Some time later she found herself in the City of London reporting on the state of credit markets. Once she attended a banking conference in Nice, where, in her own words, she experienced a strong sense of déjà vu. The bankers were meeting and greeting each other, conversing in a jargon apparent only to their inner circle and engaging in a number of rituals, usually taking place at the bar. For Gillian, the language and the symbolism were as peculiar as those she first encountered in a remote Tajik village.
In Tajikistan, the locals followed Muslim traditions, living in their own cultural bubble within the atheist Soviet state. In the circles of Wall Street or the City of London, “the bankers were coming together to reinforce their social networks and, above all else, to reinforce a common mindset”, said Gillian Tett. It’s as if they did not expect anyone else to understand financial craft, let alone to be scrutinised by outsiders. And when the lending systems started spinning out of control, the insiders kept reassuring each other, behaving like an isolated tribe rather than a cog inside the global economy.
Gillian Tett explained that tribal culture is endemic to humans, but it may result in “social silences” about certain issues, which ought not to be hidden but addressed.
What other “tribes” can you think of that would perhaps benefit from greater transparency?