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Dutch government advisor calls financial sector ’parasitic’

Former Rabobank topman displeased

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

UTRECHT - The financial industry has been a “destabilizing and parasitic” factor in the economy over the past number of decades. The industry should drop its short-term thinking and put itself in the service of society.

Dutch economist and influential banker Herman Wijffels put stakeholders on notice that if the current economic crisis is to be overcome, attitudes and expectations will have to become realistic.

As president of the newly created Utrecht Sustainability Institute's Sustainable Finance Lab, to be launched later this month, the Zeeland-born farmer’s son plans to begin a series of debates with the financial industry and other stakeholders. The focus will be on the question whether or not new legislation or other forms of supervision are required to increase the value of the financial sector to society.

Wijffels, 69, has a mixed public and private career, starting off at the Ministry of Agriculture, served as secretary to a Christian employers group, completed an eighteen-year career at Rabobank as its chairman, headed the Economic and Social Council of the Netherlands (SER) for one term and served as the Dutch representative at the World Bank. He also was the architect of the Christian Democrat/Labour/Christian Union coalition cabinet headed by Jan Peter Balkenende.