Page last updated at 01:30 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 02:30 UK

Archbishop condemns bank excesses

Dr Rowan Williams: "There hasn't been what I would, as a Christian, call repentance"

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the BBC he fears financiers feel no "repentance" for the excesses which led to the economic collapse.

Dr Rowan Williams said the government should have acted to cap bonuses.

He also warned that the gap between rich and poor would lead to an increasingly "dysfunctional" society.

But Gordon Brown says he is confident an agreement on greater regulation of the financial system can be reached at next week's G20 summit in the US.

Dr Williams told BBC Two's Newsnight programme: "There hasn't been a feeling of closure about what happened last year.

"There hasn't been what I would, as a Christian, call repentance. We haven't heard people saying 'well actually, no, we got it wrong and the whole fundamental principle on which we worked was unreal, was empty'."

What we are looking at is the possibility of a society getting more and more dysfunctional if the levels of inequality that we have seen in the last couple of decades are not challenged
Dr Rowan Williams

When asked if he thought the City was returning to "business as usual" Dr Williams said: "I worry. I feel that's precisely what I call the 'lack of closure' coming home to roost.

"It's a failure to name what was wrong. To name that, what I called last year 'idolatry', that projecting [of] reality and substance onto things that don't have them."

He also said that the crisis was a lesson that "economics is too important to be left to economists".

And he went to suggest there was a role for "awkward amateurs" in examining how the City operates.

Dr Williams also said there was a sense of "bafflement" and "muted anger" at the bonus culture.

"I think that's one of those things that feeds the... diffused resentment, that people are somehow getting away with a culture in which the connection between the worth of what you do and the reward you get becomes more obscure.

"What we are looking at is the possibility of a society getting more and more dysfunctional if the levels of inequality that we have seen in the last couple of decades are not challenged."

Further warnings

Dr Williams' comments come after a think tank warned the lessons of the economic crisis have not been learned.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the rapid return to the City's bonus culture showed real reform has been "very limited".

And those warnings echoed a speech by US President Barack Obama, who warned of complacency in the banking sector.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy have called for swift action to cap bankers' bonuses at next week's summit of leaders of the Group of 20 industrialised nations in Pittsburgh.

Speaking in Paris, Mr Brown said: "We're working on bonuses and how we deal with this problem, where high bonuses have appalled everyone across the world.

"And, we're also working on how we can get together, working together, a strategy for growth for the world in the years to come."



Print Sponsor


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific