Carney's Warning To The Markets

Capitalism Eating Its Children

by Roger Cohen

LONDON — Guildhall at the heart of the City can be a lulling sort of place after a long day. The statuary and vaulted timber ceiling of the medieval great hall lead the eye to wander and the mind to muse on Britain’s strangest quirk — its centuries of continuity. Grace is said, claret is served, glasses clink and dreaminess sets in. A keynote speech from a central banker is all that is required to complete the soporific effect.

Or so one would think, until Mark Carney, the Canadian governor of the Bank of England, lays into unfettered capitalism. “Just as any revolution eats its children,” he says, “unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself.”

All ideologies, he continues, are prone to extremes. Belief in the power of the market entered “the realm of faith” before the 2008 meltdown. Market economies became market societies. They were characterized by “light-touch regulation” and “the belief that bubbles cannot be identified.”

Carney pulls no punches. Big banks were too big to fail, operating in a “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose bubble.” Benchmarks were rigged for personal gain. Equity markets blatantly favored “the technologically empowered over the retail investor.” Mistrust grew — and persists.

“Prosperity requires not just investment in economic capital, but investment in social capital,” Carney argues, having defined social capital as “the links, shared values and beliefs in a society which encourage individuals not only to take responsibility for themselves and their families but also to trust each other and work collaboratively to support each other.”

A stirring through the hall, a focusing of gazes — Carney has the attention of the chief executives, bankers and investors gathered here for a conference on “Inclusive Capitalism.” His bluntness reflects the fact that, six years after the crisis, the core problem has not gone away: The deep unease and anger in developed countries about the ways globalization and technology magnify returns for the super-rich, operating in a world of low taxation and lax regulation where short-term gain becomes a guiding principle, even as societies become more unequal, offering diminished opportunities to the young, less community and a growing sense of unfairness.

Anyone seeking the source of the anger behind populist movements in Europe and the United States (and the Piketty fever) need look no further than this. Anti-immigration, anti-Europe movements won in European elections because people feel cheated, worried about their children. As Bill Clinton noted a couple of hours before Carney’s speech, the first reaction of human beings who feel “insecure and under stress” is the urge to “hang with our own kind.” And the world’s greatest challenge is defining “the terms of our interdependence.”

There is still a tendency to think politicians must do this work of definition. But in Nobody’s World, driven by social media and global corporations, corporate leaders have more power to change things than elected officials. If short-termism prevails and the importance of social capital and community is dismissed, then anger will rise. Companies are not well served by boards that are too often, in the words of one participant, “male, stale and pale.”

Well he is a Canadian reflecting Canadian values. No wonder the Canadian middle class is doing better than their American counterparts...

Carney lays out the extent of the problem: “40 percent of recent graduates in U.S. are underemployed and youth unemployment is around 50 percent in the worst affected countries in the euro area.”

His prescription: End through strict regulation and resilience tests the scandal of too-big-to-fail, where “bankers made enormous sums” and “taxpayers picked up the tab for their failures.” Recreate fair and effective markets with real transparency and make every effort — through codes of conduct and even regulatory obligations — to instill a new integrity among traders (even if social capital cannot be contractual). Curtail compensation offering large bonuses for short-term returns; end the overvaluing of the present and the discounting of the future; ensure that “where problems of performance or risk management are pervasive,” bonuses are adjusted “for whole groups of employees.”

Above all, understand that, “The answers start from recognizing that financial capitalism is not an end in itself, but a means to promote investment, innovation, growth and prosperity. Banking is fundamentally about intermediation — connecting borrowers and savers in the real economy. In the run-up to the crisis, banking became about banks not businesses; transactions not relations; counterparties not clients.”

In other words, human beings matter. An age that has seen emergence from poverty on a massive scale in the developing world has been accompanied by the spread of a new poverty (of life and of expectations) in much of the developed world. Global convergence has occurred alongside internal divergence. Interdependence is a reality, but the way it works is skewed. Clinton noted that ants, bees, termites and humans have all survived through an unusual shared characteristic: They are cooperative forms of life. But it is precisely the loss at all levels of community, of social capital, that most threatens the world’s stability and future prosperity.


