Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The bank always wins.

HALLELUJAH and hooray! Hip hip and huzzah! People got very angry about a bank that had done very wrong and now the man in charge is very gone!

Time to strip naked and dance around a community bonfire in general celebration that right has reasserted itself.

Except.

The resignation of Bob Diamond as chief executive of Barclays six days after it was revealed his employees had manipulated international interest rates for their own ends is only going to make more money for them, and less for us.

Diamond himself is expected to get around £25million in a pay-off, consisting of shares, pension, benefits and a golden goodbye. Not bad for a week of bad headlines and some questions from MPs who don't know anything about banking or they'd have fixed this mess ages ago.

Meanwhile the share price of Barclays is rising again after dropping almost 15 per cent in the past week, so most of the board and Mr Diamond himself will be better off still.

At the same time the rate that Barclays fiddled with has been seriously discredited and banks in future are going to treat it with more caution than they did - adding the extra risk to the costs of your mortgage, your savings account, your business loan and credit card.

And the worst that any of the people responsible for behaving criminally with trillions of pounds of our money might face looks likely to be a "short, sharp" Parliamentary inquiry according to Treasury minister Mark Hoban.

Miliminor wants it to be a more thorough and long-winded public inquiry led by a judge and everyone seems to have forgotten the fact that inquiries, long or short, tend to achieve the square root of naff all in as expensive a manner as possible.

And in the meantime bankers are still setting the interbank lending rates via the British Banking Association which is run by a board of, oh yes, all the bank chief executives who've been creaming a healthy profit out of the banking crisis we had to bail them out of.

So what's to celebrate? As far as I can see they're laughing all the way out of one bank and into the next one.

Never mind the Fraud Act 2006 allows for sentences of up to 10 years for fraud by means of false representation, abuse of position or failing to disclose information and that Barclays staff did all of those things according to the regulator.

Never mind the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 allows for multi-million pound fines and sentences of up to seven years for market abuse.

Never mind Bob Diamond as the boss of the part of the bank that was doing it bears the ultimate moral responsibility and should at the very least have his visa to work here withdrawn post-haste so he can be deported back to his £4m Nantucket mansion to count his £105m fortune.


He says it's his 'anchor'; fine, let's tie it round his neck and chuck him overboard.

Never mind the banking system is corrupt, never mind the trillions it owes us, never mind the way they have been schmoozed for donations by political parties, deregulated, under-regulated and allowed to negotiate their tax liabilities so they pay less than Jimmy Carr.

Never mind any of that, because money is the only thing we make any more. Our once-massive export industries - cars, coal, engineering, steel - were all but killed thirty years ago and now the major part of our economy has been given over entirely to finance.

There are trillions of pounds that pass through the City every day and while most of it doesn't stop to look around the financial services sector employs a million people and accounts for 10 per cent of the total national income.

It would account for a lot more if they all paid the proper tax, but hey ho. The important thing is that no-one in Westminster is going to rock that boat, even if it is being drive by a psychotic gambler with a bottle of Bollinger in each hand.

There's no point getting highly delighted about one or two bankers falling on a fully-retractable and diamond-encrusted sword when it becomes financially viable for them to do so.

Because unlike everything else - unlike the bailout, unlike our politicians, our inquiries, and increasingly our right to speech and expression - the bankers are still free.

Surely it's time to make them pay?


You cannot trust a man in loafers. How many times?