In modern society, where most people live in cities, and where both needs and wishes are absolved through the same remote agency - money - the distinction between wishes and needs has altogether vanished.
Other quotes by James Buchan
Cause and effect, the riddle of all history, is a particular devil in financial history; and never more so than today, where entire classes of security are collapsing not on public exchanges and stock-tickers but because there are no markets to establish prices this side of nothing.
The west has a great deal to answer for in the Middle East, from Britain's belated empire-building after the First World War to the US and British policy that condemns modern Iraq to the material and social squalor of a half-century ago.
There are signs that the age of petroleum has passed its zenith. Adjusted for inflation, a barrel of crude oil now sells for three times its long-run average. The large western oil companies, which cartellised the industry for much of the 20th century, are now selling more oil than they find, and are thus in the throes of liquidation.
The use of refined petroleum as fuel, which began in the 1850s, freed hundreds of millions of people from the toil of centuries, gave hundreds of millions more a life of ease and plenty, and, by allowing great cities to feed themselves from every corner of the world, multiplied the population of the earth fivefold.