When it comes to political influence, money is not everything: ideas play a big role, too. But new ideas, like new drugs, have to pay their way, which means that how widely an idea is diffused depends to a large extent on how much money is at stake.
The recent departure of Robert Diamond from Barclays marks a watershed: the big showdowns between democracy and big bankers are still to come – both in the US and in continental Europe. On the surface, the banks remain powerful, yet their legitimacy continues to crumble.
The financial crisis of 2008 has spurred a global debate on how much government regulation of markets – and what kind – is appropriate. In the United States, it is a key theme in the upcoming presidential election, and it is shaping politics in Europe and emerging markets as well.