Posted on May 30, 2014 .

The Wisdom Way

"Some native traditions see ancestor spirits (family members and friends who are no longer living) as important teachers of detachment because they have faced the process of letting go and of experiencing the ultimate unknown, death. Indigenous peoples believe that these spirits literally stand behind us to support us in our life dream and purpose. The majority of shamanic traditions believe that the male ancestor spirits stand behind us on the right side of the body, and the female ancestor spirits stand behind us on the left side of the body. They believe that the ancestor spirits are invested in seeing that the current generations and the generations to come fulfill their dreams or life purpose."

                                                                                                – Angeles Arrien



Posted on May 29, 2014 .

Good Friday

Truth seems like a value in decline, associated with an earlier, simpler time when character was a matter of honor and what you said and did was a matter of self-respect.

Daniel Boorstin, the American professor and writer, warns us of the consequences of the decline of truth in modern society: “’Truth’ has been displaced by ‘believability’ as the test of the statements which dominate our lives.”

 More recently, the American comedian, Stephen Colbert coined the satirical term “truthiness”– the conscious avoidance of facts, logic, evidence and rational analysis – to describe the same condition. “What is truth,” asked Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus?6 It is easy to imagine a combination of skepticism, mockery, resignation, and weariness in Pilate’s tone as he asks one of the most famous questions in history.

Washing his hands of the pursuit of truth and his responsibility to uphold it, Pilate becomes the archetype of the weak, closed and doubting-hearted politician. His profession has yet to recover. 

Posted on April 18, 2014 .

A User's Guide

At birth we should all be handed a User’s Guide that reads: “The life you are embarking upon will be shaped by the status quo and by your own personal vision. The way it works is this: in the absence of a vision that is rooted in your heart’s truth, your thinking and your actions will always conform to the status quo.” 

Posted on April 11, 2014 .

Throw Yourself Like A Seed

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit;

sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate

that brushes your heel as it turns by,

the man who wants to live is the man in whom life is abundant.


Now you are only giving food to that final pain

which is slowly winding you in the nets of death

but to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts

is the work; start then, turn to the work.


Throw yourself like a seed as you walk, and into your own field,

don’t turn your face for that would be to turn to death,

and do not let the past weigh down your motion.


Leave what’s alive in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself,

for life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds;

from your work you will be able one day to gather yourself.

                                                                                                    – Miguel de Unamuno


Posted on March 10, 2014 .

Are You A Control Freak?

Working for a Control Freak is no fun. Being one is even worse.


Everyone wants to have the experience of being treated with respect at work. For most of us, feeling respected is being trusted to do our job.


That’s especially true when we have demonstrated competence and sound judgment over time. It’s demoralizing, then, when our work comes under suspicion, scrutiny and interference by authority figures.


Are you:


• Addicted to perfection?


• Highly judgmental and critical?


• Always afraid of something going wrong?


• Can’t trust others to do a good job?


• A micromanager?


• Worrying constantly?


• Obsessed over the minutest detail?


• Interrogating subordinates looking for faults and mistakes?


• Always expecting Catastrophe to strike?


If that’s you, you have and are a problem. Your stress levels are making your life, and the lives of those around you, miserable.


Discovering the source of your anxieties is a good first step in overcoming them. Subconscious fears and insecurities can cause controlling behavior.


Low self esteem, failure in the past, being the target of blame, and fears associated with vulnerability can also contribute to controlling behavior.


Overcoming fear is a remedy. Working with therapist and coach can aid in recovering self-trust and rebuild and strengthen relationships with others.


Time to resign as the Master of the Universe. It doesn’t need your guidance, works better without you on its case, and needs a break from constant interference.


And you deserve some rest.


