Finance is the evil we cannot live without. It governs almost every aspect of our lives and has the power to liberate as well as enslave. With the worldas total financial assetsavalued at a staggering $300 trillionabeing four times larger than the combined output of all the worldas economies, there is, apparently, plenty to go around. Yet, while proponents of finance-driven capitalism point to the trickle-down effect as its contribution to wealth redistribution, there are still nearly a billion people across the globe existing on less than $2 a day; 14 percent of Americans are living below the official poverty line; and disparities in wealth equality everywhere have reached unprecedented levels. Evidently a trickle is not enough.
How can this be when so much wealth abounds, and when finance is supposedly chastened and reformed after its latest global crisis? How, especially, can it be in an age when human rights are more loudly proclaimed than ever before? Can the financial sector be made to shoulder more of the burden of spreading wealth, reducing poverty, and protecting rights? And if so, what role can human rights play in making it happen?
In answering these questions, David Kinley draws on a vast array of material from bankers, economists, lawyers, and politicians, as well as human rights activists, philosophers, historians and anthropologists, alongside his own experiences working in the field. Necessary Evil shows how finance can shed its conceit, return to its role as the economyas servant not its master, and regain the public trust and credibility it has so spectacularly lost over the past decadeaall by helping human rights, not harming them.
David Kinley is Professor and Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Sydney, and an Academic Expert member of Doughty Street Chambers in London. He is a former Fulbright Senior Scholar at American University Washington College of Law, and has taught at Oxford and George Washington Universities as well as the Sorbonne. He is a co-author of The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (winner of an American Society of International Law Best Book Award) and author of Civilizing Globalization: Human Rights and the Global Economy. Born in Ireland and somewhat educated in England, he now lives in Australia.
Taming the money monsterThe argument