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Mark Carney’s Value(s) moans about free markets – but his Brave New World alternative is a muddled farce

March 21, 2021

By Paul Homewood


h/t Patsy Lacey


This is a rather excellent review of the new book by Mark Carney, which shows just how dangerous an individual he really is:




Humanity faces huge challenges, from climate change to inequality, the pandemic to AI. Mark Carney, the former Bank of England governor, says that tackling any of them requires an urgent prerequisite: rethinking “value”.

In his new 608-page book, Carney laments the economic consensus that “value is subjective”. This pillar of economics says that the value of goods, such as cars, are determined not by their gadgets or the labour producing them but by individuals’ judgments of the car’s importance in meeting our own needs. You may highly value having a convertible roof for summer; I do not. But my decision to buy a simpler car for, say, £20,000, shows that I value that car by at least that much. Value, then, is in the eye of the beholder.

In each case, voluntary trade makes both buyer and seller better off – each side giving up something they consider of lesser value (me, the money; the seller, the car). So, to create value through exchange, market trades should be left unhindered, except when obvious market failures arise that governments must act upon.

According to Carney, however, our “marketised society”, governed by this principle, corrupts society’s “values”, because it blurs the distinction between market prices and “social value”. Price is conflated with value, such that everything unpriced is seen as non-valuable. Amazon, the company, has a $1.5 trillion equity valuation. The biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest appears on no ledger until it is converted to farm land.

We therefore need to move away from “unfettered capitalism”, he says, to an economic model where, rather than pursuing our own subjective interests, society forges “consensus” on its objectives based on our “shared values”. Markets can then be “marshalled to help discover and drive solutions in a form of mission-oriented capitalism”. So we might call “sustainability” our value and make mitigating climate change an objective. Capitalism should be harnessed to deliver that goal.

Mark Carney's anti-market rhetoric in Value(s) is catnip to a Davos-attending technocratic elite

Mark Carney’s anti-market rhetoric in Value(s) is catnip to a Davos-attending technocratic elite CREDIT: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

In many ways, Carney is attacking a straw man here. Nobody thinks an absence of prices suggests something is not valuable. I value my parents, even though I can’t trade them. People volunteering to sew PPE, or help the NHS during Covid-19, does not reflect the limitations of a market system in harnessing social value, as Carney claims; merely that we are also willing to engage in non-market activities in return for rewards other than money, such as self-esteem.

Carney’s anti-market rhetoric, though, is catnip to a Davos-attending technocratic elite, who bemoan “unfettered capitalism” (despite the fact that, as regulators, lobbyists and beneficiaries of cronyism, they are doing a pretty good job of fettering the supposed laissez-faire consensus).

Ultimately, when he suggests that we place too much faith in the wisdom of markets and their prices, what he is really saying is that individuals have too much decision‑making power and that greater power should be transferred to worthies to decide what is best for us. But who makes those decisions, and how, in a world where we disagree profusely is something Carney never really addresses.

The truth is that markets are good at deliberating these tensions. They allow our differences to be traded off, and minority views served. Non‑market collective decisions, however, are inevitably made via forms of politics in business or government, with all their clashes of values, corruption and tribalism. Carney brushes this off as harmonious “consensus”, but in reality, they are often bitter contests for monopoly power.

On cue, Carney unveils his list of values that he thinks should drive individuals, business and governments: “solidarity,” “fairness,” “responsibility,” “resilience,” “sustainability,” “dynamism,” and “humility.” Conspicuously absent is “freedom”. But a bigger vacuum is any explanation of how these values would be traded off in his brave new world. Governments deciding to give unemployed workers more taxpayer money might reflect “solidarity”, yet it undermines “dynamism”. Making society-wide decisions is riddled with such thorny trade‑offs. Take the pandemic. Carney correctly observes that, as a society, we undervalued resilience before the pandemic. Our failure to learn from East Asian experiences with Sars and Mers cost thousands of lives and, so far, 12 months of living – impacts that could have been mitigated through tiny prior public health investments.

Yet our failure in preparation here wasn’t due to markets’ corrupting influence, but politicians spurning public health to prioritise public services, welfare and pensions. Why? Because politicians get rewarded for spending today and providing relief when crises hit; not for unseen investments to protect against emergencies perceived as unlikely. Yet Carney would have politics play an even bigger role in our lives.

On cue, Carney unveils his list of values that he thinks should drive individuals, business and governments: “solidarity,” “fairness,” “responsibility,” “resilience,” “sustainability,” “dynamism,” and “humility.” Conspicuously absent is “freedom”

Many more government failures, in fact, were down to the very “values” Carney wants us to enshrine. If medical regulators had allowed a market in human challenge trials sooner – with individuals offered money for deliberate Covid-19 infection in controlled environments, allowing rapid vaccine efficacy assessments – the pandemic could be over now. How many lives were sacrificed because of a politically enforced “value” that said it was unethical to deliberately infect someone, even if they personally accepted the risk-reward trade-off of infection, and their bravery brought massive social benefits?

