On Tuesday 17 February 2009, The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI) brought together a diverse panel of experts to discuss the ramifications of the economic crisis for domestic and international security. The four panelists* led a tour d’horizon, exploring the potential impact of the recession on the UK, Europe and beyond. The forum identified the following guiding questions for future research:
• How can the gap between Whitehall and the City be bridged? What would Whitehall need to understand the system better?
Warnings about the level of risk in the system failed to translate into government action. Mechanisms have to be found to close the policy vacuum that exists between ever more complex financial operations and overstretched regulators.
• How can defence and security spending be balanced against other priorities?
Public purse strings will have to tighten, but can we afford to cut back? Responsible and cost-effective spending on defence needs to be sustained and legitimised at a time when the electorate has other compelling concerns.
• How can we monitor the power shifts that will take place in the fluid and uncertain context of a recession?
Certain countries seem set to emerge stronger from the recession, others may be irrevocably weakened. Work needs to be done to establish who the winners are likely to be, who may lose out, and how the international system will look after the dust has settled.
• What will the impact of the crisis be on security and stability in Europe and elsewhere?
Public disorder and political extremism seem likely to go on the increase, especially in Central and Eastern Europe but possibly closer to home. Concerns about domestic stability need to be factored into security policy and spending priorities.
This was the first of three exploratory meetings organised by RUSI and CSFI which together will provide the basis for a joint initiative to study and respond to the political and security dimensions of the financial crisis. The crisis brings to the fore a set of interlocking concerns reaching deep into many areas of policy and regulation. Its implications for security are vast and complex, demanding the kind of multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging expertise that the RUSI/CSFI partnership is uniquely well-placed to offer.
*Panelists included Bronwen Maddox of The Times, Sir Adam Ridely, chairman of Equitas Trust, former Director-General of the London Investment Banking Association, John Plender of the Financial Times and Sir David Omand, former UK Security & Intelligence Coordinator.
For background analysis and further information about this research initiative, visit: