19 June 2009

Imagery worthy of Obama in speech by the Governor of the Bank of England

I’ve thought for some time that Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, has some pretty good speechwriters, and this isn’t the first time I’ve thought it worth posting an example from one of his speeches.

The night before last at the Mansion House, he used and developed a neat simile, that was singled out and used as a headline in the print and broadcast media:


"To achieve financial stability the powers of the Bank are limited to those of voice and the new resolution powers.

"The Bank finds itself in a position rather like that of a church whose congregation attends weddings and burials but ignores the sermons in between.

"Like the church, we cannot promise that bad things won’t happen to our flock – the prevention of all financial crises is in neither our nor anyone else’s power, as a study of history or human nature would reveal.

"And experience suggests that attempts to encourage a better life through the power of voice alone is not enough.

"Warnings are unlikely to be effective when people are being asked to change behaviour which seems to them highly profitable.

"So it is not entirely clear how the Bank will be able to discharge its new statutory responsibility if we can do no more than issue sermons or organise burials."

You can watch this part of the speech HERE - and was there a slight smirk on his face as he finished the punch line about 'sermons' and 'burials'?

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