TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 13th November 2014
“Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crossed the bar.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson – poet – 1809-1892
After 52 years and two months’ gainful employment in the City of London, yesterday, without any qualification or ambiguity, was the saddest day of my professional life. I hang my head in shame! Any thought of a quick return of respect and trust towards the financial sector has been blown out of the water by a small collection of mindless, greedy, selfish and arrogant congenital idiots.
Going back five years I saw it as my duty to stand up for the principles of the City. Though there was a combination of reckless behaviour, incompetence, greed, poor and soft regulation, non-existent credit analysis and government/political incompetence, which eventually brought the banking sector and the world’s economy to its knees. What wasn’t 100% clear then was criminal intent. The market was under a wet sale and it was hard to pin the rosette on any individual. It was too easy to single out Fred Goodwin, but he was endemic of a combination of incompetence and hubris. He and his colleagues stood to make too much money from their success to actually want to throw the ‘Baby out with the bathwater’ with criminal intent. People were not having any of my balanced presentation. There was no appetite for conversation or reason. Too many people had been poleaxed by the crisis with many walking out in to the sunset with bags of undeserved swag!
The years rolled quietly by; the recovery started. Then the damage caused by not only PPI but also LIBOR rigging manifested themselves. Stronger and better qualified regulators brought their influence to bear. PPI fines and repayments have cost £20 billion. This behaviour was over-zealous miss-selling caused by greed and individual bonus calculations. Still criminal intent was not that obvious. LIBOR, as a system, was always flawed. Fancy allowing a trade association to decide the pricing of $500 billion of loans? When so many banks are involved in these calculations, again proving criminal intent takes time. It looks as though perpetrators will eventually be brought to book and jail looms! The threat of civil actions from wronged customers looms. Peyton Place as a saga may have nothing on the FX rigging fiasco!
Last year I flagged up the fact FX rate fixing could make the other malpractices look like a vicarage tea party. The behaviour by a few has been reprehensible. It was particularly galling that this alleged criminal collusion was going on at the same time as the LIBOR investigation. The angst and contempt for the City has never been higher! – Deservedly so! Some of the evidence makes my stomach turn. Barclays has chosen to be tried on its own. It is difficult to understand their rationale. One can only assume that Barclays felt that in the past it had been discriminated against and under Jenkins’s policy – ‘transparency’ is the name of their game.
In closing all I can say is that in the case of Andrew Bailey, Martin Wheatley and Tracy McDermott, the market has every confidence. I know I speak for 99.999% of City workers – WE ARE ANGRY, DISPIRITED AND DISMAYED. Trust me the City is NOT rotten to the core! These FX fiddlers are just mindless and selfish. May they be brought to book! To the guilty – I hope the keys are thrown away for a long time. Fines have proved to be useless. They are not a deterrent.