Friday, 27 February 2009

Let's blame... the Bankers

Wouldn't it be great to be able to blame the meltdown/recession/depression/economic cock-up (select your favourite) on one person or one group of people? To have one face to throw things at and to be able to curse fluently at the right person. That would be great.

Sadly I don't think it's that simple. Do I think that the Bankers were stupid or even complicit? Yes - certainly. There are, however, other people to blame too - us. The shareholders. "Wait", you say. "I wasn't a shareholder". Well if you have a pension (and if you don't, that's pretty worrying), you probably were a shareholder. I was. So at best, I too was complicit in the risk-taking that was going. After all, we the shareholders were demanding high returns - double digit growth(!) - from a mature bank. Now come on - we're all intelligent people and we know that high return demands high (or at least higher) risk. We the shareholders were demanding high returns and were willing to look the other way when confronted with the obvious increase in risk.

Shame on all of us, I say.

Will it change? No, probably not. I imagine that we, as a nation and as a group of investors, will be more cautious in the future. In the end, however, we are a greedy race. My point is that while it's fun to shout and throw things at the bankers (I'm not suggesting that we stop) - we can't wash our hands of all blame. We should examine our own positions and our own demands and accept our responsibilities.

Sermon over for today.

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