Things Fall Apart, the seminal 1958 book by Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe, explores the transformation of pre-colonial Nigerian society through the increasing influence of European colonialism and Christian missionaries towards the end of the 19th century.
More than a century later, in many ways, we are witness today to a similar period of radical social disruption and moral uncertainty, which is reflected across all spheres of life, from politics to economics and finance.
Over the past year, we have endured the unprecedented shock of a global pandemic.
Riots, looting and protests have broken out in various parts of the world, culminating perhaps most publicly in the storming of the Capitol building in the US at the start of this year.
Prior to that, we watched the dismantling of the European project, as Britain voted to leave the EU.
Fears are currently mounting that Poland may soon follow suit.
There has been a marked increase in the paranoia of the Chinese leadership, which is seeking ever more explicitly to clamp down on the social freedoms of its citizens.
And just a few months ago, we watched terrifying scenes as the US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, leaving the country to the rule of the Taliban.
Around the world there has been a notable increase in populist rhetoric and support for right-wing politicians.
The result: for the first time in twenty years, there are today more nations under authoritarian rule than there are democracies.
Simultaneously, in the financial sphere, there has been an increasingly strong desire to depart from established institutions and processes in favour of trust-less, jurisdiction-less financial systems.
This is most evident in the proliferation of the idea of decentralised finance and the widening application of highly misunderstood blockchain technology, which is hailed as the solution to just about anything.
The celebration of chaos that lies at the heart of these developments is articulated even by established banks and institutions promoting deregulation and the avoidance of jurisdictional boundaries.
The largest banking system on earth is now based in China, where banks hold close to $49 trillion of assets.
Despite the economic implications of the Covid-19 pandemic – which has left 40% of American households struggling financially – stock markets around the world are at an all-time high.
There has also been a greater increase in the number of billionaires over the last year than ever before in history.
Leading nations are currently employing an extreme form of money supply, and any hint of reducing that supply is met with inordinately strong market reactions.
Today, there is four times more money in the world, in form of money supply, than there was twenty years ago.
The collapse of the giant Chinese property developer Evergrande, the purchase of Newcastle United by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, the unprecedented shortage of truck drivers in the UK, skyrocketing fuel prices across Europe, the seemingly unwavering popularity of cryptocurrency (despite its obvious flaws), the incredible rise of global inequality, the spectre of inflation – these are just a few examples of the news headlines we are observing on a daily basis, a smorgasbord of chaos, disruption and uncertainty, underscored by the diminishing desire of the West to promote global democracy and ideals.
Why are these things happening now, at this time in history?
What is the real underlying cause of this wave of discontent and disruption?
And what is the logical conclusion of these significant social and economic trends?
These are the questions that have preoccupied authors David Buckham (CEO of Monocle), Robyn Wilkinson and Christiaan Straeuli for the last year.
Determined to delve deeper into the disturbing trends they were observing, they decided to interrogate the facts and data underlying major political, social and financial developments on the international stage.
With a particular focus on the changes that have taken place in the banking system, which not only sits at the centre of the global financial system, but which is uniquely intertwined with the geopolitical and social spheres, the authors attempted to unravel some of the causes of the changes we are currently seeing in the financial markets, and the world at large.
We are very proud to announce that the book that resulted, entitled The End of Money: The Great Erosion of Trust in Banking, China’s Minsky Moment and the Fallacy of Cryptocurrency, is now available at bookstores, including Exclusive Books, in store and online.
To join the virtual book launch on the 4th of November 2021, hosted by Bruce Whitfield, in conversation with the authors, David Buckham, Robyn Wilkinson, and Christiaan Straeuli, as well as renowned economists Adrian Saville and Thabi Leoka, click here.
Published by Mercury and distributed by Jacana Media.