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Business & Economics Economics


Building a Better World for All

by (author) Mark Carney

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Mar 2021
Economics, Globalization, Finance
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
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A bold and urgent argument by economist and former bank governor Mark Carney on the radical, foundational change that is required if we are to build an economy and society based not on market values but on human values.

Our world is full of fault lines--growing inequality in income and opportunity; systemic racism; health and economic crises from a global pandemic; mistrust of experts; the existential threat of climate change; deep threats to employment in a digital economy with robotics on the rise. These fundamental problems and others like them, argues Mark Carney, stem from a common crisis in values. Drawing on the turmoil of the past decade, Mark Carney shows how "market economies" have evolved into "market societies" where price determines the value of everything.
     When we think about what we, as individuals, value most highly, we might list fairness, health, the protection of our rights, economic security from poverty, the preservation of natural diversity, resources, and beauty. The tragedy is, these things that we hold dearest are too often the casualties of our twenty-first century world, where they ought to be our bedrock.
     In this profoundly important new book, Mark Carney offers a vision of a more humane society and a practical manifesto for getting there. How we reform our infrastructure to make things better and fairer is at the heart of every chapter, with outlines of wholly new ideas that can restructure society and enshrine our human values at the core of all that we build for our children and grandchildren.

About the author

Contributor Notes

MARK CARNEY is currently the U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and the U.K.'s Finance Advisor for COP26. Mark was previously Governor of the Bank of England (2013-2020), and Governor of the Bank of Canada (2008-2013).

Internationally, Mark was Chair of the Financial Stability Board (2011-2018). He chaired the Global Economy Meeting and Economic Consultative Committee of the Bank for International Settlements (2018-2020), and was First Vice-Chair of the European Systemic Risk Board (2013-2020). He is a member of the Group of Thirty, the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, and the boards of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and the Hoffman Institute for Global Business and Society at INSEAD.

Mark obtained a bachelor degree in Economics from Harvard and masters and doctorate degrees in Economics from Oxford. Born in Fort Smith, NWT, he lives in Ottawa.

Excerpt: Values: Building a Better World for All (by (author) Mark Carney)



The car weaves silently through the City. When it reaches St Michael’s Lothbury, it waits momentarily while security guards swing open giant steel gates, and it then rolls into the bullion yard. I get out, pass through an alarmed door, by enormous vaults, and up a granite staircase. I rub the nose of the lion adorning a brass portal as I enter the inner sanctum. I bid good morning to the pink-jacketed stewards, walk by portraits of my predecessors and step into the office of the Governor of the Bank of England.
Everything I see evokes the history of the Bank and the perma­nence of its mission. The entrance hall echoes the style of British imperial capitals. The corridors are lined with mosaics showing images of Roman coins and Mercury, the god of commerce. Lions – the traditional guardians of treasure – populate the gilded stair wells and front the doors.
The Governor’s office is much as it has been over the centuries. The desk has been in continual use since it was crafted by Sir John Soane in the eighteenth century. One wall is dominated by a gigantic Canaletto, depicting the Thames in the late seventeenth century. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open on to a tranquil courtyard that preserves the seventeenth-century churchyard of St Christopher-le- Stocks.
There are symbols of money and value everywhere. Mulberry trees outside the windows allude to the earliest paper currency that was fashioned out of their bark. Mercury’s winged head oversees the magnificent Court room where griffons guard the portals as steadfastly as they did the mythical pile of gold at the centre of the earth.
There’s real gold at the centre of the Bank. Beneath my feet, nine vaults with three-foot steel walls are filled with 5,500 tons of bullion that the market values at over $180 billion. That’s 5 per cent of all the gold ever mined since the dawn of humanity.
Everything appears solid, safe, permanent.
But all is not what it seems. The Empire is gone. The Union is under threat. Permanence is temporary. And value is an illusion.
Of Soane’s original Bank of England – an architectural master­piece designed to stand for a millennium – only the exterior walls, the state rooms and the desk remain. The Canaletto is now recog­nised as being ‘of the school’ not ‘by the master’.
The gold lies pointlessly in our vaults, a vestige of a bygone era when it backed the value of money – a link that became a cross, inspiring booms before triggering busts. Financial markets value gold for its perceived safety not for its revealed beauty. The gold price surges with fears of financial distress or geopolitical conflict. In such times of turbulence, faith in a commodity replaces trust in institutions.
Gold’s gyrations are a reminder that the permanence of the Bank of England relies on its values. And that value is built on values.
For over twelve years, I had the privilege and challenge of being a G7 governor, first in Canada and latterly in the UK. During this time I saw kingdoms of gold rise and fall. I led global reforms to fix the fault lines that caused the financial crisis, worked to heal the malignant culture at the heart of financial capitalism and began to address both the fundamental challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution1 and the existential risks from climate change. I felt the collapse in public trust in elites, globalisation and technology. And I became convinced that these challenges reflect a common crisis in values and that radical changes are required to build an economy that works for all.
Whenever I could step back from what felt like daily crisis management, the same deeper issues loomed. What is value? How is it grounded? Which values underpin value? Can the very act of valuation shape our values and constrain our choices? How do the valuations of markets affect the values of our society? Does the narrowness of our vision, the poverty of our perspective, mean we undervalue what matters to our collective wellbeing?
These are the questions that this book seeks to explore. It will examine how our society came to embody Wilde’s aphorism – knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing. How by elevating belief in the market to an inviolable truth we moved from a market economy to a market society. And how we can turn this around.

