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Opinion

Niall Ferguson: Money, morality and a sales opportunity

 

While God’s banker Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’s chief executive, likes to do much of his work at 200 West Street in Lower Manhattan, the financial historian Niall Ferguson chose to publicize his latest work, a biography of Siegmund Warburg, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London last month, with an accompanying and passionate sermon on the morality of finance. One fashionably late Euromoney correspondent arrived five minutes after the address had begun, to find standing room only, as Ferguson stood upon a specially constructed pulpit evangelizing about the need for a new order in the world of finance.

Ferguson’s arm was raised, index finger pointed, his words echoing off the mosaics that cover the vast ceiling. He held the crowd in his hands, or should we say between his thumb and middle finger, and Warburg was his prophet.

They came in their thousands, the old, the middle aged, some of them bankers looking for redemption and some younger women clearly beguiled by Ferguson’s charisma – it was a mixed crowd.

And when it was over, the crowd swarmed towards a large table piled high with Siegmund Warburg’s biography ready for signing, flashing their money; business was good that night.

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