Well, it’s almost upon us—Christmas party time in the city—a time when the worries of the year can be pushed aside and replaced with a seasonal hangover.
Already the drinks receptions, corporate lunches and … err, bowling outings have been penned into the diary accompanied by enough free booze to embarrass a Hun feast. Where last year they were drowning their sorrows with a pint of Blithering Idiot at the Humble Inn, this year they’ll once again be distilling the Goldschläger and chewing on the flecks.
For the rest of Britain we’re told it is to be a frugal Christmas. Why not indulge in one of those much popularised “staycations”, take that campervan to the Cotswolds and let the kids roll around in the mud while you try desperately to shield your last rollie from the inevitable downpour?
I know, I’m being overly morose, after all there is much to advertise the Cotswolds. But I, for one, was looking forward to a festive season where I could spend excessively to help nurse the great economy back to health without the fear of pesky bank charges ruining all the fun.
Alas it is not to be. According to Lord Phillips banks can charge whatever they want, as long as they tell us in tiny print at the bottom of page 47 that they’re going to do it. This ruling felt a bit like seeing that present under the tree which looks like that promised pony, it sounds like a pony when you shake it, but when you eagerly tear it open on Christmas morning it turns out to be socks in a pony-shaped box.
Well, it’s hard times for everyone, especially the banks, right? Not if you choose to believe the independent research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). They reckon that UK banking bonuses are to increase by 50% this year to £6 billion. No overdraft concerns there then.
While the judgement has been met by some bizarre criticism from certain corners (“I know I spent the money, but I can’t be held responsible for my actions etc etc … ”), I suspect it would have been greeted with a less vitriolic response if the same institutions weren’t paying themselves off with the proceeds.
We couldn’t possibly invade the rights of a company to set its own business model, goes the government line. Except, that is, when the businesses are in trouble at which point it’s actively encouraged, nay demanded.
Yet, is it not a nonsensical argument that regulators and lawmakers who define the parameters under which businesses operate are incapable of impinging on the rights of companies within its jurisdiction? Haven’t they already banned fraud, insider trading and tax evasion?
Simply put, there is a general consensus that excessive bonuses were part of the cultural problems in the banking system. The government, whoever it turns out to comprise of in 2010, should stop making excuses and fix it