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Back to basic values

By K.C. Boey - posted Friday, 14 November 2008

"That’s a big call," anchorman interrupts a panellist in an on-air discussion on what caused the global financial crisis.

Private wealth adviser Thomas Murphy, in the company of two of his peers on national TV, had accused investment bankers of having perpetrated a massive fraud on the American people.

Murphy, barely breaking stride, goes on: "I would argue that the problem is as much social as economic, because what we are seeing now is a class struggle between the haves and the have-nots, and it's the kind of struggle we've not seen in America previously."


Huh? Class struggle? In a panel discussion on Inside Business on ABC TV?

We heard right, Murphy assured me when I caught up with him. And it wasn't the inspiration of the moment that led Murphy to that conclusion.

The expatriate American had come to that view for at least the past five years, having identified a trend going back to the 1980s bubble economy of California, which Murphy holds as America in microcosm.

The American dream, as with that of Australians, as Murphy tells Inside Business, is to own a family home.

What's happening is that people have been "cheated by the system in the sense that they've been led to believe they can afford mortgages (that) they cannot", says Murphy.

People, "many of colour ... whose parents did not have the ability to achieve the dream of owning a home".


Murphy is no loony social activist in business suit. In the 26 years he has been in Australia, he has made a mark in fund management.

A decade ago as head of asset allocation in Australia's biggest bank, the Commonwealth Bank, he once managed A$16 billion in investment funds.

More recently at Deutsche Bank, Murphy managed A$1.4 billion before he left in June to set up his own wealth advisory consultancy.

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First published in The New Straits Times on November 9, 2008.

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About the Author

K.C. Boey is a former editor of Malaysian Business and The Malay Mail. He now writes for The Malaysian Insider out of Melbourne.

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