Here at FreshMinds we've just held the latest of our breakfast events, where we gather together senior individuals from specific sectors and chew the cud on a particular subject matter.
This time round we had the pleasure of hearing from Ed Conway, the Economics Editor of Sky News, on the parallels between today's economy and economic upheavals of the past, as discussed in his book 'The Summit: The Biggest Battle of the Second World War - fought behind closed doors'. This looks at the repairing of the World Economy that took place at Bretton Woods and the lessons that we can learn from it today. The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the world's major industrial states in the mid-20th century.
Don't worry, I will keep any spoilers to myself! I won't go into too much depth about the book itself, but I am sure that everyone in attendance will agree that the subject matter was fascinating, as were the correlations that Ed identified and analysed between the end of the Bretton Woods agreement in the early 1970s and the 2008 economic crisis and beyond.
Underpinned with a healthy dose of statistical analytics, anecdotal evidence - gained from the movers and shakers of the economic world - and a sprinkling of captivating human colour, Ed led a very lively and informed discussion.
Some really interesting points were raised during the breakfast. For instance, did you know...
that the money spent on Quantitative easing would be enough to buy every single property in Scotland, with spare change left over for Northern Ireland as well?
that at one point in 1944 we almost ended up with a global currency called Unicorn?!
that arguably the world’s most successful Global Economic agreement was put together in three weeks in a hotel in New Hampshire amidst a back drop of massive bar tabs, volleyball competitions, golf tournaments, heart attacks, and international tension and intrigue that would put any Wes Anderson film to shame?
There were also some very pertinent questions raised and hashed out around the table:
Was the economic crisis of 2008 a missed chance to strip down the global economic workings and start from fresh with something more akin to the Bretton Woods agreement?
Was quantitative easing just enough anaesthetic to mean that we are now ambling happily and inevitably to further crisis points across the global economic scene?
Does the misprice of risk, twinned with a nanny state, contribute to a national misunderstanding and misplaced sense of entitlement when it comes to having money "safe" in the bank?
Anyway, all told it was absorbing and we ended up with nowhere near enough time to moot an endless list of ideas on how to improve economic literacy as well as what (if any!) are the fundamental economic flaws in democracy! Either way it was a great event and as one guest commented afterwards a brilliant, stimulating and inspiring mid week mental exercise!