Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Devil Bankers.. Are We Really That Bad?

In the last weeks a new game is being played from Monaco to Minnesota, it is called 'bash-the-banker' The press have been full of it (literally), letting everyone in the profession know that we are soulless scum who have brought on the end-of-days.

My personal experience was speaking with an actor at a wedding of a school friend who blamed me for all the ills in the world. A few gin and tonics had passed my lips so he got some back, but saying that 'a few hundred years ago you would be sitting at the end of my bed in a three pointed hat and pointy shoes amusing me' may have being going a bit too far.

I can see his point, however, our profession has not covered itself in glory but I do take exception to us all being lumped in together. I have neither invested in nor created a CDO and I put down 20% for my mortgage...

Thanks to a friend, who has always had a leaning towards taking the mickey out of what I do for a living, I am now the proud owner of a t-shirt that proclaims that I am a 'Merchant Banker'. For those of you reading this from the US or, in fact, anywhere outside London you may not get the joke. 'Merchant Banker' is cockney rhyming slang for a word that sounds like 'banker' but is a little further down the picking order, alphabetically, and suggests I am not a nice person. I shall wear it with pride.

I guess that people are just very angry and looking for someone to blame and we as industry practioners are in the firing line. Here are some choice musings from upset people:

Irish Green Party backbencher Paul Gogarty described bankers as "scum" as he told the House he was only supporting the (Irish rescue deal) legislation through 'gritted teeth'. Thanks Paul, we spend enough time dissing politicians so right back at ya..

In the marvelously entitled 'Banks Are Scum' blog the author says:

"You cannot print money and throw it at the scum filth on Wall Street. The fact is this is not a capitalistic based economy. The rule is simple, you f*** up, you fix up. I despise, HATE for want of a better word, the people in government and criminal bankers who have led all astray over the last 300 years. The scum must swing by the neck till the last bit of life has been extricated from their demon bodies."

Gulp... 'swing by the neck until you be dead'... A bit harsh..

The Hollow Mantras of Vision blog says:


Their capitals not mine, and I am married...er to a woman.. does that let me off?

I could go on but I think the above gives you a good picture of how we are seen in this current environment.

How the mighty have fallen. The highest searched article on this site has, for some time, been 'How to Become a Hedge fund Manager' in recent weeks this has dropped off the radar and, if the Internet rhetoric is to be believed, it will now be searched about as many times as 'how to perform a frontal lobotomy on myself'.

I actually think a lot of this nonsense is a bit of schadenfreude from those with a socialist leaning having their fifteen minutes of fame. Listening to many predictions in the deepest darkest recesses of the net where radicals of every belief lurk, bankers have 'brought on the end of times', are 'causing world poverty' and are 'the hidden malice out to control the world for their own evil ends'.

David Icke even thinks we are all lizard tongued parts of a secret world order.

Oh well, we can't be popular all the time. Bankers are just average Joes at heart people...don't hate the player, hate the game.

I am just off to eat a mouse, beat up an old lady and insert microchips into the local yokels while shorting a bank stock until it's bankrupt. I may also meet up with my other banking buddies and sacrifice a lamb.

I will see you all later at our next secret annual summit where we can discuss the next hideously clever plan to rule the world.

"Jeeves, fire up the limo and get the pilot to make ready the jet... it is time to spend a few months on the yatch"


Anonymous said...

our profession has "not covered itself in glory"?? Understatement of the year. You guys in the city made 17 billion in bonuses last year and yet we are now bailing you out! Yeah you are right. It's irrational of us to find that Reprehensible. You've all done a great job.. Guess you and your mates are ok though.(last years bonus and all.) Great job guys! Keep it up.
(By the way i'm far from a socialist and even i am shocked by the monumental greed/amoral attitude involved here.)

Asset Manager said...

Thanks for your comment, but you kinda missed the point and proved ours. The hysteria being whipped up by the press against anyone in financial services is, frankly, ridiculous. I happen to agree that certain bankers, mortage lenders and regulators were monumentally, greedy, arrogant and dim beyond belief and they should pay a price.

This is the point, however, most people in our industry had nothing to do with CDO's and other toxic constructs so going on a McCarthyist which hunt against all 'bankers' is just plain wrong.

The truth, which most do not want to hear, is that people buying property they could not afford to pay for is at the crux of this problem. Those people at dinner parties talking about their 20 buy-to-let properties that they bought on self-certification mortages, no money down etc have caused a crisis for those who have borrowed within their means.

The media would have us believe that these property buyers were suckered into deals to buy houses, in some cases maybe, but how many property shows encouraged this misguided belief that property would go up forever. No, most weren't suckered they just wanted to get on the gravy train.

Greed certainly took over some foolish lenders, those that securitised these bad loans, those that insured them and those that bought them, but greed also took over the very people that are now calling bankers 'scum' - those who made a property gamble and failed.

Free Music said...

well i agree. Media manipulates everything