Posted on March 5, 2014 .


This piece is from an anonymous writer. It is a wonderful reminder of what good listening does and doesn't do. I hope you find it helpful:

"When I ask you to listen to me, and you start to give advice you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen. All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; two cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.

And I can do for myself; I'm not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and weakness.

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,  then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.

And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them. Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes, for people because God is mute and he doesn't give advice or try to fix things. God just listens and let's you work it out for yourself.

So, please. Listen and just hear me. And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn, and I will listen to you."


Posted on February 14, 2014 .


The Transitions Program, which I led this past weekend in Toronto, reminded me of the opportunities that change can bring.

Work, relationships, health. finances and identity are the most common transition points. When we are in more than one transition simultaneously, we are experiencing metamorphosis.

In science, metamorphosis is the transformation from a juvenile to adult stage of development. So to in our own journey. Transition asks us continuouly to step into our best self, to grow up.

Many of us see transition as an affliction. They bring feelings of discomfort and anxiety.  

But the greater opportunity is to welcome transition into our life as a method of transformation.

These difficult, confusing, ambiguous, crazy times are precisely the conditions necessary for wisdom, maturity and creativity to grow.

Paulo Coehlo suggests:

"When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.” 





Posted on February 5, 2014 .

Minister Fantino

The recent meeting between the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julien Fantino, and a group of veterans was government at its worst.

There to protest the closing of nine veterans services offices across the country – to be replaced by the all-purpose Service Canada offices – the veterans group was left waiting for over an hour for their appointment with the Minister. 

Fantino arrived just before the group began a news conference.

There were sharp exchanges between the Minister and the lobbyists. These were shown on the national news. They depicted exasperated veterans shocked at the Minister's disrespect of the meeting, and an imperious Fantino. 

When Paul Davis, a decorated Canadian war veteran, became overly excited and wagged a finger at Fantino, the Minister snapped, "You know," he said, "this finger-pointing stuff doesn't work very well with me."

Fantino went further. "I'm not gonna stand here and listen to that," he said responding to a charge that he had "buswhacked" the meeting.


The veterans were obviously exasperated and furious at the news conference that followed. 

Whether it was a good idea or not to close the veteran's service offices was lost in the behavior of a man who should know better, a man who has led two city, and one provincial, police forces.

Power is no excuse for arrogance. Hopefully, this Minister will be a casualty of the war for the respectful treatment of Canada's veterans.

It's a war the Tories appear to be losing.


Posted on January 30, 2014 .


 “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

                                                                                                                                 –Pete Seeger


Posted on January 28, 2014 .

Leadership of the Self

Most of us are pretty good at setting goals for our work. But are we as experienced in setting goals for our own development?

i am not talking about the New Years Resolution variety. Don't get me wrong.  Quitting smoking or losing five pounds is always good.

I'm talking about the kinds of goals that help us act on what's most meaningful in our lives, develop our gifts, and deepen character.

Those are goals that cannot be set or acted on from the fast lane of life. They require rigorous reflection, the capacity to wrestle with hard questions, the willingness to be uncertain and enjoy it.

Leadership of the Self is one of the less practiced leadership disciplines. We have a tendency to put everyone else first before taking care of our own needs.

Maybe that's a generous trait... 

Maybe it's a clever avoidance strategy... 

Taking time for yourself pays dividends.  As the old Taoist proverb reminds us: “No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.” 



Posted on January 24, 2014 .

The Willingness To "Be In It"

You always know when you're growing. You can feel it in your gut. It's  kind of churning sensation. I call that feeling "being in it."

Many of us hate "being in it" more than anything and will search for ways to reduce the discomfort. Playing it safe, zoning out, or self-medicating are three of the most popular methods.

Then there are the solid few who actually welcome 'being in it."

 I know, crazy.

But those that not only tolerate it, but court the experience, are the learners and the growers.

They are not satisfied with a half-lived life. They are committed to going past their comfort zones into the unknown territory of orginal experience. 

