Wednesday 25 October 2023

Bonuses, merchants and Prime Ministers


In “The Tempest”, William Shakespeare tells us that “What's past is prologue”. For the current PM, that prologue was a period as a banker, or a merchant as a Cockney might have it. It’s a ‘profession’, using the term in its very loosest sense, which managed to wreck the economy on the back of excessive incentives for its practitioners to do what made them rich rather than what served the interests of the population at large. An unkind person might see his subsequent appointments as Chancellor and Prime Minister as being just a case of following the same career goal by a different route. He certainly understands why his fellow merchants can’t do a proper job of economic destruction unless they are properly incentivised, which goes a long way towards explaining the decision to abolish the cap on bankers’ bonuses.

He claims that the decision is not his at all, and is entirely a matter for the ‘independent’ regulators (a majority of whose members are appointed, strangely enough, by the government), although it’s not so long ago that one of his successors as Chancellor made it clear that it was very much a decision for the government to take. It might, of course, simply be a test run for an excuse which he intends to rely upon a great deal between now and the next election – “nothing to do with me, guv”. He’s already written off most of the decisions taken by his four predecessors as PM since the Tories were elected in 2010 in a similar fashion; it’s a small jump from there to include his own. Alternatively, it might be preparation for the prologue to become the epilogue, as he anticipates some sort of return to the banking sector. Career consistency in the economic destruction sector means he’s at least eyeing a job about which he knows something. And, as the saying almost goes: ‘once a merchant, always a merchant’.


dafis said...

The destructive influences of the City and financial institutions in general have been evident for ages. Writers like you often complain how the system is rigged so these fat cats can extract wealth while serving the interests of hardly anyone else. Yet if I was to suggest lining them all up and executing the lot the same bunch of writers would be howling with rage against such radical solutions. Yet you've tolerated the status quo for most of your lives.

John Dixon said...


You're right - I would indeed be outraged at the thought of arbitrary executions. But a proper legal process leading to a jail term would cause no howls here. The political problem is getting suitable laws enacted - and that's about winning over public opinion, isn't it?

dafis said...

John - I would only line them up after a trial. After all you need to have an event where evidence can be exhibited.

Public opinion ? Big challenge that, so fickle despite the amount of evidence that these vultures win whether their markets rise or fall. Despite their relative poverty too many people in UK and here in Wales are reluctant to change the rules because .... they fancy becoming rich themselves one day. And while they dream on the schemers and scammers ride roughshod over everybody.

John Dixon said...

I'm still averse to executions, even after due process.