The Big Four and the revolving door

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Finance should be a servant, but never a master. So when accountants and auditors become the story because of systemic failures and corporate malfeasance you know something has gone badly wrong. As big accountancy firms are increasingly embroiled in corporate scandals, how do we clearly define their role so they actually serve society instead of continually maximising profit for private and personal gain?

Big bad Vlad: the demonisation of Russia

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The barrage of scaremongering by the British press before the football World Cup, painted the hosts Russia as a tyrannical country unsafe for tourists and football fans alike. But the reality has been very different. Visitors have taken to social media to explain that they’ve found Russia and her people hospitable and friendly. This wasn’t what they were told to expect. So was this media onslaught just a mistake? Or was this the latest instalment of post Cold War rhetoric designed to malign Russia? With relations between the West and Russia at an all time low, where next for this relationship? Joining us to discuss why both sides are locked in this frozen conflict is the writer and broadcaster, John White.

The Grandparents of Brexit

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It is by far the most emotive and divisive issue of a generation: Brexit has split families, ended relationships, derailed political careers and divided a country. But was the outcome of the EU referendum on the 23rd of June 2016 a rash, knee jerk decision, or had anti-EU feeling been building for many years? If Brexit was a long time in the making, we ask: Who were the real grandparents of Brexit?

Thrown under the bus

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Renationalising Britain’s rail system is a daily debate. As many commuters feel the full force of ineffective, privatised rail companies, they’re vocal about their plight. But surprisingly, there are far more British bus users than rail commuters. And they have been neglected. A privatised bus system has meant that many are left stranded. So, we ask: Why have so many people in the UK been thrown under the bus?

The not-so-free press

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George Orwell famously said journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations. In a world festooned with PR exercises and reputation management, was Mr Orwell overly cynical, or was he well ahead of his time? With print media’s business model in free fall, newspaper proprietors are increasingly desperate to find ways to ensure financial viability. The problem with this approach is that corporate interests can and often do trump the interests of readers. Joining us to discuss how free the UK press really is are the lecturer in journalism and media studies at Birkbeck College, Justin Schlosberg, and the editor of Open Media at openDemocracy, James Cusick.

Empire of things

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When we talk about consumerism, the emotive arguments for and against are always black and white. Consumerism is painted as unnecessary and low or no growth is seen as the optimum state for people and planet. But what if acquiring objects and possessions is intrinsic to human nature? What if, in reality, the consumerism argument is far more nuanced, which should make us rethink how we spend, what we buy and which things are most important to us. Joining us to work out where next for consumer spending and give historical context to the rampant consumerism we seem to love is the author of ‘The Empire of Things’, Professor Frank Trentmann.

Looting Libya

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One of the biggest Western foreign policy adventures in recent years is something that is underreported in the media. So-called ‘intervention’ in Libya has created a failed state that is riven with extremists all vying for power. So we ask: was this really an epic foreign policy mistake? Or was destroying Libya just another day at the office for politicians, shortsighted bureaucrats, and vulture corporates who continually try to enforce global economic supremacy.

The global economy: What lies beneath

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Ten years after the great financial crisis, markets are again booming, but as are levels of debt and leverage. Is this a cause for concern or have policymakers fixed the fundamentals? Has complacency lead investors to take on greater risks or have they learnt the lessons of 2008? Is Brexit a blip as the Eurozone is actually in rude health? Or are the fault lines increasingly clear but papered over? As volatility returns to markets. We ask: what lies beneath the global economy? Joining us to work out what is really going on in the markets and the wider global economy, is investor, hedge fund manager and author of Planet Ponzi, Mitch Feierstein.