Wednesday, 5 August 2009

On The 'Ead, Son!

What do brilliant footballers have in common with star investment bankers? I will leave you to decide.

However, in the opinion of John Varley, CEO of Barclays, that is how we should regard investment bankers. No, forget permed hair and screaming girlies when touched by the opposition, what he means is that if we want serious profits then you have to pay obscene bonuses in order to retain the best. His erstwhile and also stupid colleague at Barclays Capital, Stuart Gulliver, likens these faceless superstars to Hollywood filmstars. Again, I have the image of limos, lapdogs and throwing phones - maybe I am not far wrong.

It really shows how far from reality banking really is. Are we to be believe our long-term tax bill is actually like the entrance fee at a football ground to watch these banking stars perform? Is it the same as dedicated followers buying their season tickets? Or are long-term tax bills to pay off the cost of bailing out bankers simply what they are - us paying for their appalling mistakes?

It is the reason why the banking system should be over-hauled and many executives should be removed from their posts because they have no idea of the responsibility they have. It is like the whole gravy train of investment banking is there purely for some sort of entertainment of a small number of clever, greedy people who invented it and that we, the taxpayer, underwrite the whole thing. And it is ever more chilling that the very people Brown and Darling are paying to advise them of how to solve the banking crisis are investment bankers - it's like paying the Taliban to buy more guns to shoot at us to kill more soldiers.

Even incredibly failed banks that we now majority own like RBS will pay their stars bonuses this year. The bonus pool is growing as the whole show is back on the road in earnest and profits are back in the bag. The very same sorts of profits which were made before - the unreal kind which are conjured up out of nothing in the elaborate world of inter-banking musical chairs known as trading.

I have said it before and will say it again, these bankers have too higher opinion of themselves and what they do. They are out of touch with reality, have no contrition or remorse for the untold financial damage they have caused and they think they have carte blanche to live in a false world where we should pay them homage to their 'skills' rather than hold them accountable for the losses and hardships they cause.

In each case, they do not give two figs for the masses of low level staff they have fired because of the mistakes of a few greedy people and not one of them looks at the mess in the toxic debt situation or economy and feels any kind of connection.

Well, they can have their vast bonuses if they like as long as they pay back what they owe us. Not like football or Hollywood, is it, boys? No, that's make believe entertainment, this is reality. You owe us and we believe you should not a get a penny more until you have paid your dues. Try that for size.

The principle of what they do, we are told, underpins our economy - we would have no credit if this did not occur. Indeed, all the banks missed their lending targets and so they need to make more money to get the whole credit engine working again, so the argument is that we should allow them more latitude in bonuses to 'stimulate' the economy.

But am I the only one who sees the flaw in the plan? We have ring fenced £584bn of 'Toxic Debt' that we, the taxpayer not the banks, are personally liable for. We have paid out some £100bn in capital, more in loans and guarantees - we are in for a potential £1.3 trillion in total and we sit here sucking it all in and believing this is a good thing and that our economy depends on this. We must be stupid.

The reality is that the banking system is flawed and that it has a fundamental, in-built weakness of logic that people assume can be ignored because the likelihood of a 'perfect storm' occurring to cause a credit crunch to cause £billions in losses could not occur.

Well, like a black swan, it did. It can happen again and surely I am not the only schmuck who sees it?

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