Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Telegraph in 2006: 'GREED IS GOOD'

The queue of journalists, bosses and Chancellors who until the other day were defending "excessive City bonuses".

Not long ago you couldn't utter a single word against excessive City bonuses. Those who did were envious moaners clueless as to how financial markets work.

Take the same pious Telegraph that today is ranting against the "scandalous greed" of MPs. As recent as October 2006 they sported this proud headline: "Greed is good".

"Who benefits [from excessive wages and bonuses within the Square Mile]? All of us", the Telegraph's leader roared, along with the trite "It makes sense for banks to spend vast sums in order to secure the best available talent" and the oily assertion that "the country would be considerably worse off [if it wasn't for the City workers'] enterprise, ambition and, yes, their greed".

However, to be fair to the Telegraph, they weren't alone.

Back in December 2006, the Independent's Hamish McRae wrote that "like or loathe them, big City bonuses keep London at the top of its game" while Lord Mayor of the City of London John Stuttard argued in the Financial Times that the banks' colossal profits "provide the high octane fuel for the global financial services engine". For deputy CBI chief John Cridland, "in a world where UK companies face global competition it is vital they can recruit and retain talented executives to keep ahead of the game". And, let's not forget Gordon Brown's words of June 2004: “[i]n budget after budget I want us to do even more to encourage the risk takers”.

This was the consensus until early 2008. A world where thousands of crumbs-seeking earthlings were keen to act as the official mouthpiece of billionaire bosses, insisting that Britain without the talent of Fred Goodwin, Adam Applegarth and their likes would have meant economic devastation.

Fast forward to last Friday and the Treasury Commitee investigating the credit crisis came to the shocking conclusion that "bonus-driven remuneration structures led to a lethal combination of reckless and excessive risk-taking", slamming the Financial Service Authority for "not taking [and] tackling this issue seriously enough".

Similarly, tomorrow Channel 4's Dispatches will screen a report called Britain's Bankers: still cashing in, shedding some light on the way leading bankers are still making millions in spite of what they've inflicted upon the economy - along with evidence of how much Britain's best talent kept inflating their pay packets (take for instance Fred Goodwin's entitlement to take a year off sick on his full £1.3m salary) even as it was obvious their knack for financial dexterity had plunged the country into a massive recession.

1 comment:

Selma said...

I couldnt agree more, claude.