Editorial Reviews

"A fantastic read for anyone interested in the most pressing issues facing the world. Carney articulates the dilemmas that lie between society's values and the economic market's value. He proposes a more fruitful path for bringing them closer together, so that the challenges we face can be seen as opportunities to solve. The need for a world of profit with better purpose is explained in such a clear and persuasive style. I hope it gets read by many people. His final chapter about humility, alone, is worthy for its lovely description of the realities of the journey to apparent success." —Jim O'Neil, chair of Chatham House, former chairman, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, former commercial secretary to the Treasury
"Value(s) is a radical book and speaks out accessibly as to how we get everyone involved in solving our problems. And this is what we need: 50 Shades of People for 50 Shades of Green. Great leadership is not a bull horn but rather, as Mark Carney shows, a set of clear instructions in a smoke-filled room." —Bono

"An essential book for anyone interested in how to ensure a sustainable and fair future for generations to come. Mark Carney argues that we must increasingly draw on our fundamental Canadian values to ensure that markets work to bend the arc of history towards climate and social justice and a sustainable future. His ten point plan for a sustainable recovery is what the next generation needs and deserves. Carney envisions a future for Canada, coming out of the Pandemic, that builds value for all and recognizes that our economy is deeply embedded in nature, not apart from it." —Edward Burtynsky

"Writing with the benefit of almost two decades at the heart of global financial policymaking higher circles, Mark Carney's indispensable new book asks how we can go from knowing the price of everything to understanding its true value. From the Great Financial Crisis to climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, this is the essential handbook for 21st century leaders, policymakers and everyone who wants to build a fair and sustainable world." —Christine Lagarde, former chair and managing director of the IMF and president of the European Central Bank
"For nearly two decades, Mark Carney, international technocrat par excellence, has been in the most important rooms where it happened. In this thought-provoking and readable book, he asks a fundamental question: Why have the values in our society been hijacked by valuations in the market, and how do we restore paramountcy to basic values like integrity, fairness, and kindness? Carney brings to Value(s) the experience and wisdom of someone who has occupied the highest positions in the private and public sectors as well as the idealism of one who hopes for a better tomorrow. As societies struggle to rebuild solidarity in the post-Covid world, it will be an essential guide." —Raghuram Rajan, former chief economist and director of research at the IMF
"A roadmap to a fairer and more responsible, resilient world. Carney offers trenchant insights into our relationship with money and status, imagination and responsibility critical to our world's future. What do we invest in – profit or human potential? This book is irradiated with the inspiring and critical conviction that money can be transformed into a tool of collective good." —Sir Antony Gormley
"Mark Carney draws on his unique experience of running two central banks to offer original and thought provoking solutions to the world's biggest challenges — from COVID to climate change." —Gordon Brown, former U.K. Prime Minister