Carney likewise says that policymakers were right not to use formal cost-benefit analyses to weigh up the impact of lockdowns on the economy, health, and civil liberties – a technocratic method which puts a notional value on deaths avoided. Instead, he says, society expressed a “values” preference for minimising deaths through blanket social distancing regulations. From that, he says, it follows that government’s primary objective was to minimise deaths – and only then think about delivering it in the least costly way. Yet in his Reith Lecture, Carney said “due respect” should also be given to “inequality, mental health and other social consequences”. That sounds an awful lot like weighing up trade-offs, but with Carney’s own judgment determining the priority.

And that’s the recurring problem with this book. Carney outlines his own policy preferences – for rapid decarbonisation, stakeholder capitalism, more diversity, more government investment, and other progressive goals – as if they reflected objective, universally held values. He likewise downplays the trade-offs inevitably required when allocating resources or determining priorities. The green agenda is described as “win-win-win” for all – with no acknowledgement of the massive transition costs to a low-carbon economy. Businesses are told that embracing stakeholder capitalism will make them more profitable, but also that solely pursuing profits will undermine social value. This is the profit variant of “this food is disgusting and the portions are too small”.

When reading this dense – often muddled – book, which touches on everything from Bitcoin to climate change in extraordinary detail, I couldn’t help wondering whether Carney’s central argument was less a principled objection to our “marketised society”, more a tirade of frustration that our current freely made economic and political choices do not conform to the preferences of Mark Carney.


Above all, this book reveals that it was never about the climate. All along, Carney and the rest of the Davos elite have wanted to change society to conform to what they think it should be like.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    March 21, 2021 3:41 pm

    “We therefore need to move away from “unfettered capitalism”, he says, to an economic model where, rather than pursuing our own subjective interests, society forges “consensus” on its objectives based on our “shared values”.”

    With respect to climate change and global warming a “consensus” was forged. But it has little real value simply because good science is not done by “votes”.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      March 21, 2021 6:12 pm

      And, to expand on his analogy of what a car means to him, he would have us all driving Trabants. Probably not electric though. (Thank God).

  2. JimW permalink
    March 21, 2021 3:46 pm

    They don’t conform to the preferences of Mr Carney’s wife, pretty similar to UK’s PM’s partner’ preferences.
    Carney has been one of the shock troopers leading the ‘resource contrained’ capitalism that underpins the new biotech fascist totalitarian regime that gripe the anglosphere.
    They want to decide what investments make money, with guaranteed returns with all risks/losses put on the plebs.

    • Tim Leeney permalink
      March 21, 2021 4:15 pm

      Insider trading, I believe it’s called.

  3. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    March 21, 2021 3:54 pm

    Carnage opposes mining in Cumbria while profiting from mining in Australia….

  4. Paul Michaels permalink
    March 21, 2021 3:57 pm

    Ah! Mark Carnage, probably never had a real job, yet he somehow knows how the world should run. At best he is simply anti choice for us plebs, at worst he is a self serving psychopath with grandiose ambitions for whatever remains of his lifespan.
    If only he was the only one 😦

    • Duker permalink
      March 21, 2021 9:27 pm

      a Real job ?
      He was high flyer for 13 years at that golden temple of capitalism Goldman Sachs
      But more amusing was this about his PhD at Oxford
      The title of his DPhil thesis is “The dynamic advantage of competition”.

      • Tim C permalink
        March 22, 2021 1:39 am

        Duker, Paul is right, Goldman Sachs, like all such firms are essentially parasitic.

      • March 22, 2021 10:51 am

        Sacks of Gold — just looking for new ways of tilting the economic playing field even further in their direction.

  5. Stonyground permalink
    March 21, 2021 4:18 pm

    Free market capitalism works a hundred times better than any other system ever tried. It isn’t perfect but it works better than anything else. Why is there always some idiot who thinks that he has a better way which always looks suspiciously like all the ways that have failed spectacularly in the past?

  6. Vernon E permalink
    March 21, 2021 4:23 pm

    Davos says it all. Pure, unfettered UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainability. At last its starting to come out.

  7. Robert Christopher permalink
    March 21, 2021 4:35 pm

    And this guy was a Bank of England governor? 🙂

    • Gerry, England permalink
      March 22, 2021 2:38 pm

      Yes, and bloody awful at that too. Appointed by Osborne – another idiot.

