Matt Ridley – failed banker and rightwing neolibertarian propagandist.

“Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley, FRSL, FMedSci, DL, known commonly as Matt Ridley, is a British scientist, journalist, and popular author and a member of the House of Lords.”  Sounds impressive doesn’t it? Now read on:

Hereditary Viscount, Mathew Ridley (The Rational Optimist) is promoted as “a renowned science writer, journalist, biologist, and businessman”. But what is carefully whitewashed out of his biography is the information that Matthew Ridley is a “failed banker”. Ridley was chairman* of the Northern Rock Bank (2004-2007) where his ill-considered investments in sub-prime mortgages led to the bank’s collapse and nationalization.  When it collapsed it suffered the first run on a British bank in 150 years and contributed to the near melt down of the financial system of the western world. The result was that this neolibertarian propagandist who believes in small government and low taxes had to go to the government and tax payer for a £27 billion bailout.

(* Note: his father had been chairman of Northern Rock before him so I guess Matt Ridley’s  Chairmanship at the bank  was another hereditary position – there is certainly no record of him getting the position through merit)

Although Ridley has a science degree he has never, to my knowledge, been a working scientist and has no expertise in Climate science and yet writes as if he is an authority on this subject.

Matt Ridley ruined Northern Rock.  Fred Goodwin ruined the Royal Bank of Scotland.  Fred Goodwin’s career is in tatters, he seems to have gone to ground and no one is asking his advice on anything and yet Matt Ridley seems to have no trouble getting his articles published, why?  Perhaps it is not the veracity of what he has to say but simply what he says that suits those right wing organisations that seem so keen to publish his work.

Before taking Ridley seriously, consider all those investors and employees of Northern Rock who have, and in many cases still are, suffering real financial hardship because of his incompetence, hubris and failed neolibertarian ideology.

Would you trust someone who, after a lifetime of privilege and entitlement, had caused the first run on a British Bank in over 150 years and then went to the tax payer for a £27 billion bailout?

UPDATE: (6th Feb 2013) Hereditary Viscount,  Matt Ridley, failed banker, ex Chair of failed Northern Rock, has been elected as hereditary Peer to the House of Lords by 24 hereditary peers.   21st Century?? Reward for failure?? Old boys club?? Member of the 1%.  Democracy???

UPDATE: (20th Nov 2013) The list of failed bankers who had managed to get top jobs in banking despite having no relevant prior experience gets longer by the week.   Here are the ones I know about: Andy Hornby (HBOS), Matt Ridley (Northern Rock), Fred Goodwin (RBS) and now Rev Paul Flowers (COOP BANK) all  managed to crash their bank – brilliant.  I dare say there are more – we probably only have to wait a week or two find out.


 UPDATE (18th Oct 2013): Matt Ridley has published yet another of his irrationally optimistic articles “Why climate change is good for the world” This has, as usual, been taken up enthusiastically by the right wing press so here is a useful rebuttal:
“Lord Ridley’s flawed article in ‘The Spectator'” ( Bob Ward, London School of Economics, Grantham Institute, Oct 2013):

See also:

“What Matt Ridley won’t tell you about climate change impacts” (17 October 2013 by Chris Hope)

“No, climate change will not be good for the world” (Duncan Geere New Statesman 17 OCTOBER 2013):

UPDate (March 2014):  “Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm” in the Wall Street Journal is the latest disinformation from Matt Ridley.  Here is a response:  Matt Ridley op-ed is a laundry list of IPCC misrepresentations.


See the links below for more information on this so called ‘expert’:

Matt Ridley – Wired for Lukewarm Catastrophe (Skeptical Science 29 Aug 2012)

The Ridley Riddle Part One: The Red Queen (Skeptical Science 30 July 2011)

The Ridley Riddle Part Two: The White Queen (Skeptical Science 7 Aug 2011)

The Ridley Riddle Part Three: Like a Northern Rock (Skeptical Science 12 Aug 2011)

The Right’s Whitewashing Of History (Liam McLaughlin, Huffington Post, 10/09/2012)

Matt Ridley – The Man Who Wants to Northern Rock the Planet (George Monbiot June 1 2010)

Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist is telling the rich what they want to hear – The ex-Northern Rock man is in denial about his book’s mistakes (George Monbiot, Guardian 18th June 2010)

If the Northern Rock fiasco was a morality tale, it was more about hubris than greed (Giles Fraser, The Guardian, Friday 14 September 2012)

“Cherry-picked reality: How fantasy is maintained by false scepticism” A critique of Matt Ridley’s “Rational Optimist” (warning – a lengthy article but worth reading if you have time) … (New Scientist 10th June 2010)

 UPDATE 24th July 2014: New article by George Monbiot illustrating once again the bankruptcy of the neo-liberal agenda:

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11 thoughts on “Matt Ridley – failed banker and rightwing neolibertarian propagandist.”

  1. All those investors of Northern Rock would include you and me. I pay my taxes, which were spent on NR. I own Northern Rock now. So do you.

  2. Welcome Hengist, thanks for passing by – visitors always welcome – its quiet here! Your comment seems to be just a statement of fact so difficult to respond apart from agreeing except to remind ourselves that the retail part of NR has been sold to Virgin Money.

  3. A correction.
    Libertarians/Austrian Economists were cautioning people about the coming collapse of housing/mortgage crisis for several years before the house of cards came tumbling down.
    So to classify support for the mortgage crisis as neo-libertarian is a non-starter.
    For the root of the problem, at least in the US, you might like read The House4 That Uncle Sam Built here…

    1. Hi Rick, The link you have given is for a book written after the crisis. It would be interesting to have a link to a “Libertarian/Austrian Economist” who cautioned about the coming banking collapse before it happened.

      I also note that libertarian, Matt Ridley, (whose business model depended on a never ending house price boom) failed to warn us of what was to happen.

      1. Many people missed it.
        In the video link provided below, I am shocked at those that didn’t see it coming. In fact they ridiculed Schiff.

    1. And Matt Ridley? Did he predict the bubble?

      This is silly because we can both go back and find people who predicted the bubble would burst – even I predicted the bubble would burst. For every ‘Austrian’ I will be able to find you a Keynesian. Why? Because it was obvious that house prices could not go on rising as they were up to 2007. Particularly when the bubble was fuelled by sub prime mortgages in the US and UK. The bubble was bound to burst as they always do – the only tricky bit was predicting when.

      All this emphasises that Matt Ridley’s business model for Northern Rock was entirely delusional

  4. So provide the list of Keynesian’s that predicted it.
    I only complied with your request.
    How do I find more about you? There is no “About Us” link on your site.

  5. Too bad they wouldn’t listen.
    But it’s easier to continue to blame the rich rather than bad government policy.
    How do I find more about you? There is no “About Us” link on your site.

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