Which conflict of interest?

Another day, another patronising lecture from the FT.

Today it’s Jamie Whyte. He tells us, in the usual FT tone of pursed-lipped frustration with the foolishness of lesser mortals, that the problem with paying bankers is not that their incomes need putting under control but that the interests of bankers need aligning better with their employers. Then they would pursue the interests of their employers (the banks) with the same alacrity that they pursue their own. So banks would not crash about our ears.

No fooling?

But that is not the problem, of course. The problem is that the bankers always were pursuing the banks’ interests, because ramping up risk, mass mis-selling, bogus economics, self-importance and outright lies were not only consistent with what the banks were up to but were, in most case, actively propagated by both the banks and their spokespeople – the very bankers Whyte seems to think had another agenda.

In short, it was not the relationship between employer and employee that was broken but the relationship between both employer and employee and the society of which they were allegedly responsible members and on whose resources they battened with such enthusiasm.

But what ultimately is Whyte saying here? Quite simple – that there’s nothing wrong with the system that a few tweaks cannot fix. Even though those tweaks look like costing us trillions of pounds/ euros/ dollars, not to mention the well-being of thousands who will pay with their jobs, well-being and social support.

I wonder how hard it would be to construct a handbook of excuses for those discovered causing a monumental cock-up? We certainly seem to have seen quite a few since Lehman’s went pear-shaped. Blame government. Blame the victims. Accuse those who predicted this mess years ago of 20-20 hindsight. Deny that there’s anything seriously wrong. Patronise those who are trying to clear up the mess.

I wonder how many we have yet to see? Considering how much effort and imagination this lot have dedicated to looking for (but not, it turns out, finding) loopholes in the basic laws of economics, quite a few.

More of RJ Robinson at http://richardjrobinson.blogspot.com/

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