Responsibilities, Ethics and the Financial Crisis

money-imageAwarded £0.7 million by the AHRC.

The project team includes Tom Sorell (Principal Investigator), Andrew Mullineux and Karen Rowlingson (Co-Investigators) and Lindsey Appleyard.

The project will explore the impact of the global financial crisis on the way that the risks of consumer lending, including mortgage lending, were spread - notably through a market in securitized debt; overconfidence in the strength of house prices; and conflicts of interest among institutional lenders and those responsible for analysing credit risks. The financial crisis is particularly important in the UK, where financial services constitute one of the largest economic sectors and one of the biggest sources of tax revenue.

This project seeks to enlarge the public understanding of the crisis and the understanding among officials, regulatory and consumer bodies of the ethical issues raised by the crisis, specifically, how responsibilities for what has gone wrong create obligations to some of those badly affected by the crisis.

The project addresses the question of which institutions are responsible; and the question of whether individuals, including ordinary consumers and sub-prime borrowers, are also partly to blame. Starting from some of the specialist literature on the causes of the crisis, including the financial management literature, it considers which institutions have the primary responsibilities. The project will contribute with regulatory and taxation proposals from its finance experts. But it will also consider bank irresponsibility from the point of view of the defining purposes of banks and from the standpoint of the philosophical business ethics and the theory of corporate social responsibility. It will also investigate the ethical aspects of different forms of lending to people on low incomes.


Read the paper 'The variegated financialization of sub-prime credit markets' by Lindsey Appleyard, Jodi Gardner and Karen Rowlingson, 2016 

How can we increase responsible lending and borrowing? Tuesday 28 April 2015, Wellcome Collection, London (PDF)

'Introducing a time delay on access to credit. Is it just delaying the inevitable?, by Lindsey Appleyard, Jodi Gardner and Karen Rowlingson, January 2015 (PDF)

Response to FCA Consultation on Payday Lending Cap (PDF)

Read the paper 'Capping the cost of payday lending in the UK: What will the impact be? Paper for the Financial Conduct Authority, July 2014, by Karen Rowlingson, Lindsey Appleyard and Jodi Gardner, CHASM (PDF)

Read the paper 'The Challenges of Regulating high-cost, short-term Credit: A comparison of UK and Australian Approaches' by Jodi Gardner, Research Fellow, March 2014 (PDF)


The AHRC sponsored project now has a project website.

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Further information

Tom Sorell 
Professor of Politics and Philosophy 
University of Warwick

Date: 2012-2015
Sponsored by: Arts and Humanities Research Council