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Bumper bonuses mean bumper tax

Robert Peston | 00:00 UK time, Monday, 4 January 2010

It's probably a serious forecasting error that means the public finances will be in marginally better shape than feared (which makes a change, you might say).

TreasuryJust a few weeks after the Treasury predicted that the revenue from its one-off bonus super-tax would be £550m, bankers are lining up to tell me the government will receive many times that amount.

In fact, it is highly likely that just two international banks, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, will each pay more than £550m.

The numbers work like this.

A 50% tax is being levied on bonuses greater than £25,000, which is payable by the banks as a "payroll tax".

Goldman and JP Morgan are expected to declare bonuses for UK-based employees worth $2bn in aggregate each (and roughly $10bn respectively for executives across the world).

On the reasonable assumption that most of that $2bn consists of bonuses greater than £25,000, Morgan and Goldman would each pay around $1bn in tax, or more than £600m.

Other international banks, such as Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche, would be expected to pay about 25% less.

So the yield from just those banks would be around £3bn.

And then on top of that, there should be whopping contributions from the genuinely British banks, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Just like Goldman and JP Morgan, the tax take from each of Barclays and RBS could be more than the Treasury's £550m estimate for the entire banking industry (see my note of a month ago, RBS board to quit if Chancellor vetoes £1.5bn in bonuses).

Now, I am sure that when it comes to the expensive moment of truth, the banks will find ways to reduce what they pay.

But even if they slash this year's bonuses and also take aggressive steps to avoid the levy, the Treasury should be able to garner several billion pounds in total.

Which would be useful to it, though (not that you need reminding) nowhere near enough to fill the black hole in the public finances.

As it happens, a Treasury official, Edward Troup, said shortly before Christmas - in evidence to MPs on the Treasury Select Committee - that he expected the gross take from the tax would be around £1bn.

He said that the £550m figure announced by the Chancellor was a "net" figure: the Treasury expected the new tax would persuade some banks to reduce bonus payments, which would mean that mainstream income tax and national insurance would be reduced.

But even the £1bn looks wrong by a wide margin.

So how and why did the Treasury make this error?

Cynics in the City think it was a deliberate piece of political opportunism. They say ministers want to be able to announce some "good news" in the budget, and a bumper harvest from unpopular bankers would be classified as such.

Maybe so.

Although some say that a more plausible explanation is that the authorities still have worryingly little knowledge of the vast sums generated and earned in the City.

I should also point out that the anger about the tax among bankers is still rising - which they won't forget (they say) next time their organisations have decisions to make about where to base a new office or new business.

The tax may be their just desert for their role in helping to cause the global financial crisis. That's certainly how millions of citizens see the impost. But no turkey ever helped to turn the oven on, come Christmas morning.

If you take a US bank like JP Morgan, for example, I am told that more than 90% of its big profit generators in London are not Brits (that's to ignore Cazenove, its venerable British stockbroker).

These proudly cosmopolitan types simply don't understand why they are being clobbered by the British taxman, and won't easily forget or forgive.

That said, most of the big banks are likely to protect their British-based employees from the full burden of the tax.

The banks' bosses don't see why staff who happen to be located in London should be penalised for what is perceived to be the bad luck of sitting at a computer screen in the one country that has announced a special bonus tax.

So the likes of JP Morgan, Goldman and Deutsche are likely to treat the tax as a cost for their firms as a whole, not just their UK operations.

The effect of that would be to reduce the bonus pool available for all employees.

Some like Goldman may also pass perhaps half of the cost of the tax to shareholders, in the form of lower dividends.

In other words, this 50% British tax on bonuses will in practice lead to a reduction of between 5% and 12% in bonuses paid to all bankers, wherever they happen to be living.

Which means that the fame or infamy of Alistair Darling and his bonus tax is spreading to bankers in every nook and cranny of the global market place.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Just wait until the US administration realises they might as well do the same thing.

    (Their taxpayers will think they're mad not to).

  • Comment number 2.

    Another banker/bonus blog hmm

    Robert can we have a blog on the 'Common Purpose' I gather you know a little about them. People should be made aware of this organisation but you never see it discussed in the media?

  • Comment number 3.

    I seriously doubt the bankers are worried. In the US the financial "reform" legislation passed recently by the House of Representatives (HR 4173) has already pre-authorised the Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. (Thats twice as much as this time).

    If anyone doubts the power of the banks lobbyists over the State (i.e most of us as taxpayers) they might consider this; the same legislation contains a provision that, in the event of another government request for emergency aid to prop up the financial system, debate in Congress be limited to just 10 hours.

    Bankers jobs, and bonuses, are safe.

  • Comment number 4.

    "their just dessert", Robert, not "their just desert".

  • Comment number 5.

    I have to say that the government's decision to clobber bankers is the best thing that's ever happened to our economy. Of course, I live in China.

    We're happy to welcome all international bankers to our financial centres where they can help China build its economy through the next decade. And if you British people need to borrow money from a bank you can sleep in the knowledge that you are helping thousands of Chinese families reach the middle-class status your government now tries its best to forbid.


  • Comment number 6.

    2010 will be the year the public finances start to look better than predicted.

    Looks like my prediction is already coming true!


  • Comment number 7.

    Do I detect some sympathy for the bonus-receivers from you, Robert? If so, it is not consistent with some of the points you were making in the early days of the crisis. We seem to be forgetting how we got into this mess - greed and lack of control by the individuals who now want to give and receive extortionate and unjustifiable payments to each other. We are not going to solve the world's problems overnight but if you want to eat an elephant, try one mouthful at a time. As for the talent relocating to tax-friendly countries, let them go. We might be surprised just how many higher-calibre individuals are waiting for the chance to work in the still highly lucrative financial sector for modest but fair remuneration. Better still we might encourage the bright young sparks to develop their careers in the manufacturing sector and add real value to the UK's economy.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm not sure that large tax returns are necessarily a beneficial thing.

    We really have to ask what percentage of the loans for which bonuses were awarded will turn toxic?

    The only way to stabilise the banking system worldwide is to control and minimise the amount of debt toxicity.

    The bankers may still have their bonuses but is there less debt toxicity in the world?

    I'm still doubtful that the banks have done anything like what is necessary to prevent debt toxicity creating another financial crisis.

  • Comment number 9.

