Thursday, March 04, 2010

'A very good election to loose'

In the general gloom I have only one piece of potentially good news, and even that might be wishful thinking. The bank bonuses this year are so grotesque that there are only two explanations for them. One is that investment banking culture truly is psychotic, in the strict sense of being out of touch with reality. That’s possible. The other explanation is that, as a French economist said to me when the crunch kicked in, ‘It’s over.’ He meant the whole obscene-bonus culture, the model in which the banks’ shareholders let the bankers pay themselves half what the bank ‘earns’, in the context of a regulatory and political framework in which the banks are allowed to do whatever they like. The proposals now being touted do not guarantee systemic safety, but taken together they will, for sure, make the system much less profitable. Maybe, just maybe, the bankers are pigging out this year because they suspect this is the last of the good times. If we’re looking for a glint of silver lining, does that count?
from The Great British Economy Disaster by John Lanchester

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