There, they find an inner wilderness. Unpredictable, wild, fully alive. 

That space is sacred ground to this hungry minority.  

Pema Chodrin, the Buddhist teacher says: " life as an experiment, making it up as you go along."  

Especially good advice to those with one life to live.

Let's be in the constant therapeutic irritation of living.

It's good for us.


Posted on January 21, 2014 .

The Wolf and The Pope


 "I exhort you to a generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings." –Pope Francis

I finally saw "The Wolf of Wall Street" on the weekend. While I liked the filmmaking and performances, the film's message was depressing.

Martin Scorcese's black (bleak) comedy depicts the corruption of Wall Street. Sex, drugs and securities fraud are  the dystopian American Dream.  You're either a con or a mark.

A satire?

Not if you lived through the period depicted, the 1990's.  Perhaps too little has changed. The world is still climbing out of the Great Recession,  caused by similar excesses.

Juxtapose that with Pope Francis' recent criticism of the evils of extreme capitalism.

His concerns that the poor are marginalized by a "survival of the fittest" brand of capitalism has riled a lot of people. He has been denounced as a Marxist by Rush Limbaugh, and criticized Paul Ryan, among other conservatives.

Our economy is dependant on the ethics of inclusion for its survival. Do we need to experience another financial collapse to understand this? Or more terrorism? 

The price of the great disparity between rich and poor nations, rich and poor people, is more violence. 

Surely we're smarter and far more creative than that.

We should take the message of Francis to heart. 


Posted on January 16, 2014 .


Travel well, old friend.





Melinda C. 'Mo' Maxfield
Resident of Saratoga
Mo Maxfield left this life on January 9, 2014, after several years of failing health. Born Melinda Cemira Harrison on September 17, 1940, in Waco, Texas, she was a member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority at Texas Tech, graduate of 1962. While a counselor at Camp Longhorn near Austin, she met Bob (Robert Roy) Maxfield; they married in 1964. Before the birth of her daughters, Mo taught high school English and did research for Encyclopedia Britannica, where she first encountered the subject of shamanism. 
Mo's interests turned to spirituality and psychology. She became a competent astrologer. She received a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Menlo Park. Her doctoral dissertation on indigenous drumming practices made a significant contribution to the field of ethno-musicology and has been cited in journals and books. Using EEG tests, her research proved that shamanic drumming puts subjects into a natural altered state of consciousness. Her book and CD, "Drumming the I Ching," is used in hospitals and schools because of the healing impact on ADD, dyslexia, stroke recovery, and other medical issues. 
Mo was known for her extensive work with indigenous peoples, including Native American medicine men, shamans from Mongolia and South America, and Maori elders. She made a significant contribution to the preservation of indigenous wisdoms and their healing modalities. She served as executive director of the Angeles Arrien Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research and on the boards of the Amazon Conservation Team and The Foundation for Shamanic Studies. 
Straight-forward advice to friends and family was a hallmark of Mo's. Many people have expressed gratitude for her help in navigating life's path.
Mo is survived by her ex-husband Bob, her daughter Melinda, son-in-law Dave Hatchett, and her two beloved granddaughters, Mary Jane and Rowan. Her younger daughter Mary Jane succumbed to leukemia in 1986.
Mo will be deeply missed by family, friends, and colleagues. A private memorial service will be held. Memorial contributions may be made to the Mary Jane Maxfield Memorial Fund at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, The Amazon Conservation Team, the Angeles Arrien Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Research, or The Foundation for Shamanic Studies.


Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jan. 19, 2014

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Posted on January 15, 2014 .


I have taken a hiatus from the blog, giving myself some time to recharge my batteries, and refocus. Writing is hard work (at least for me).  A very busy practice, a monthly newsletter and a manuscript have all required time and energy and unfortunately, something had to give.  That was the blog.

I'm back.