    Perhaps another way to look at it is : it was a knee jerk reaction and the full ramifications were not understood by the people introducing this tax..... which as we have seen, has happened quite a lot.

    My take on this will be yes we get a windfall but !!! i can guarantee the long term effect will be a loss to the UK finances,they wont get bitten twice,and will move elsewhere.

  • Comment number 10.

    Separate investment banks from retail banks and let the investment banks pay their employees what they like...but without taxpayer insurance cover. Premiership 'players' need to be penalised for failure by relagation, just as Dick Fauld was.

    We have to break the cycle of privatised profits and socilaised losses.

    Glass-Steagall law and Tobin tax please!

  • Comment number 11.

    The bonus pool.

    Now last year an investment firm wanted to calculate its bonus pool.

    Some of the assets were in shares, some in gilts, and I think, but cannot confirm that some were in other financial instruments, and some were in commercial property.

    So the value of the all these assets have to be valued to arrive at the overall uplift of the investments controlled. And a percentage of the overall uplift is then doled out in bonus payments.

    In any event what they get valued at determines the level of the bonus.

    So correspondingly the more they get valued at, the more the bonus.

    Now the commercial property values have tanked by around 50%, mmmm,
    that’s not going to help the bonus pool is it.

    Well it’s not, unless of course it’s significantly over-valued on the books.
    Same principle applies to other hard to value investments.

    The funny thing is that the investors don’t actually realise what’s going on until they cash in their investment.

    At this point the futility of allowing Investment Companies access to their savings is usually brought home to them.

    In any event I intend to start this year as I finished last year:

    The plain truth is that if the state (which is us) does not control ‘money’, the state (which is us) can only ever be at the mercy of those who do.

    We need a state bank.

  • Comment number 12.

    A smaller financial sector is desirable for this economy. We need to reduce our exposure to these incompetent, greedy, talentless morons. We should also recall that those whining about their extra cash wouldnt have jobs at all in the UK if tax payers hadnt thrown them a life line in 2008, and continue to do so. I will not shed tears for these trust funded mid atlantic talentless idiots. Lets face it bonuses are designed to motivate meritocracies and what we have here is incompetence that takes years of nepotism and costly ivy league education to breed. If these people are leaving then please hurry along and dont let the door hit you on the backside on your way out.

  • Comment number 13.

    No turkey helped turn the oven on....are you saying their role in the crash was accidental? Perhaps we should stop worrying about all this, the cards are clearly stacked against us and in favour of the establishment, of which the bankers are clearly a part. Their indignance at having their loot partly extracted is a part of their other wordly sense of entitlement, what about all our savings and pensions losses that aren't being made good? Let them move, someone else can clear up their foul mess next time, and only a fool could believe there won't be a next time.

  • Comment number 14.

    More tax income from those bonuses is very good news. At least the self-obsessed scoundrels that populate banks in large numbers share a little bit in the pain which they caused in the first place.
    This coumtry is in big trouble not because of Gordon Brown (I won't defend his shortcomings nor forget his achievements), but because of the unsustainable moral and economic madness of too many of the so-called 'elite' in this country (the immoral and greedy madness of too many financial sector leaders, greedy toffs and similar intellectual lightweights). Neither Gordon Brown nor David Cameron seem to have the appetite or courage to really tackle the undelying exploitative structures and get-myself-rich-quick-no matter-the-consequences schemes in many sectors of the economy in the UK. Rip-off Britain wherever you look, enthusiastic tax evasion by anyone who can afford it, bankers who seem to believe they have a birthright to live in obscene luxury whilst the country falls apart: this country is morally bankrupt from top to bottom. The fish begins to stink from the head down as the saying goes. Those Torries who think that Cameron would change things for the better where Brown failed are seriously deluded. Yes, this country needs change desparately, but sadly none of the major parties seems to be morally or intellectually able to envision and deliver real change towards a more just, equal and sustainable British society. For a bit of education and further arguments please read:

  • Comment number 15.

    So when we discuss what something is worth, or who has rights to it, it’s a matter of degree how much anyone one can say the ‘property’ has been extracted. So, if we are to engage on that debate let’s not be partial, and we always need to go back to origin, rather than end points.

    Property and Debt is overvalued - Debt is bundled and sold

    Property is undervalued - Homes are repossessed

    Who is getting the residual value?

    (Hint) creditors work in collusion targeting individuals families and communities

  • Comment number 16.

    Wouldn't these bonuses have normally attracted 40% anyway

    So we are in for a 10% gain, are we not?

    Hardly a 'windfall'... and if they get their avoidance boots on, we may even see less from this group than before!!!

  • Comment number 17.


    The Guardian, 04-Jan-10
    ‘Goldman Sachs teams could quit the City over taxes and regulations’

    Bloomberg, 20-Dec-09
    ‘London Banker Exodus to Geneva Runs Into Housing and School Shortages’

  • Comment number 18.

    Bobby, if you think Goldman Sachs or Morgan Chase currently pay anything other than loose change in tax to the UK economy, then you had better do some more homework. Once you find out how much tax-avoidance they currently manage, you could then re-assess what they are lkely to cough up on the bonus-taxes. You should not be surprised to find that the original Treasury estimate of £550 millon might be too high, not too low............

  • Comment number 19.

    The letter i is stuck on my keyboard (-6 degrees here) for

  • Comment number 20.

    The conservatives said that the banks would drive the economy when they were in the early 80's.
    And now what will they say when the banks go? What will drive the economy now and in the future?

    Have I missed a new source of income for the country or are we all going back to the 1700's running the opium trade?

  • Comment number 21.

    Stories like this make me think we should have let the banks fail. Then the "proudly cosmopolitan types" would have lost their latest bonuses (though not of course the ones they got for taking such recklessly leveraged positions over the previous 10 years).

    Maybe the Icelandic voters have got it right - it would have caused a national emergency to let the banks fail but it would have cleared out these zombie banks that will be drinking our blood for years to come (more bad debt losses as the economy declines due to the money being sucked out to prop them up).

    Naive I know, but in my simplistic world it would have been better to let the banks fail, re-affirm moral hazard, and force the the excessively rewarded gamblers at the top to retire instead of creaming it off for years to come at our expense.

