The public is partly to blame for the financial crisis by indulging in a "wild consumer frenzy" and running up unaffordable credit card bills, Jeremy Irons said yesterday.
“We enjoyed living on interest-free credit on our cards - just 'please borrow more money'. We allowed ourselves to get into a consumer frenzy, this belief that buying makes us happier, which we are told our economy demands” the actor said.
“We don't need all this stuff, whether it be new motorcars, more clothes, we really don't.
“Now we hear politicians say, 'If only we get people buying again we'll be alright'. What?! Buying is what got us into this state.”
He added: “I believe we have to find a way to run our economy so that it is balanced, it is level, and spread out the money and stop this wild consumer frenzy. I think it’s a huge revolution we are going through.”
He said perpetual growth rates of two per cent a year are “not physically possible” in a world of finite resources.
The actor plays the chief executive of a dangerously over-leveraged bank in his latest film, Margin Call.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr he read Michael Lewis’ The Big Short, a history of the financial crisis, in preparation for the role.
“I think I came away feeling angry. I just felt we had let it run away in the most irresponsible way,” he said.
He added the size of bankers’ bonuses amounted to “just bad manners”.
“They were a slap in the face for a lot of people. Social unrest is a real problem when the economy is in the state it’s in. It doesn’t help reading these figures. It really doesn’t.”