  8. Philip Mulholland permalink
    March 21, 2021 4:50 pm

    “a muddled farce”
    Sadly this theatre for the amusement of the gods is way beyond farce, we are now deep into tragedy.

  9. Thomas Carr permalink
    March 21, 2021 5:29 pm

    Glad you spotted this one. I had read it by 10.30 and was little the wiser by 12.30 . The book
    does him no good at all. Incoherent idealism at its worst.

  10. Coeur de Lion permalink
    March 21, 2021 5:34 pm

    Oh dear- Boris’s Saudi Wind is down to eight percent.

  11. George Lawson permalink
    March 21, 2021 5:49 pm

    What muddled thinking from a man who was Chairman of the Bank of England. Now we know why he was such a failure in that position.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      March 21, 2021 6:05 pm

      George, I fear that his failure as Governor was allowed to continue and was hidden from popular view by those who thought they would benefit – not for the benefit of the many, but for themselves.

  12. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 21, 2021 5:57 pm

    Humanity faces huge challenges, from climate change to inequality, the pandemic to AI.

    May I submit that my antecedents’ ‘humanity’ faced equally huge – and greater – challenges in the 20thC: Two WWs that cost upwards of 40 million lives and the financial costs (not to mention 60+ other wars(!)); genocides; a major ‘flu pandemic that claimed >two million lives; major slumps and recessions; terrorism in spades; and now -around the World – corrupt, kleptocratic (mainly) socialist governments – who want to use the unreal threat of Climate Change plus the real threat of electoral fraud to pursue their failed hegemony in the ongoing and predictable failure that they will inflict on my descendants. God help them; Mark Carney cannot nor will not.

  13. alexei permalink
    March 21, 2021 7:28 pm

    A member of the Great Reset Set.

  14. bobn permalink
    March 21, 2021 7:33 pm

    He is just another elitist preaching 1970’s socialism. In a nutshell (pun intended) he believes he and his Davos superior beings should occupy all positions of power and dictate how the world is run. His only difference from the Nazis is that they believed in National Socialism and he believes in International Socialism. At heart its still the same dictatorship of elites that the fascist Plato admired, and which caused all the World Wars.

  15. bobn permalink
    March 21, 2021 7:35 pm

    And yes Paul. He is dangerous. This book reads too close to Mein Kampf for my comfort.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 21, 2021 9:57 pm

      You’ve read Mein Kampf? Is it worth the trouble? Will I learn anything from reading it?

      • bobn permalink
        March 22, 2021 1:17 am

        Part of studying History at University. Not worth the trouble for ideas, but you do learn about an arrogant, elitist, self-righteous state of mind. He believed that science was settled. He thought he had all the answers and the best ‘value’ system that should be imposed on the ignorant masses. He opposed capitalism, as all economics should be directed to focus on the consensus of shared and greater values – values he knew and would dictate to the less enlightened.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 22, 2021 10:45 am

        Thx, bobn.

        I’ll leave it unread.

      • bobn permalink
        March 22, 2021 11:47 am

        Probably what is most revealing in the book is that he was an ardent Anglophile. He was convinced Britain was similar to Germany, and would cooperate with Germany against the French, who he saw as Britain’s natural enemy. If you are a student of WW2 and want to understand the motivations (and delusions) then you do have to skim through it.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 22, 2021 2:27 pm

        Dang it, bobn. Now, I have to read it. I am very knowledgeable of WWII. I have quite a library. Perhaps I shouldn’t call it a library without a copy of Mein Kampf.

      • Duker permalink
        March 22, 2021 8:32 pm

        Im surprised he was ‘literary’ enough to write a book even with simple nostrums strung together as ideas. He was stridently anti- church and Christianity in general as well and the vegetarianism- anti smoking was ahead of his time.
        The bad news is that there was a ‘Second book’ he dictated but never published
        This claim is startling
        ‘At a time when most people worldwide felt strongly that one colossal war was more than enough for the century, an increasing number of Germans could hardly wait for another one. At least in this regard, they would not be disappointed. Almost 2 million German soldiers lost their lives in the first world war. More than 5.3 million would die in the second. In this way, Hitler didn’t mislead the German people. He delivered on his promise.”

  16. Duker permalink
    March 21, 2021 9:34 pm

    Brookfield Asset management is his current high paid gig
    But Wikipedia entry for Carney notes:
    ” In February 2021 Carney, had to retract an earlier claim that the $600bn Brookfield Asset Management portfolio was carbon neutral. He based his claim on the fact that Brookfield has a large renewable energy portfolio and “all the avoided emissions that come with that”. The claim was criticized as accounting tricks as avoided emissions do not counteract the emissions from investments in coal and other fossil fuels…”

    The ‘Net’ Carbon Neutral scam exposed yet again, especially when the avoided emissions are used over and over again

  17. Gamecock permalink
    March 21, 2021 10:09 pm

    ‘We therefore need to move away from “unfettered capitalism”, he says’

    Oh, it’s plenty fettered.