    £850 billion would have compensated genuine savers easily and left shed loads over to form a new national bank to provide credit for people who actually make things instead of property speculators... Obviously there would have been a mildly painful transition during which people were not paid, companies could not buy raw materials, there was no food on the shelves and the world dissolved into anarchy, but its a small price to pay for freedom from these bloodsucking masters of the universe...! sigh... not going to happen tho is it? Unless our overleveraged govt's follow the banks into ruin and we have to start from scratch. Grrrrr!

    [n.b. I'm more cheerful after mys econd cup of coffee...]

  • Comment number 22.

    I get the feeling that for the most part, the non-doms of this world hardly ever pay any tax anyway. So its unlikely that we'll see anything like the numbers you are talking about in the blog.

    The bigger question surely has to be about the type of industries we want to see in this country in the future. I understand that london gets a lot out of having rich bankers flouting their cash amongst the london elite, but as far as the rest of the country goes, I think that a scaling down of the finance sector would be a good thing. The finance sector is just too volatile for a small country like ours (hell, talk to the icelanders about that).

    What we should be doing, is concentrating on building up our capacity for high-technology research and development work. Instead of running stupid politically motivated "feel good" events like the olympics, we should be investing in fibre based broadband for every single citizen.

    We should be educating our children to become far more technologically literate and more socially and monetarily aware.

    Our future, should lie in high end technologies and "green" tech. We have a proud record of R&D knowledge which is sadly then taken off to the US for development and productization.

    But it wont happen, because there is no political will to have an educated country that will hold politicians to account for their actions. Much rather an uneducated mass of idiots being rules over by a handful of political (and in this sense I include bankers) elite in london.

  • Comment number 23.

    5 Major Plonquer

    China is welcome to them. I'm with 11 / Dempster - National bank.

  • Comment number 24.

    Erratum to my post #17

    The first linked article was of course in todays Telegraph (and not the Guardian).

  • Comment number 25.

    You only needed to watch the 'interview with a banker' on BBC breakfast this morning to see where the problems lie.

    The man (who did not want to be identified as it would lead to him being hated by his own and ridiculed by the rest of us) - actually tried to justify his 'eye-watering bonus' with a line of 'I have deserved it'

    Really? deserved it? and what exactly did you do to deserve a bonus which equates to hundreds of times the annual salary of a man doing a manual job?

    Did you do 300 years work of a single man in a single year?
    Did you discover a source free and abundant clean energy?
    Did you find a way of reducing nucleaur prolifaration?
    Did you find a new system of resource allocation which prevents the crisis Capitalism throws up?
    Did you find the secret of life?

    ...or did you gamble with other peoples money?

    The sickening part is that this guy actually believes he is clever because he was paid an extraordinary salary / bonus - where as he doesn't actually have a clue how or why he was paid what he was - he can only suggest that it's his 'exceptional ability' promted by a lack of any other reasonable explanation (which doesn't make him look like a fool)

    ...he then went on to blame the regulator for failing to keep banks in line

    ...therefore I shall arrive ay my court summons next week (for arguments sake) and blame my crime on 'the police not doing an effective job keeping me in line' - such is the absurdity of the bankers argument.

    Finally he signed off with a line of "I believe in Capitalism" - which seems to indicate he is happy to support it because it rewards him - but clearly he does not undertsand it - much as we might believe in God hopeful that one day we will be rewarded - but none of us actually understand God, what it is and even whether it exists or not - instead we rely on our 'faith' - much as the banker relies on his 'faith in Capitalism'.

    This one interview sums up the problem, the people who work in this world have no understanding of the bigger picture - not a clue - and yet politicans flock to them for advice on solving the problem.

    ...and still the journalists don't ask the crucial questions....

  • Comment number 26.

    17. At 09:50am on 04 Jan 2010, DebtJuggler

    Good to see some sharp analysis of the news DebtJuggler.

    44% income tax? - is it really worth moving your family to Geneva for 6%?

    ...and am I right in thinking that there is no NHS or dole in Switzerland, so that extra % will be taken up by the additional costs of moving to a more privately funded country?

    ...still - with the 'mathematical genius's' in banking - I'm sure they will forget to include that in their analysis and still think they're better off abroad.

    ...the sad part is I was hoping to see bankers leaving in their droves so we can reverse the trend of years of immigration in this country by seeing an increase in the number of 'skilled useful' people coming in and a corresponding increase in the number of 'wealthy idiots' leaving.

    Bankers - you cannot rely on them for anything.

  • Comment number 27.

    Letting the FS industry carry on as before was critical to generating tax returns this year. I said as much way back. A hard dry crust to chew though.

    What has been missing though is significant progress in this country to firstly put in place better controls that mitigate the effect of international banking loan/risk offset schemes whilst preserving the attractiveness of the UK for these activities, and secondly to diversify the economy to provide a better balance wrt the FS level of contribution.

    Unfortunately in order to appease the masses the government has resorted to sound byte policies, which will force migration of some FS companies to other economies/tax havens before we have in place the means to generate income from other sources. Stupid. There should have been a medium term carrot dangled behind the taxation stick. Whether you like it or not too many basic jobs depend highly on the cash flows generated by FS.

    As to the second point, the UK continues to be expensive for many economic activities. There are a number of fundamentals driving this, and the cost of labour is one of them. What is it that makes UK labour so expensive? A combination of archaic taxation and benefits systems plus high basic costs for shelter, fuel and infrastructure and transport. There are also some archaic labour practices around but these are small scale compared to 20 years ago. We also have a very high cost of government, but it is so interwoven that working out what can be stripped out and what constitutes fundamental services is messy. Sacred cows do not help. Nor does the fact that in a major crisis party political considerations have come above the good of the country.

    So whilst I am pleased to see a short term tax gain, I am less confident that we are ensuring that the underlying economic foundations are being shored up properly

  • Comment number 28.

    Bankers-shmankers. Yawn!!!
    There's more to economy than finance, Robert.

  • Comment number 29.

    Robert, what you seem to be hinting at it as follows.

    1) Alistair Darling says the tax will raise GBP 550 million.
    2) The general public say "hurrah" as he is bashing the bankers.
    3) A few chosen bankers come on the tv and in the press moaning about it all using well worn phrases such as "needing to pay the talent", "brain drain", "long term damage to the UK economy" and the like which reinforces point 2. I'm just amazed I haven't heard the phrase "thin end of the wedge" as this would complete the pantomime performance of it all.
    4) The banks pay it anyway rather than the staff as they don't want to lose out on the huge fees from government debt issues in the next few years and from sales of gilts as part of QE plus any future government sell offs.
    5) Mysteriously the amount raised will exceed the GBP 550 million by several times allowing Gordon and Alistair to hail the "robustness of the UK economy and the recovery" just before the election is called.