With a refreshed web site – thanks to Megan and Devin at Aster Design – the time seems right to begin again. As in past, I will continue to offer tools for personal development and group work and comment on leadership and governance issues. 

I am also going to provide thoughts from time to time on civics, ethics, politics, journalism, faith, business, and even entertainment.

The question I will be asking myself to drive content is: "What are the issues of the day and what implications do they have for us as leaders?"

Generally, the blog will be shorter, bite-sized. Longer pieces will appear from time to time but mostly, longer articles will be reserved for the monthly newsletter.

Hope you will find value.





Posted on January 13, 2014 .

The Six Principles of Purposeful Action

Action is principle based. A principle is an important underlying law and a primary source of how something works. For those engaged in bringing something new into the world, whether it is a new vision, goal or structure recognizing and following such principles can accelerate your progress.

Here are six principles of purposeful action:

1. Start Anywhere

Starting anywhere requires us to initiate action. “We are the children of our deeds,” says an old Spanish saying. It suggests that by starting anywhere we transform ourselves through action. Initiating action, we create a path of heart and meaning rather than expecting one to be provided for us.

2. Take The Next Step

After starting anywhere, we need to take the next step. This affirms the principle that each and every step of the journey of meaning is important and transformational. Goethe provides wise counsel on this matter: “It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.”

3. Use Your Resources

Each of us have a unique combination of gifts, talents, knowdge, skills and experiences. They need to be applied if we hope to progress. Our resources are the one thing we can count on especially when we meet uncertainty. And we will.

4. Seek Guidance

Action requires a pilot or it easily strays off-course. Seek out time for reflection and wise counsel from trusted sources. Alone we see only so much. With others we begin to see what is at first might be invisible to our eyes.

5. Stretch Your Comfort Zone

Creative tension is the force that stretches our capacity for openness, creativity and problem solving. It appears when we begin to explore possibilities, and especially when we attempt to bridge the gap between possibilities and outcomes. View it as a form of “therapeutic irritation” because it forces us to stretch, grow, and change in order to act in new and original ways.

6. Be Open To Outcome

“Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome” is one of the powerful principles expressed in The Four-Fold Way, by Angeles Arrien. It is the best way one can prepare for the unexpected to happen with a certain degree of detachment. Arrien defines detachment as “the capacity to care deeply from an objective place.” Openness allows for elegant solutions to problems that we encounter to occur, solutions that  we may not have considered.

© Patrick O’Neill 2013. All rights reserved.


Posted on October 15, 2013 .

Meeting the Day

For the strong-hearted, today brings a new day of practice. We are not defeated by yesterday. It did its job and pierced us with the future. The present is the moment of power. Let's depart with wonder and awe.

© Patrick O’Neill 2013. All rights reserved.

Posted on August 20, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.

The Short Sighted Wish

The story of King Midas, a classic myth, is a depiction of the drive for wealth and power at the expense of family. This is a modern tragedy with ancient roots. Midas finds the satyr Silenus passed out drunk in his rose garden. Silenus is the beloved tutor of the god Dionysus. In return for taking care of the sodden Silenus, Dionysus grants Midas a wish. Midas wishes that everything he touches should turn to gold.

In haste, and with a growing lust for wealth and power, Midas begins touching things – his roses, tree branches, household objects – and amasses a golden fortune.

Inadvertently, he gets around to the family. With a slight brush of the hand, Midas’ beloved daughter is accidently turned to gold.

There are two endings to this story. In one version, King Midas is unable to feed himself and starves to death due to his shortsighted wish. In another, Dionysus takes pity on the grief-stricken king. Midas is instructed to cleanse himself in the river Pactolus, releasing the golden touch to the waters.

This is a timeless reminder to those of us who believe that the riches of the world hold a solution to all our problems.

The story of Midas is reenacted on a daily basis, whether we pursue success with the single-mindedness of a young executive, or like a titan who fails to recognize the dire consequences of his all-consuming addiction to power.

The god of intoxication – here represented by Dionysus – fills us with a blinding need to satisfy empty places within ourselves by acquiring things.

