Another week and another crisis in the financial sector caused by the scandalous behaviour of bankers. Individuals directly implicated are disciplined or dismissed as if they are wild mavericks and solely responsible. Their line bosses deny knowledge and claim immunity while the scapegoats carry the can. The reality is that there is an institutional and systemic culture within banking and insurance corporations, together with a lack of basic morality, that results in the creation of ‘exotic’ products designed to profit the financial institutions. They are too clever by far in devising complicated derivative and investment plans to a formula that only mathematical geniuses can understand. Even the employees selling the product do not understand them. There is misrepresentation and misselling alongside manipulation of the markets and interest rates, all designed to benefit the finance corporations and reward the executives at the expense of the personal customer, and small and medium enterprises [large enterprises employ experts to avoid these risks]. This toxic behaviour pervades and permeates into every nook and cranny of our economy and society, poisoning and undermining our efforts to recover and progress. For every one big winner there are lots of small losers and the cost of putting matters right and eliminating debt falls on each one of us individuals as a taxpayer, consumer or customer of the banks and insurance corporations.
There is outrage with the news media and politicians falling over themselves to denounce this behaviour, apportion blame, and demand retribution. This is like the pot calling the kettle black. The banks, newspapers and politicians have all been caught out behaving badly. None of them are in a position to cast the first stone. The public – who have to ultimately pay – will decide for themselves which is black, blacker or blackest. They have reached the point that you cannot fool all the people all the time. The public are demanding action and those executives be held to account. Trust has been lost; it’s a pox on all their houses. Regaining that trust will take a long time if ever. For certain, the present incumbents who hold the levers of power must be expurgated like objectionable matter. They must be replaced by leaders in every sphere of society who are imbued with honesty and integrity, rooted in common sense, reality and morality.
The governmental bodies that we pay to protect us have been a dismal failure. The monitors have operated in the dark. The regulators have had trouble keeping up and been behind the curve. They have all been reactive when they should have been proactive and ahead of the game. They needed to be alert and aware, instead of being taken by surprise. If you want to be safe from the sharks the first rule is to understand that they will – not may – bite you and take you down. When it comes to regulating the financial sector it is not easy. It is like trying to catch rain in a sieve. They will always try to come up with schemes and products that circumvent the rules and are always looking for the loopholes. This isn’t a game; it’s a matter of survival.
When we know all the facts we will in all probability find that the manipulators of the inter bank lending interest rate were treating the exercise like a game. The wording of exchanged e-mails is indicative. They will all be of a certain age, computer literate, brought up with and adept at computer games. In effect the difference between their business programmes and their gaming programmes will have blurred, and reality with it. Nobody gets physically hurt no matter how violent the computer game is. If everything fails, just reboot and start again. In the real world their behaviour is motivated by reward resulting from targets that bring them bonuses and commission. Those targets and the systems within which they operate are devised and introduced by management with the approval of the directors. They are not ignorant of what is going on or the risks that such a culture engenders. The buck stops at the top and they must take responsibility.
There is an element of criminality with public polls indicating that people overwhelmingly want those involved to be prosecuted. There is also the prospect of civil actions by those people and businesses that have suffered loss. Even if damages are awarded against the banks, it is the customers who ultimately pay. Politicians are talking about new laws making liability personal to those involved [which will mean new business for the insurers providing indemnity insurance] and introducing codes of conduct [meaning the imposition of morality]. When politicians start preaching morality they are immediately lampooned by the news media who as we have said are not in a position to judge anyone. In the public mind it will be a case of ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander’. The same codes of moral behaviour and personal liability can be applied to those politicians in government who through their wilful decisions and actions cause a loss to the public purse.
In 2005 the Resurgence founding Declaration proclaimed that our intent was, “To establishing a political organisation of excellent behaviour and conduct, formed on the basis of decency, dignity, honesty, integrity and respect, following the example of Saint Thomas More.” The same intent can be applied to the reform and renewal of our society.
Our Prospectus was very clear in stating, “In terms of the UK nothing that has been put in place is sustainable. Our society is crumbling; our civil liberties are being eroded; our political system is undemocratic; our economy is built on quick-sand; our public services are failing; our natural environment is being destroyed; our communities have been allowed to wither; our cohesion has dissipated; our traditional values have been derided; our leaders are morally bankrupt; our standards of behaviour have been corrupted.”
The last seven years have shown our diagnosis to be correct. Nothing has changed.