    No doubt Gordon and Alistair will claim the benefit of 5 as a result of their actions.

    Cynical? Moi!

  • Comment number 30.

    #5 Major Plonquer

    You're welcome to them!

    Sadly it doesn't take much to work out why they won't be "touching China with a barge-pole!"

    But if you really believe they would advance China's middle-classes IN THE LONG RUN, all I can ask is what planet have you been on for the last two years?

  • Comment number 31.

    Happy New Year Mr Peston !

    Today's Blog and the BBC Breakfast News this morning : Your untitled pic of a building which seems vaguely familiar to matched by the lack of name of the banker interviewed on the BBC News this morning.

    Perhaps tomorrow the BBC will interview an anonymous person X from the untitled Building Y ?

    It is only rarely Sir that I think you could do better. Name names, name buildings, and predict the next winner of Strictly !

    PS Only joking about naming names. You could surely NOT start with the Head of the Border Agency....Her salary, appointment process, etc etc. And surely you should NOT explain how her appointment helps the National Debt ?

  • Comment number 32.

    'I should also point out that the anger about the tax among bankers is still rising - which they won't forget (they say) next time their organisations have decisions to make about where to base a new office or new business.'

    SUCH arrogance, get them on the TV - question time and lets see their anger in the face of the people and society they almost ruined.

    Let me tell you something about one bank - Nandan Pruthi - the alleged multimillion Ponzi scammer used HSBC - it seems no one thought to check his activity or past. Millions of other peoples money fraudulently banked - no banker thought it might be a good idea to contact the police or FSA. It was only when 'interest payments' stopped in late 2008 that those involved contacted the FSA. The 'scam' had been going for at least a year perhaps the best part of two. This is information made public by the courts by the way.

    No, a lot of people 'wont forget' how banks have behaved.

    WELL ?

    And how much are we paying you Robert ?

    And now we see the BBC are in business - brilliant they have proved our case that well - so we don't need a license - well done. Do let us know when it will stop leaching off us now that they have 4.6 billion profit if not will we be getting interest payments ?

  • Comment number 33.

    "I should also point out that the anger about the tax among bankers is still rising - which they won't forget (they say) next time their organisations have decisions to make about where to base a new office or new business."

    Yet again the bankers are determined to earn the epithet stupid. The country would be better off without these stupid bankers.

  • Comment number 34.

    so they may end up with a few billion in extra taxes mmm let me see , on the telly box this morning the little guy who did the explaining for Alistair said that they would through reclaiming tax from tax avoidance by the people who bank offshore would create a couple of billion too , when it was pointed out that it was 2% of the estimated amount of avoidance by the Treasury , they claimed it was an early estimate.

    So two questions , if they are holding back the good news, will they announce 100 billion income from tax avoidance by firms and people using slick means to avoid paying tax ?

    Is the few billion that they are reporting they will get from GS et al a good deal compared to the trillions lost and the very reason we are in this mess world wide caused by these very same firms taking the rules to the very edge and beyond with their financial weapons of destruction

  • Comment number 35.

    ....and once again the laaw shows who's side it's on.

    Despite this loophole being abused by unscrupilous companies - it still beggars belief that I have to keep the original records of my deeds, my driving license, my insurance certificate for proof of no-claims (copies not allowed) - and yet a bank can destroy original agreements and still enforce the debt.

    The battle lines are being drawn - the sides are being chosen, it really is man against the system as all the elements of the system gather together to present a united front.

    ...but they underestimate the power of man fighting for his liberty...

  • Comment number 36.

    27. At 10:20am on 04 Jan 2010, p45builder

    .....still blaming the regulators for the banking crisis?

    Do criminals have a case for blaming the police for their crimes? (see my post @26)

    If you think the solution to this problem is to allow the FS industry to simply 'get on with it' - then you are either sadly mistaken, or you have a vested interest (you work in the industry).

    It was 'letting them get on with it' under Thatcher which caused the boom and subsequent bust in 1990 - and it was Brown 'letting them get on with it' which caused the boom and subsequent bust of 2008.

    ...and your solution is more of the same?

  • Comment number 37.

    Perhaps it should be explained to our banking friends that it is either a tax on bonuses or its heads on poles. The City does not know how angry the rest of the country feel about their destructive behaviour. Perhaps if they escaped from the Central London bubble and looked about them and saw the ruin they have brought on so many innocents they might just start to feel ashamed. Their continued greed and cynicism is unforgiveable.

    Cosmopolitan? My foot!

  • Comment number 38.

    37. At 11:07am on 04 Jan 2010, stanilic

    How do bankers do it? - ignorance is bliss.

    If it's not blindingly obvious to anyone yet - the bankers don't understand how they fit into the big picture - all they know is their section at their level.

    The total consequences of their combined actions are only fully realised by those they affect - the businesses and homeowners now trying to swim in a choppy sea totally devoid of the debt life-raft.

    They themselves are detached - alienated from the consequences - much as Marx described...

    ...this is how they managed to pay themselves without considering why they are supposedly worth so much - now they are struggling for suggestions as to why they're worth it.

    So come on bankers - prove to us you're worth it - explain clearly how you managed to produce 300 times the average worker last year without getting off your backside?

    Working long hours is not unique to the city of London you know - you might think 7-7 with a 2 hour lunch is hard work, but I know many people up and down this country working the same hours with hard labour involved for a tiny fraction of the reward.

    ....are you saying you're more productive than they are? - fancy putting it to the test?

    Silence is what you will hear from the bankers - hiding in their ivory towers hoping this will all blow away......

    ....unfortunately we're moving into the next stage of the crisis - the crisis of sovereign debt. Don't be surprised if the Icelanders decide not to pay us back after we treated them like terrorists.

  • Comment number 39.

    11 Dempster....

    We absolutely don't need state banks.

    The consequences (unintended by you) of such a system would be just as catastrophic, and would permanently lower growth levels, and transform us into a Soviet style economy. (Just think of the best way to get yourself a bank loan..... to curry favour with someone in government i.e. your bank manager!..... and where this would lead us?).