The satyr is a metaphor for an out-of-control consumer society – drunk, unconscious and driven by base needs.

We disconnect from the natural beauty within us, symbolized here by the rose garden, and lose ourselves in the shortsighted acquisition of golden objects.

We regain our senses only when we discover, in horror, that what we really need has been mortally sacrificed for what we think we need.

At this point we have a choice. We can remain addicted and end up famished for what we have lost, or we can immerse ourselves in the river of the heart, which cleanses and releases us from a wish that has become a curse.

As our culture hurtles towards consuming itself to death, the personal choices we make have an even greater collective impact. To the river!

© Patrick O’Neill 2013. All rights reserved.


Posted on July 17, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.

The Self Critic

The Self Critic is the author of misery. It twists and turns us away from the authentic self and towards the endless confusion of self-diminishment. This clever Minotaur employs two tactics to lure us further from our heart’s guidance and into greater and greater disorientation. The first is to convince us that it is our protector, aligned with only our best and highest interests. We are assured it will lead us through the uncertain and perilous terrain of our lives to a safe haven. “Turn left, turn right,” it coaxes. “It’s not much further… just around this next corner.” The further we go, the more hopelessly lost and utterly dependent we become. The second is to remind us we how vulnerable we are to our deficiencies, failings and mistakes. The Self Critic relentlessly broadcasts the haunted inventory of our faults to an audience of one. These assessments begin with gentle admonitions and grow more malicious with time. Like dispirited hostages, we finally succumb to the depreciatory commentary of the captor. Then, we join the assault. We relieve the Minotaur of the lion’s share of the dirty work by repeating its litany of faults and criticisms at the first opportunity.

By then our relationship to time has been altered as well. Instead of setting a course forward to our preferred future, we have been turned backwards to face a distorted past. In selective memory our mistakes are chronicled for instant replay, the library of our failures resides. We are like Prometheus chained to Mount Kazbek, forced to watch daily as our liver is consumed by an eagle, then promptly regenerating for the next feeding. In a state of learned helplessness, and in bad company, we are driven further and further off course until we have lost our way, and our best self.

The price associated with the Minotaur’s control of our consciousness is steep. Our dreams shrink and erode. We are constantly on our own case; nothing is ever good enough and an unhealthy addiction to perfection takes root. We hide from leadership rather than embrace it. We second guess our decisions, and mistrust our instincts, knowledge and skill. As well, we mistrust the honest intentions and support of others. Even small mistakes – our own or those of others – become catastrophes. We find little or no satisfaction in a job well done. Overly critical, we are both harsh judge and jury. Ultimately, our lives drift, devoid of purpose, meaning, or passion. Like the eagle feasting on Prometheus, the Self Critic conquers the tribute by consuming his or her attributes daily.

© Patrick O’Neill 2013. All rights reserved.

Posted on June 28, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.


The Globe & Mail reported today that the World Bank has targeted the year 2030 to end poverty. World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim made the announcement at a Washington news conference by holding up a piece of paper with the date scrawled across it.

The world's finance ministers and central bankers have all apparently signed off on extreme poverty's end, 17 years from now. Extreme poverty, according to the Globe's report, is "subsistence on less than $1.25 (U.S.) a day."

Dr. Kim is quoted as saying that the World Bank has "huge aspirations for the poor." That may be true, but the reality is that such poverty could end immediately.  There is enough money globally to end poverty today.  That to me is a "huge aspiration."

I guess it will take our "ambitious" central bankers and finance ministers  till 2030 to cough up the cash that is currently going into arms – $1.7 trillion a year.

(Quick: what's 17 times $1.7 trillion? Anyone...)

Obviously, we will require more and more guns to protect us from those in extreme poverty.

Some days it feels like our world is taking far too long to grow up.

© Patrick O’Neill 2013. All rights reserved.

Posted on June 11, 2013 and filed under Uncategorized.