Friday High Five – in the news this week

Maybe it’s the sunshine, but things seem to be picking up. Well, my mood certainly is.

I’ve been doing a lot more reading this year and have been devouring books by deeply impressive journalists who tell complex and compelling stories about how the world really works. 

Three stand outs recently have been Duncan Mavin on Greensill Capital, Chris Blackhurst on HSBC’s banking of the Mexican drug cartels and Nicola Tallant’s jaw dropping tale of how a Dublin organised crime group came to briefly dominate the world of boxing.

In Manchester this week I also got to meet Tom Burgis, author of Kleptopia and Cuckooland, who was ‘in conversation’ with economist Grace Blakeley at Waterstones as she promoted her book, also with an avian theme, Vulture Capitalism.

Immersed as they are in corruption, exploitation and bad actors, it’s tempting to think that business is part of a rigged system that perpetuates so many of society’s ills.

Yet that day I’d interviewed the head of a private equity firm in the morning, hosted a lunch with a property developer, and written a piece about mergers and acquisitions in the professional services sector for our new Rainmakers platform.

Leading that day’s newsletter was an excellent story by my colleague Neil Hodgson pulling out the true picture from the financial results of fast fashion phenomena Boohoo. They are making further losses and, as we reported, their brand has undoubtedly taken a hit over the disposable nature of their products, seemingly at odds with a commitment to green issues, particularly important to its core demographic of teenagers and young adults.

I suspect Grace Blakeley and Tom Burgis feel that the capitalism they write about is irredeemable. She signed her book to us: “Another World Is Possible, Solidarity.” 

You see, I only agree with that sentiment to a point. 

Everyone I meet in this job, with some dishonourable exceptions, are well-intentioned good people, working hard to do the right thing. The conversations I had this week, about ‘social value’ and ‘environmental impact’, are honest statements of values, and are resolutely not an attempt to greenwash or gloss over anything dodgy.

So maybe my early summer glow is because I genuinely think business can be, and often is, a real force for good. This is because despite all the attempts of powerful dark forces, we operate under a rule of law, and still have journalists, campaigners and yes, some politicians, who never give in fighting for a better tomorrow.