    We just need to make the present system more transparent, open, and distinct, and, through legislation, ensure that the money-changers themselves personally face something rather more complicated than a one-way bet.

    This means:
    a. changing the banking structure (i.e. split the casinos - and don't let them call themselves banks! - from commercial banks.... Quick question here.... why should any organisation with a banking license be allowed to do any proprietary trading whatsoever?). Maybe, as Roger Bootle is thinking, we should go much further and also split the casino banks up, so the risks applying to each part of their operations become much more distinct, so the market can properly value them (... and maybe so information they glean on their mergers and acquisitions work does not, um, get used immediately in their dealing room?).
    b. vastly increasing disclosure requirements for any organisation dealing in monetary instruments only (the further amount of disclosure we need here will in fact reduce the more we split financial organisations up into smaller bits, but nevertheless the case for better information in the marketplace on the lot of them is unarguable).
    c. new legislation applying to all financial instruments (quite apart from a Tobin tax, there are some interesting ideas in circulation.... e.g. preventing dividends being paid on a share unless it has been held for a certain period and other restrictions on high frequency trading)
    d. new laws applying to any financial only company - for example here, applying much lower 'market share tests' when determining monopolistic behaviour in a market place. The hurdle in any normal market seems to be about 25% - in financial products, perhaps it should be 10%. (i.e. the Lloyds takeover of HBOS absolutely cannot be allowed to stand).
    e. new legislation on fixed/variable compensation (once banks are separated from the casinos, there should be no case for any bonus exceeding 10% of salary here anyway, but for the remaining gamblers we really do need a way of producing a downside to employees when things go wrong - bonuses via shares is already a good one).

  • Comment number 40.

    #36 WOTW

    Read the post before you post.

  • Comment number 41.

    Any banker stupid enough to let himself get caught paying that one-off tax would probably be fired on the grounds of gross incompetence. It's all populist nonsense. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 42.

    Good news, provided:
    1: it actually happens which seems far from certain, sure the banks tax evasion/avoidance departments will be working overtime to minimise their liabilities.

    2: Darling and co finding some extra cash in the pot don't decide to blow it on a pre-election spending splurge ('well it's extra we did not expect so we can spend it rather than minimise our borrowing can't we')

    Also Robert, 'proudly cosmopolitan types'? If they are here solely because they can earn vast sums and have heretofore been beneficiaries of a ineffective, lax regulation system and easily subverted and avoided/evaded tax system then perhaps the better descriptors would have been 'selfish and greedy'.
    It doesn't sound so nice as 'proudly cosmopolitan' but it is more accurate descriptor of their reasons for being here in the first place.

  • Comment number 43.

    #35 writingsonthewall wrote:

    ....and once again the law shows whose side it's on.

    Despite this loophole being abused by unscrupulous companies - it still beggars belief that I have to keep the original records of my deeds, my driving license, my insurance certificate for proof of no-claims (copies not allowed) - and yet a bank can destroy original agreements and still enforce the debt.


    Did you not notice anything about the judge who found in favour of the banks? (conveniently on the 31st Dec '09 'a good day to bury bad' news I might add)

    Here's a clue...he is a trustee of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, which represents 'UK Jewry’s commitment to Israel and the Jewish people'.

    jaded-jean was censored by the BBC for political reasons (merely telling the truth is just not good enough...don't you know!).

  • Comment number 44.

    £500m per bank!!

    Wow.. that's many, many, many times more than the Govt have ever invested in new energy tech R&D and of course beats by a huge margin the amounts invested by so called VCs..

    So here's an idea..... Don't give it to the Govt give it to some small venture fund and one preferably that isn't by beancounters or lawyers but people that actually understand markets and technology.

  • Comment number 45.

    39. At 11:29am on 04 Jan 2010, Noideaatall wrote:

    "The consequences (unintended by you) of such a system would be just as catastrophic, and would permanently lower growth levels, and transform us into a Soviet style economy. (Just think of the best way to get yourself a bank loan..... to curry favour with someone in government i.e. your bank manager!..... and where this would lead us?)."

    ....and how do you obtain a loan at the moment? based on your credit record / history (which may or may not be accurate - a human enters the information remember) and the risk appettite of the baking system combine to make the decision of whether you're worthy or not, or best of all their interpretation of whether or not they will profit from the deal.

    So 2 criteria - one of which you can do nothing about (the appettite for risk) - and you think this is better than currying favour with a beaurocrat?

    It may seem like hobson's choice, but I'll take the beaurocrat over the self appointed "I'm so clever but can't explain why" banker any day of the week.

    At least if the Beaurocrat denies me unfairly I can complain to his boss (my MP) - what do you do when the bank manager decides unfairly against you - the Ombudsman? - don't make me laugh.

    What you (and many others) seem to have failed to grasp is that the reason we're in such a environmental mess is because there is no profit in saving the environment

    ....which is why we don't have a real drive for renewable energy in this country - except by taxation which comes from a Government nobody trusts will actually end up supporting the green industries.

    seeds of our own destruction - the resource allocation (which is what banks do) is assessed by which ideas will produce the most paper profit - not on what is good for society in the long term, or what is critical for the human race.

  • Comment number 46.


    Since the tax is levied on the company and not the individual they don't even need a brain to avoid it.

  • Comment number 47.

    #44 Wee-scamp

    Such an approach is worthy and efficient but takes away control by Big G so its not going to get past the political post. Unfortunately.

    This sort of internal investment, with its potential for high returns, could have been used as the carrot after the stick. UK alternate energy provision needs x10 what it gets right now and its already relocating to favourable countries faster than greedy bankers......

    could have been a win-win

  • Comment number 48.

    As already pointed out these bonuses would have attracted a 40% tax without the new rule so the increase is only 10% on top of that. That makes the government estimate of 550 million look pretty accurate, does it not?

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm not a banker but as other people say, I suspect these knee-jerk reactions will cause adverse effects; just as when Brown grabbed money from Oil companies earlier in his term and in effect stopped future development of North sea oil, destroying many jobs in Scotland and making the UK more dependent on foreign oil, gas and energy. If you tax excessively people and companies just move elsewhere and in the end you just make UK even poorer. We need to focus and develop growth opportunities with those countries that are growing positively i.e. Asia, India, China, etc.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm with Dempster and co. The control of the money supply must be taken out of the hands the private profiteers and banksters and returned to the people where it rightly belongs.

