Martin Vander Weyer Martin Vander Weyer

John Humphrys and the BBC’s disdain for market capitalism

Last week’s market tremor, provoked by renewed fears of eurozone stagnation and a slowdown in global growth, was serious enough for IMF chief Christine Lagarde to feel the need to pronounce, in her most soothing tone, that it was ‘maybe at this stage an over-reaction’. But if you were listening to the Today programme on Saturday morning, you might have thought it was all a bit of a joke — and one that served irresponsible investors right. In the absence of economics editor Robert Peston and his almost invisible successor as business editor, Kamal Ahmed, John Humphrys conducted a notably flippant interview with ‘one of the world’s most influential investors’, Jim Rogers — who in fact retired from Wall Street in 1980 to ride his motorbike, set up home in Singapore, punt his fortune in commodities and emerging Asia, and pour scorn on debt-addicted western governments and money-printing central banks. ‘A pox on all their houses,’ he once told The Spectator.

The amiable Rogers might admit he’s no expert on European economies and stock markets, since he doesn’t invest in them and is unlikely ever to do so. But for Today’s producers, one guru is as good as another in the great casino of greed. Humphrys didn’t seem to be listening to Rogers’s answers anyway, but was eager to ask whether everyone who has holdings ‘in the stock market or whatever’ should sell up and ‘stick the money under the bed or something?’ Mme Lagarde, if she was listening, must have been horrified. It was a classic example of BBC disdain for market capitalism.

This is an extract from this week’s magazine.

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