner, Director of the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development, University of Southampton

FRIDAY 20th April
09:30 – 17:30
Appleton Tower, 11 Crichton Street, Newington, Edinburgh EH8 9LE

Why Banking Matters
09:30 Beth Stratford, Sustainable Economics Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland
Welcome and Introduction
09:35 Josh Ryan Collins, Senior Researcher at the New Economics Foundation and co-author of ���Where does money come from?”
An overview of the banking system, and its influence on growth and financial instability
10:00 Ben Dyson, Founder of Positive Money
What does the current banking system mean for debt, inequality, jobs, businesses, taxes and housing?
10:25 Mary Mellor, Emeritus Professor at Northumbria University and author of ���������������The Future of Money: from financial crisis to pubic resource”
What does the current banking system mean for sustainability?
10:50 Dr Katherine Trebeck, Research and Policy Advisor, Oxfam
What does the current banking system mean for the poorest, both in the UK and abroad: a look at financial exclusion and commodity price speculation.
11:05 TEA / COFFEE
How Banking Could be better
11:25 Huw Davies, Head of Personal Banking at Triodos
A view from ethical bank Triodos on the power that money has and the role it can play in society and economy, depending on the choices that are made by individuals and institutions. How we can mobilise savers, overcome lethargy, and put funds to constructive use in an age of budget reductions.
11:35 Prof Richard Werner, Director of the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development, University of Southampton, author of “New Paradigm in Macroeconomics” and the 1995 proposal for ‘quantitative easing’ in Japan.

The case for localised banking
It is possible to structure the banking sector such that it consists of hundreds of autonomous, locally-headquartered banks that are linked into the local community and contributing mostly to the local economy. A local banking system like this could end the boom-bust cycles, boost finance for small businesses and regenerate local economies.

12:00 Ann Pettifor, Policy Research in Macro Economics, activist and author of “The Coming First world Debt Crisis”

Making finance the servant not the master of the people
As Weber argued, money is a weapon in the struggle for economic existence. Today private bankers effectively exercise despotic power over society. Thanks to the genius of JM Keynes we have the economic tools, knowledge and experience to restore bankers to their role as servants. If we apply these policies, it is entirely plausible that we can afford to address the challenge of climate change, unemployment and global poverty.

12:25 Prof Steve Keen, author of “Debunking Economics��� and Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney

Why banks cause crises, and how to stop them
Banks are behind every major crisis in capitalism. The reason is that the only way to grow bank income indefinitely is to entice the public into a Ponzi Scheme. Two enticements exist in the fabric of capitalism: shares and property. We need to redefine how shares and property operate and can be financed if we are to restrict finance to what it is actually good for.

12:50 Q and A chaired by Journalist and broadcaster Ian Fraser
13:25 Beth Stratford, Sustainable Economics Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland
Explain format for afternoon
13:30 LUNCH
14:30 1) Relocalising and revitalizing our high street banks

A sustainable, inclusive and vibrant local economy needs a financial service sector that is responsive to local needs – that can support small businesses and social enterprises, and that can provide basic banking facilities to all, regardless of income, literacy and ethnic background. But have our banks become too consolidated to play that role?

Britain has five banks that account for 90% of personal banking. Compare this to Germany, which has hundreds of local savings banks and credit unions accounting for 70% of banking. The UK has just 170 bank branches per million inhabitants, compared to 480 in Germany, and 1010 in Spain.

Is there a case for forcibly breaking up the banks? For creating a new network of Post Banks? For a ‘universal service obligation’ which would mandate the affordable provision of basic accounts to all individuals?

2) Finance as a force for good

How can governments intervene in the banking sector to channel finance away from environmentally destructive industries and destabilizing speculative activity, and towards projects with real environmental and social value?

How can we stop speculators pushing up food prices? How can we change the system of incentives that encourage destabilizing and risky behaviour?

Is banking sector intervention enough? What about the pensions funds & the insurance companies that act as if the long-term doesn’t matter? Is it realistic to expect similar government intervention in these high-impact sectors or are there other alternative/complementary answers to dysfunctional markets?

3) Challenging the power of the bank lobby

In 2010, city money made up over 50% of all Conservative Party donations. Current transparency measures do not enable public scrutiny of lobbying. Finance Watch estimates that the amount spent on financial lobbying in Brussels is over €300m. What can we do to tackle the power of the banking lobby?

4) Fresh thinking on finance, money and debt

This is the session for really thinking outside of the box, and discussing alternative models for money-creation and investment, that would fundamentally transform the role of banks in the economy.

Through its privileged role in creating and allocating 97% of the money in circulation, the banking sector wields enormous power over both the health and direction of our economy. Should banks retain the power to create and allocate debt-money? Or should we move the power to create money into the hands of a transparent and accountable body? What might be the role for complementary currencies?

Are interest-bearing bank loans a necessary or desirable model for financing projects with social and environmental value? What about shared equity-based investment models, and peer-to-peer finance?


Sargon Nissan
Fellow at Jubilee Debt Campaign

Rod Ashley
Chief Executive, Scotwest Credit Union

Danielle Paffard,
Co-founder, Move Your Money

Discussion chair:
Tony Greenham, Head of Finance and Business at nef


Hannah Griffiths
Head of Campaigns and Policy, World Development Movement

Victoria Chick
Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University College London

Raj Thamotheram
President at Network for Sustainable Financial Markets

Prof Richard Werner
Director of the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development, University of Southampton

Discussion chair:
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser at Unison


Dr William Dinan
Director and Co-Founder of Spin Watch

Greg Ford
Head of Communications, Finance Watch

Willie Sullivan
Scottish Director of the Electoral Reform Society and Vice Chair of Compass

Sarah Cowan
Campaigns and Activism Coordinator at Oxfam Scotland

Discussion chair:
Hilary Wainwright, Co-editor of Red Pepper


Ben Dyson
Founder of Positive Money

Prof Molly Scott Cato
Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at Roehampton University

Saftar Sarwar
Islamic Finance Council UK

Chris Cook
Senior Research Fellow, University College London

Discussion chair:
Michael Northcott, Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh

15:40 TEA / COFFEE
Ideas from seminars displayed on boards
16:00 PANEL DISCUSSION ����� Where next?
A chance to reflect on all the proposals that have been presented during the course of the conference; consider what our focus should be, as campaigners and policy-makers; outline our vision for the UK’s and for Scotland’s banking sector; and consider whether the desired changes require independence, or greater devolution?

  • Jim Mather, former SNP minister
  • Patrick Harvie, Co-convener of the Scottish Green Party
  • Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary to the STUC
  • Kathy Galloway, Head of Christian Aid Scotland & member of the Church of Scotland’s Commission on the Purposes of Economic Activity
  • Chris Hewett, Fellow of The Finance Innovation Lab and Associate at Green Alliance

Chaired by: Lesley Riddoch, broadcaster, journalist and commentator

17:25 Beth Stratford, Sustainable Economics Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland
Thanks; request for feedback forms; directions to pub