  • Comment number 51.

    #45. writingsonthewall wrote:

    "we're in such a environmental mess is because there is no profit in saving the environment"

    See Carbon Credit's Trading....

    The pity is that CO2 Credit Trading is managing the wrong thing (CO2) to have any effect on Climate Change - BUT it is(/was) a market profit taking (stealing!) mechanism.

    The challenge is to construct profit making mechanisms that actually work!

    (I do however concede that there may be no possible market/trading mechanisms - and that it may be that market/trading mechanisms ONLY can exploit our planet and thus destroy our planet!)

  • Comment number 52.

    43. At 11:48am on 04 Jan 2010, DebtJuggler wrote:

    Did you not notice anything about the judge who found in favour of the banks? (conveniently on the 31st Dec '09 'a good day to bury bad' news I might add)

    Here's a clue...he is a trustee of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, which represents 'UK Jewry’s commitment to Israel and the Jewish people'.

    Spare you keyboard, this forum does not believe in conspiracy theory.
    It's all scientific, you know?

    The British people are sleeping on the wheel!

  • Comment number 53.

    It was interesting to read that 90% of JP Morgan's "big profit generators" are non brits, i suspect this is why the 40% tax band may be fairly insignificant as most were not planning to pay uk tax. imo this still boils down to the following questions

    1) where do banks add value, why do we still talk of vast sums "generated and earned in the city.

    2) imo, almost more importantly, what are benefits / costs of having banks in the UK as opposed to other countries

    3) are our controls over banks effectively futile if other counties will entice global banks by being less strict.

    4) could the UK stand alone if their were another global meltdown, particuly without a state run bank

    5) equality for all in suffering the tax burden. imo 50% tax rates for earnings over say £100k or £150k don't seem unfair. especially seeing as its the taxpayers money being pumped into the economy which made making profit in 2009 extremely easy.

    I'm very worried that the whole credit crisis is being belittled into arguments that our particular bank didn't receive direct government support. If the banks soon go back to their old ways the next credit crunch will be a lot shorter than the 80 odd years between 1929 and 2008

  • Comment number 54.

    Id like to make another point about the Pruthi case . The FSA froze accounts by CONSENT Then Pruthi went round telling those he scammed that his hands were tied and there was nothing he could do about payments. Tell me how crazy is that ?

    This is all public, again.

  • Comment number 55.

    40. At 11:33am on 04 Jan 2010, p45builder wrote:

    "Read the post before you post."

    I did - you stated that the FS industry is vital to Britain and that regulation is the best form of prevention.

    I said it isn't - and it and it won't be.

    You also claimed that the only way out is 'more of the same' - and I said it's not.

    If you can counter this argument then I'm all ears...

  • Comment number 56.

    Perhaps, everyone has heard today that they have complete the world's tallest building in Dubai. But what the BBC fails to analyse is that completion of such skyscrapers always coincides with the end of economic cycles.

    The Empire State Building was completed in 1931, coinciding with the Great Depression. World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972 coinciding with the Oil crisis in 1973.

    They stand as memorials of people's greed and sick ambitions.

  • Comment number 57.

    39. At 11:29am on 04 Jan 2010, Noideaatall wrote:
    'We absolutely don't need state banks'

    Well that's an interesting point. You see when I think where private banking has actually got us, I have to include the following:

    Promises of :
    High returns from endowment policies.
    Private pensions which will actually fund you in your retirement.
    Payment protection insurance, which actually works.
    Bank charges which are fair.

    And then I have to consider:
    Self Certification mortgages and other hopelessly ridiculous loan to income mortgages.

    The damage to society and not least the young that repossession and destitution causes. Millions unemployed and the desperate financial plight of those caught up in the same.

    And finally I have to contend with:
    Huge bonus payments taken from banks based on hopelessly over-valued assets, which ultimately caused the enormous loss and the tax payer bailout.

    Banking should be banking.

    Once it becomes selling to the general public financial products that are wholly flawed, and when the business of banking is so negligently operated that it causes misery, unemployment and destitution for millions; then I feel myself drawn to the belief that it should be state run.

    Here’s an example which to be fair I’ve posted before:

    The average cost of heart by pass surgery in the UK is around £20,000.
    The RBS bonus payments are £1,500,000,000.
    The RBS directors do not want to give this money back to the Government, they want to pay it out in bonus payments to themselves.
    £1,500,000,000 (£1.5 billion) = 75,000 peoples lives.

    And even if that doesn’t wake you up, how about NHS dentistry, or more to the point what’s left of it. To those who can no longer obtain dental treatment on the NHS, well you could if they didn’t pay out a £1.5 billion bonus at The RBS.

    In any event I apologise for being a bit pedantic.

  • Comment number 58.

    one coco full basket*
    *= fill your shopping basket one item at a time.

    One One Cocoa (*)
    (*)=Gregory Isaacs

    take it easy

  • Comment number 59.

    'Wan Wan coco full baskit" - The basket can be filled by adding one coco at a time.
    You may not be able to put in all at the same time. (Coco is an edible tuber which helps
    to give body to a good pot of soup). Do not expect to achieve success overnight.

  • Comment number 60.

    52. At 12:58pm on 04 Jan 2010, plamski wrote:

    "Spare you keyboard, this forum does not believe in conspiracy theory.
    It's all scientific, you know?"

    It's not conspiracy theory you need to believe, it's conspiracy fact which people cannot grasp.

    We can pontificate all day about the 'dark forces' behind Capitalism, but you will find that it's all of us - our attitude formed through the self interest required in order to survive within this system.

    Banks are the leaders in this field, even if you skip over the current cases where the law has sided with the banks to protect their ficticious profit making (or as the unexplained but heavily used 'wealth generation') - credit cards, bank charges - there was another recent story where banks now feel cheques are no longer required and will phase them out.

    Once again we are being told that we don't need them, but the phasing out of cheques is simply for banks to save money (because handwritten cheques have to be verified by a human being, a machine cannot do it) - and it's claimed this is somehow for our benefit.

    One of the big issues is security, whilts I have never been cloned by a cheque I wrote - my card has been cloned several times - much to my inconvenience. This story is further proof (if you needed it) that the banks tell the Government anything to get what they want as only 2 weeks ago they were lauding about the increased security of a chip and pin (through their PR company the BBC - the British Banking Consortium and not the BBC!) when questioned about the phasing out of cheques.

