When are the banks going to give our money back?

bankers
It is easy to forget how angry we should be at the bankers.

They made an almighty mess of the economy, then they accepted so much money from the government to keep them afloat that they crippled us for years to come, and then they carried on exactly as if nothing had happened.

Their banks are still losing money but the bankers are still taking home huge bonuses, on top of their huge salaries. Some of these bonuses are measured as multiples of their basic pay.

Can you imagine the outcry if all the rest of us demanded to be treated that way?

David Cameron, our comedy Prime Minister, is fighting a European Union scheme to cap those bonuses, saying that without the incentive of huge gobs of cash, these bankers – who caused the crash, remember – will leave the UK. He thinks we need them. According to the BBC’s Any Questions today, he might have a point.

It depends whether all those bankers, with their bonuses, will be paying the full 50 per cent rate of income tax. If they are all doing so, then, fair enough, we need them, because that money goes back into the national bank account and helps us out. If not – and this seems far more likely – then why keep them? There are plenty of others, in jobs lower down the scale, waiting their turn. Considering the mess that was created in 2008, they’ll probably do a better job.

If Mr Cameron really wants all those bad bankers to stay in the UK, he would be more popular if he quoted a different reason: Justice. How many British bankers have been prosecuted for causing the crash? Is it even possible to prosecute them for it? If not, how can they be punished, other than by docking their salaries or pay? Making the banking institutions themselves pay up is not useful in this instance, because it assigns no personal responsibility.

There is the issue of whether the bankers are actually managing to re-stabilise our financial institutions. If so, then that might be considered a good reason to continue providing their bonuses. If a bank’s losses go down from billions to merely hundreds of millions, is that a justification for paying out hundreds of millions more in bonuses?

It all seems very complicated.

But that doesn’t mean we should stop being angry about it, and it doesn’t mean we should stop seeking compensation for it.

The bottom line is that the banks have absorbed hundreds of billions of pounds that belong to British taxpayers, and now the vast majority of British taxpayers are having to go without, due to a shortage of cash, while the bankers – with their bonuses – are allowed to continue their profligate lifestyle.

What better demonstration could there be, of the fact that we are definitely not “all in it together”?

The honourable thing to do, for the bankers, would have been to make a solemn commitment to provide restitution for all the damage they caused, and to agree not to demand bonuses or to move elsewhere until that restitution has been provided in full.

But these are not honourable people.

Maybe it would be better to point out that we do have banks that are owned by the state. Perhaps we should take the view that, if those other banks that received so much money are now so rich that they can continue paying out enormous bonuses, then they are clearly in a position to pay back their debt to the nation and return the money that was provided to them. If they are unable to do so, then they should be broken up, with citizens’ accounts absorbed into the nationalised banks (to safeguard our savings), and the rest of the organisation sold off piecemeal to pay off the debt.

Hang that threat over them, and let’s see what happens!

But we won’t see that, will we?

It isn’t going to happen, and it’s just the naive speculation of a lay spectator, viewing it all from the outside.

Still, it’s a starting-point.

Does anybody with more expertise have a practical plan to get our money back?

8 thoughts on “When are the banks going to give our money back?

  1. rainbowwarriorlizzie

    The Three Little Pigs comes to mind…Once upon a time there were three little pigs Bob Diamond former head of Barclay’s Bank, David Camoron of the Comedy Government and Poor Joe Public being screwed by Both!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      That would make us all pigs!

      As far as banking is concerned, I’d say the three pigs we all know are Fred ‘the Shred’ Goodwin, Bob Diamond and Stephen Hester.

      But these are only the public faces of their respective banks (and two of the above are from the SAME bank, so it’s even less representative).

      I think a lot of bad bankers have managed to stay anonymous. I’d like to see names and I want them to give an account of themselves.

  2. john

    The bankers got away with it on the pretext that they were too big to fail. I argued in 2008 that parliament should have had a few all night sitting in order to nationalise the retail banks but let the investment banks go under with their debts, just like Iceland did (and they are now doing pretty well). That was how their capitalism was supposed to work and it was also the moral thing to do.

    They argue that the economy relies on the income from the City but its a vice and not a virtue to have such a structural imblance in an economy especially since London is now seen as the home of every banking fraud. The dependence on immoral earnings doesn’t seem to bother Westminster. It’s impossible to say how viable the banks are at present in the UK – I wouldn’t trust their accounts. (The government is issuing bonds which are being bought by the Bank of England by printing money. This is like a company propping up its share price by rigging the market).

  3. Big Bill

    The reason the economy is so dependent upon the City is because the banks crush all other emerging businesses before they can develop, witness the swaps scandal. Create an honest people-owned bank and we’d have near-instant universal prosperity. That’s why we don’t have one, it would remove prosperity from the hands of the so-called elite and make it commonplace.

  4. hekatetrimorphe

    I agree, they have to be nationalised and run to finance socially useful businesses, not stock market gambling. The fact that the banks that had to be taken over by the government have not been restrained in any way by Labour or Tories however shows that we need to build a new party to actually represent ordinary people – urgent task but long way to go.

    1. No job, no benefits, no income for a whole year. Thanks, Cleggy.

      Absolutely; a real party representing real people and the real reality in which we live. Only problem is: that would never be allowed to happen.
      We are ruled by the super-rich, trans-global corporations and mafia-style families with medieval bloodlines; if we get in their way, they will murder us with remorseless impunity. Try it.

  5. Thomas

    If they had given the money to bail out the banks to the poor instead, it would have gone back into the ecomony within days to pay debts, buy stuff ect, and indirectly back to the banks, healing them and helping the ecomony at the same time.

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