Magazine article The Spectator

Deaf to Advice and to Warning, the Sleepwalkers Are Left to Cling to the Wreckage

Magazine article The Spectator

Deaf to Advice and to Warning, the Sleepwalkers Are Left to Cling to the Wreckage

Article excerpt

How is it to be supposed that men will take advice, Jonathan Swift wanted to know, when they will not so much as take warning? He might have asked the directors of the Equitable Life, but the question would not have registered. They went sleepwalking to disaster, secure in the belief that they were doing the right thing. Nothing would budge them. In the end they put their society up for sale but found no takers, at any price. Now they have been forced to close the books to new business and penalise those who want to take their money out. As an exercise in destroying value, this is hard to beat. Not so long ago, the Equitable could have asked its own price. It was the supplier of choice to the top of the market. This held its costs down, which made its results good, which meant that the business kept coming. …

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