    Any bells ringing? Regulation of the financial industry and why it can never work perhaps?.....

    Don't be a mug - how many times do they think they can they make a fool out of us and get away with it?

  • Comment number 61.

    52. At 12:58pm on 04 Jan 2010, plamski wrote:

    We can pontificate all day about the 'dark forces' behind Capitalism, but you will find that it's all of us - our attitude formed through the self interest required in order to survive within this system.

    WOTW, please tell me, I read this wrongly, because I do not believe you'd imply that people are to blame for trying to survive within this system.

    It's NOT our fault. People's self-interest attitude is constantly being formed by the media propaganda which exploits our natural inclination to copy other people's actions and lifestyle. The media in turn is controlled by the financial class.

    It's NOT bankers' fault eitherWe can blame ordinary bankers and THEIR attitude all day long here but the REAL problem here is that the whole foundation of the financial system is wrong.

    FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING triggers the cycles of boom and bust.

  • Comment number 62.

    57. At 1:45pm on 04 Jan 2010, Dempster wrote:

    "39. At 11:29am on 04 Jan 2010, Noideaatall wrote:
    'We absolutely don't need state banks'"

    You see Dempster, what Noideaatall has not considered is what banking actually is.

    It's an admission that the worker / business owner / entrepenuer is not responsible enough to ensure that his idea for production is worthwhile doing.

    Instead this responsibility is handed to the banker - who decides for them. it's a shame really because most bankers don't understand the business they are assessing for the loan (as most small business owners will know only too well).

    Considering Government is propping up the banking system - we already have state banking it's just that nobody has told the bankers yet - they actually believe they're making money!!!!!

    So considering banking only performs the function of resource allocation, and that it does not have the width and breadth of skills required for the job (I mean they just messed it up big time) - then the question should be "Why did we bother having a private banking system in the first place?"

    The only thing which keeps the hoardes from the door of the bank are the millions of Acronyms the banking system uses to confuse the general public to give themselves an air of skill.

    IT did this very well through the 80's - but now that everyone knows how IT works (even my old Ma) the game is up and now longer can you suggest your supreme knowledge with a few well placed acronyms. Everyone knows what an IP address, HTML, ASP, Java and VOIP are / is now and the same is happening to banking.

    I mean if I told you I had dealt 300 CDO's a couple of years ago you wouldn't know what I was on about - now I bet you could explain them better than I could - and more importantly explain the problems and risks inherent with them. Only a 'man on the street' would have asked the obvious question about the CDO - all the bankers followed into the pen like the sheep they are, encouraged by the great profits for little (supposed) risk on offer.

    Resources should be allocated by need and not the possibility of making a paper profit in the short term

    This is the absolute opposite of how our private banking system works.

  • Comment number 63.

    I've posted this before (apologies) but it demonstrates categorically the utter greed and corruption of the banking elite. This is on the cards at RBS - after the departure of Fred Goodwin - so clearly no great change of heart there then.


    RBS are claiming they made £6 billion in profits this year. Consequently they are awarding themselves bonuses of £1.5 billion.

    In reality RBS 'achieved' this profit by changing the way they present their accounts.

    Following last years £41 billion loss and £37 billion tax payer bail out, RBS decided to split their accounts and report their loss making business under a new "non-core" activities headline. The safe, profit making element of RBS is reported under a new "core" activities headline.

    Actual results for first three quarters this year:

    Core: £7.4 billion profit

    Non-core: £12.3 billion loss

    Current 'profit' to date: £4.9 billion LOSS

    In other words, RBS, 85% owned and paid for by our taxes and still seriously in the red is getting ready to pay themselves £1.5 billion in bonuses for a £4.9 billion loss. No wonder they look a bit smug.

    We are being taken for idiots by these people who believe themselves above the law. How can they seriously pretend that all their over-leveraged high-risk, high-profit (pre-bubble burst) schemes were ever anything except "core" to their business model?

    This is creative accounting of the worst kind. I want to see prosecutions - I want to hear from Brown and Darling why they think these criminals should be paid billions off our backs for years to come so they can live in the lap of luxury and watch society - our schools, hospitals and homes - burn to the ground outside their exclusive gated-developments.

  • Comment number 64.

    60 writingsonthewall

    I used to be a complete sceptic on the conspiracy theory front but then stuff keeps coming out of the woodwork.

    For example, I recently learnt that our glorious new (but unelected) President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, is a member of the Bilderberg Group, 'an unofficial, annual, invitation-only conference of around 130 guests, most of whom are persons of great influence in the fields of politics, business, banking, and media. Each conference is under intense secrecy and security... A 2008 press release from the American Friends of Bilderberg stated that "Bilderberg's only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued"'

    Maybe they just like each other's company...

    And as for chip and pin... The day those came out I knew they would be wide open to abuse - they are exteremely vulnerable to "man-in-the-middle" recording devices installed by less scrupulous staff. The modern devices are USB - not exactly difficult to daisychain at the start of a shift and remove at the end. Its is harder to guess a PIN than to forge a signature, but if you know the PIN for a lot of cards, it is very easy to carry out massive fraud with little chance of detection. Just add a small additional cash withdrawl to each statement - easily missed - and easier than forging thousands of signatures. For comparison, one of the most successful malicious programs of the 90's checked if "microsoft money" was installed on the target pc, and if present, set up a small monthly debit of a @ £0.50 marked 'interest' - all sent to the account of the group behind the program in Germany.

  • Comment number 65.

    Surely the 50 percent rate is only ten percent more than they would have paid anyway ?

    And thus the Mathematics might need checking.

    Now, why is Inflationary 150 percent pay rises at Barclays not receiving more attention ?

    Of course if every Public Sector worker had their pay doubled (only 100 percent, not as much as Barclays) that would give the whole economy a wonderful boost and raise Tax revenue. Of course the rest of the private sector would follow suit and the debt burden would halve.

  • Comment number 66.

    62. At 2:13pm on 04 Jan 2010, writingsonthewall
    I agree with you.

    My personal experience has been the end product of financial mis-selling, in essence the misery and destitution side of it.

    One thing that has never ceased to surprise me is why rising house prices are heralded as a good thing. I mean you wouldn’t trumpet rising water or food prices as a good thing would you.

