Jean-Paul Betbèze

The Ten Commandments of Finance Publication date : September 1, 2003

Contemporary finance is driven by a quest for a high rate of profitability. According to Jean-Paul Betbèze, this quest is ruled by ten commandments, ranging from "Thou shalt always seek a 15% return on Equity" to "Thou shalt not allow the whole system to explode". He examines how this has upset the old form of capitalism, and empowered financial consultants, analysts and fund managers. He explores the vision of commerce, industry and finance determined by this quest, as well as the logic underlying economic forecasting, management and auditing. What has been the psychological impact on the markets, on macroeconomic integration and on national and international equilibrium? What lessons should be drawn from the growth and subsequent explosion of the bubble of the "new economy"? Betbèze takes a look at the current economic landscape — the stagnation of economic growth, the growing number of financial scandals of which Enron is but an example, and the sharpening of the debate around pensions and shareholding by employees — and asks where we are headed. In a lively, rigorous, clear style, which is often playful and mordant, the author recounts the unprecedented changes that are now taking place and that will determine our future.

Jean-Paul Betbèze teaches at the University of Paris Panthéon-Assas. He is a director of economic and financial studies for the Crédit Lyonnais. He is a regular contributor to several publications including Le Monde de l’Economie.