Paul is a co-founder and director of Ricardo Research.

Paul’s career has spanned the private sector, academia and policy-orientated institutions. Starting working life in stockbroking, latterly as a partner in his firm, he then went on to study Economics at the University of York (UK) receiving a BA and D Phil. He was Esmée Fairbairn Lecturer in Finance at York 1970-76, also serving as Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Committee on the EEC 1975-76. He was at the International Monetary Fund in 1976-83, initially as an Economist and later as an Advisor and then head of the division responsible for the Fund’s borrowing and investment activities.

Returning to the UK, Paul served four years on the board of merchant bank, Baring Brothers. In 1987 he co-founded and was Managing Director of GMO Woolley, the London affiliate of GMO, serving on the GMO board (1998-2003).

Paul returned to academic life in 2007, funding the Paul Woolley Centre for the Study of Capital Market Dysfunctionality at the LSE. He is a Senior Fellow at the LSE and a member of the Centre’s research team. He has co-authored a number of academic papers and books, and writes occasional policy op-eds.

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Fiduciary duty in dysfunctional markets

Financial markets play a central role in the capitalist economy, allocating new savings to productive investment, acting as a signalling device to corporate management, and providing liquidity to investors. The efficient markets paradigm claims that competition among investors keeps asset prices close to fair value. A new interpretation contends that stock markets have morphed into a contest between two sets of investors: those seeking short-term gain matched against those targeting long-term value. This unending battle corrupts prices, creates macroeconomic instability and costs vast sums in asset management fees.

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Giant funds must curb short-termism

Many of the problems of present-day finance have their origins in the horizons set along the investment chain. The key players in this chain are the giant pension, sovereign wealth and endowment funds who appoint external asset managers, who in turn invest in companies. If these funds invest with their eyes set partially or largely on the short term, it sends a clear message down the line and embeds similar standards throughout the capitalist system.

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