Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boris' attack on the bankers—now that beggars belief

Can anyone figure out Boris Johnson for me? As recently as two weeks ago, the Mayor of London jumped to the City's defense, calling bankers a "vital part" of the UK's economic recovery. No argument there. We are financially healthy when the bankers and stockbrokers do a robust job.
"[N]ever forget, all you would-be banker bashers, that the leper colony in the City of London produces 9% of UK GDP, 13% of value added and taxes that pay for roads and schools and hospitals across this country," Johnson told the audience at the Conservative Party conference on October 5.
Around this time last year, during the thick of the recession, Boris asked Londoners to stop their "neo-socialist whingeing about City bankers." Sounding the same line as with the Tory conference, Johnson beseeched, "Before you attack the bankers of London, remember that this is one of the few global industries in which we truly excel; the City contributes about nine per cent of Britain's GDP."
So what to make of his recent column, "The Barefaced Greed of Bankers and Their Bonuses Beggars Belief," one must wonder?
This is one scurrilous attack on City culture from the man who took such pains and risked such unpopularity to defend it. Referring to bankers as "a type of cockroach," Johnson opines that, "their interests, and the interests of the community, have been intertwined by the fact of state intervention, and they need to show they understand that."
This is very true as well. Bankers showed off, gambled with leverage they didn't have, and played Russian roulette with the money, not caring if they lost the gamble as the taxpayer would bail them out. And yet they have shown that they've learned nothing and are happy to accept their lavish bonus packages for failing.
In my opinion, bankers need to show humility and forego the huge bonuses for at least a year and demonstrate that they're rediscovering the A-game necessary to help bring us out of recession. Instead, they are treating themselves with our money—and even the banks that didn't fail and remain in private hands are still playing fast and loose with the profits.
I praise Johnson's latest column, but hope that he's truly seen the light as opposed to simply jumping on the bandwagon.


East of Eden said...

Greed is always bad for the free market, it's what will kill it. However the best remedy for greed is failure, which is what we are not letting happen 'round the world.

Nightdragon said...

Great observation, Eden. I can't stand these people who seem to think that capitalism is about greed. No, capitalism allows for greed, but when it's practiced by businesses, it's called monopolization, and when it's practiced by banks, it's called recession and economic meltdown. Capitalism is the best economic system, but you have to be respectful and play by the rules to ensure that everyone's best interests are being met. Only then does captialism work. Of course, human beings being what they are, this is why capitalism will always suffer the barbed arrows of the scruffy anarchsists and commies.