This column from Ros Wynne Jones in the Daily Mirror deserves linking to and repeating. It is that damn good. It is about the response in the UK to the global financial crisis and details how they missed a chance to put through proper reform of the banking system.
Her level of contempt clearly maxed out when she wrote this. I can imagine her fingers pounding angrily and quickly on the keyboards of her laptop as she sought to capture the intense feelings the subject of her article generated.
She said this:
Ten years after the banking crisis and these people show no remorse – the Lehman’s cocktail party-goers, the Bob Diamonds and the Fred the Shreds.
Today, Diamond – the former Barclays boss and banking’s chief buccaneer until the banks blew up like a game of Buckaroo – marked the anniversary by feeling sorry for himself.
“The culture of banking now,” sighed the man forced to resign at the height of the Libor-rigging scandal in 2012, “is that if anyone makes a mistake they get fined.”
The collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, unleashed the worst global downturn since the Great Depression. But apparently banks have done enough penance.
Diamond says it’s time to let “banks be banks” again.
Can you imagine the level of venom dripping from her as she typed and processed that thought?
She then said:
His words should still stick in the throat of almost every single person in the country – 99.9% of us – who have lost out because of bankers being bankers.
Then came the kicker. The reality of what has changed since the GFC for the banks and for the rest of us.
This week, the campaign 10 Years On introduced website whatamiowed.org, which tells you exactly how much you personally lost in the financial crisis.
The campaign points out that since 2010, the Government has slashed almost £50billion from public services – and over £30bn more from social welfare.
It adds: “By comparison, the Big Four UK banks have paid out over £50bn in bonuses.”
The website whatamiowed.org has a very basic back engine that attempts to estimate what UK citizens have lost because of the need to bail out the banking system. The backers of the site, 10 years on, are “working with a network of organisations to Change Finance: demanding a sustainable financial system where the banking sector first and foremost serves the best interests of people and the planet.”
It makes you wonder what the result would be in Aotearoa New Zealand if a similar calculation was made. Our results were different, a number of third tier lenders went broke and took out millions of dollars from mainly retirees’ asset bases. There was however the South Canterbury Finance payout where for reasons I still do not understand SCF was kept in the Bank Guarantee scheme, played fast and loose with loans and then was bailed out by the Government having to reward some pretty dodgy behaviour.
And there was the sell off of the power companies shares. Last time I checked we had lost nearly as much as we had gained and the income was not coming our way any time soon. Presumably by now we are in the red.
Fundamental reform of the world’s banking system is overdue. But it seems clear that we have missed out on the chance to do so.