    ‘to an economic model where, rather than pursuing our own subjective interests, society forges “consensus” on its objectives based on our “shared values”.’

    Pursuing other people’s interests. How’s that going to work out?

    ‘Markets can then be “marshalled to help discover and drive solutions in a form of mission-oriented capitalism”. So we might call “sustainability” our value and make mitigating climate change an objective. Capitalism should be harnessed to deliver that goal.’

    Capitalism is Marx’s pejorative for free enterprise. “Mission-oriented capitalism” is a lie. Free enterprise is not mission oriented enterprise. If ‘harnessed,’ it isn’t free.

    Now guess: does the former Bank of England governor not know what I just said? Of course he knows. He’s a lying turd. The public might be forgiven for not knowing economics; a former Bank of England governor cannot. He is evil.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 22, 2021 9:15 am

      It’s like he’s never read or never understood Hayek. Who gets to marshall us? Who gets to decide what end we get marshalled too? And on what basis? As Hayek showed, nobody can ever know enough to do it well, and any marshalling will always require coercion or worse. Carney seems to think he’s saying something new or interesting but this is simply the “economics” of Stalin/Mao/Hitler.

  18. Karl Smith permalink
    March 22, 2021 4:14 am
    What are the real facts

    Sent from my iPad

  19. tom0mason permalink
    March 22, 2021 6:16 am

    Mark Carney, yet another pseud posing as a ‘social warrior’ in the guise of an economist.
    Knows the costs but fails to understand values, employment, enterprise, or the working of a proper free and fair market economy.
    How this toady for mainly foreign BIG businesses and not for national enterprise got to the positions he has is a mystery — a well connected lap-dog for BIG businesses?

  20. NeilC permalink
    March 22, 2021 7:17 am

    “You may highly value having a convertible roof for summer; I do not”
    With the Mediterranean climate we are supposed to be having, I would have thought that was a prerequisite. .

    • Stonyground permalink
      March 22, 2021 7:26 am

      Too draughty. Climate control is a lot more comfortable. Incidentally, a couple of years ago I was out on my bike on a scorching hot day and a convertible went by with the hood up. My immediate thought was, if not today then when?

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 22, 2021 10:51 am

        Spoken like someone who has never had a convertible.

        The roof provides shade when it’s hot. In America, when it’s hot, you put the roof up and turn the A/C on. The drop top is for moderate weather.

  21. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 22, 2021 9:12 am

    Its astonishing that a man who headed the BoE is so completely ignorant.

    He is advocating socialism, where “society” decides on value, that’s all. And he ignores the fact that markets are quite capable of valuing things like the Amazon – this is a Tragedy of the Commons problem, not a market problem. If people can make more money out of having the Amazon pristine than they can out of farming it, then it will stay pristine.

    Extraordinary arrogance regurgitating debunked theories just because we don’t all value that he values.

  22. Vernon E permalink
    March 22, 2021 10:38 am

    Does everyone recognise that our government has actually signed up to this nonsene? Its coming whether we like it or not – Boris is a believer.

  23. Fred from Canuckistan permalink
    March 22, 2021 12:41 pm

    Fraudster con Carney

  24. Mike Rutherford permalink
    March 22, 2021 2:37 pm

    I haven’t read the book but watched the Reith lectures. I can’t help feeling many people are attacking Carney for being alive! Having set up and run and exited a number of businesses successfully I have a great deal of sympathy with his position on values. He lauds Thatcher for freeing the markets to release economic growth, but in my view recognises that it has gone too far to the point where nothing but money or trade matters. The financial collapse that Goldmen Sachs was such a big part of, was a simple fraud on the public and institutions to maximise profit. Bundling nine tenths crap with 10% investment grade and then getting the rating agencies to denominate it investment grade was a simple fraud. No-one goes to jail, many make 10s some 100s of millions of dollars in bonuses and we the plebs, pay to protect them all. The market creates the problem by maximising profit without value. Its operators benefit overall to the tune of billions of $s. 10s of thousands of businesses go broke. Millions lose their jobs. 10s of thousands lose their homes. So no the market will not solve all problems and it never was free, it is controlled by the investors at the margin and always has been. Similarly the point about the rain forrest. It won’t exist if we follow your arguement.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 23, 2021 10:03 pm

      “but in my view recognises that it has gone too far to the point where nothing but money or trade matters”


      If money or trade is what matters to people, it’s none of your beeswax.

      Capitalism is freedom. You are against freedom.

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