    And the only reason they rise as far as I can see is the ever increasing amount of debt people take on.

    The only people that seem to benefit are those in the business of money creation.

  • Comment number 67.

    All these arguments as to how much it costs are very simplistic and do not appear to have any grasp of how the tax works as evidenced by the comment that, they would be paying 40% and are now paying 50%, so isn't it only 10%? Even you Robert appear to have missed some of the fundamentals.

    If the pot is $2bn the tax will be $1bn. The bankers get $2bn and assuming they pay tax at 40% that's a further $800m in tax making $1.8bn out of the $3bn cash needed. However, the $1bn extra is a tax and will be presumably deductible for corporation tax purposes and therefore the profits will be down by $1bn and corporation tax down by $280m. Therefore the $1bn becomes $720m. No doubt there are other factors to be taken into account but sticking your finger in the air shouldn't be one of them or the basis for an argument.

    Furthermore (and I haven't looked at the tax in detail), I think it applies to bonuses that are paid this year therefore by delaying to the next tax year the tax is "avoided" but the recipients are taxed at 50% not 40% (because it doesn't go up until April). Maybe if that happens you get your £550m; who knows?

    The problem with the world these days (and it is one manufactured by New Labour) is that most people mistake information for analysis. More analysis please Robert at the moment we are getting too much wrong information.

  • Comment number 68.

    How many bankers does this "super" (sic) tax affect - 10,000? Less??

    How many people have lost their jobs over the credit crunch in the UK alone - 500,000? A million?

    No-one in everyday life really cares about those paying 50% tax on their bonuses. The vast majority of workers here are lucky to earn 25k, let alone dream of having a bonus of such an amount - and for what, helping to fleece shareholders, deplete banks' capital, and bringing the banking system to near total collapse? It's utterly risible that this is even being discussed as an apparent problem.

    They of course will not be going abroad to live in sunny Geneva or on the white beaches of the British Virgin Islands. Those that could have already done so, years ago. The fact is most would be pulling their hair out in boredom within a month, and this stupid government still permits tax avoidance aplenty to go on under its nose - so there's still no incentive to leave London.

  • Comment number 69.

    66 Dempster
    62 writingsonthewall

    You get my vote - house price rises are just "paper profits" that disappear when the bubble bursts - the debt, however, remains. Housing bubbles just enslave those taken in by them to years of passing the fruits of their labour to the corrupt peddlers of debt as "equity release". There's no equity in your home til you've paid for it, just a number that goes up and down.

  • Comment number 70.

    66. At 2:38pm on 04 Jan 2010, Dempster wrote:
    One thing that has never ceased to surprise me is why rising house prices are heralded as a good thing. I mean you wouldn’t trumpet rising water or food prices as a good thing would you.

    Dempster, isn't that obvious? The houses are the illusion that makes people believe they are rich. My house is worth £450,000 and if I sold it today I'd make £100,000 profit. Hooray! Why do you think, we are called homeowners even in the beginning of the mortgage period.

    The BBC keep trumpeting about how the house priced increased by 5.9% in 2009, it's all in order to keep the social order.

    Panem et Circenses

  • Comment number 71.

    Regulation doesn't work wrt governing the financial system...especially considering the banks.

    This was realised by Messrs Glass and Steagall in the US after the last Great Depression; hence their proposal and enactment of the Act named after them, the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933. After the Glass-Steagall law was repealed by Clinton's government the banks in the US knew that the banking system would ultimately be bailed out by the taxpayers (with possibly one or two sacrifices along the way). The primary reason cited for the Acts repeal was to maintain US competitiveness with London.

    Separating the retail/simple deposit taking arm of the banks from the casino/proprietry trading arms of said banks, BY LAW, is the only way forward.

    BTW - The Act has influenced the financial systems of other areas such as China, which maintains a separation between commercial banking and the securities industries. In the aftermath of the financial panic of 2008–9, support for maintaining China's separation of investment and commercial banking remains strong.

  • Comment number 72.

    I've been relatively pro-banker during this mess and pointed out that the individual members of the public who maxed our their credit cards buying trash they didn't need and who took out 110% morgages to buy over-priced homes should take some of the blame for the credit crunch too. However the comment "I should also point out that the anger about the tax among bankers is still rising - which they won't forget (they say) next time their organisations have decisions to make about where to base a new office or new business." really annoys me. Perhaps when the banks come to relocate their offices they may also wish to consider which nation massively underwrote their losses and kept their businesses afloat as well as hitting them with big taxes on their profits.

    #65. "supercalmdown wrote:

    Surely the 50 percent rate is only ten percent more than they would have paid anyway ? And thus the Mathematics might need checking."

    My understanding (and correct me if I'm wrong) is that the BANKS themselves are being hit with the 50% tax on the total bonus they pay then the individual bankers will still have to pay 40% income tax etc individually, so if bank X pays a banker £1M in bonuses, the bank will pay £500,000 in one-off bonus tax then then the banker with pay £400,000 income tax on his £1M bonus netting the treasury about £900,000 from each £1M.

    However "Of course if every Public Sector worker had their pay doubled (only 100 percent, not as much as Barclays) that would give the whole economy a wonderful boost and raise Tax revenue. Of course the rest of the private sector would follow suit and the debt burden would halve" is madness.

    To boost the pay of every public sector employee by 100% (and this would mean paying GP's on £100,000 £200,000 instead) would mean that everyone would be hit by massive tax increases to fund the pay rises of a small percentage of the population. Personally I would rather not see the tax bill on my £29,000 salary massively increase in order to pay my bin man £50,000 a year. Any increased spending by my bin man is going to be offset by decreased spending by me.

  • Comment number 73.

    63: These Investment Bankers believe they can play with the nature of financial reality, changing the World to suit themselves, with no other side effect than offending some peasants.

    They don't seem to realise that their ride is over, and the Piper is quietly awaiting payment, with Interest, compounded on a daily rate.

    Of course, most problems in this world are caused by fear.
    The Investment Bankers are full of fear and anxiety, the only way they can hold back their Dark is through possessions, money, big houses, fast cars, drink , drugs, more extreme experiences etc, etc.
    But that is not the way to deal with the shadows in their lives, like the little kid scared of the monster in the cupboard, until it is overcome, it is always there, just waiting for them to close their eyes.

    I quite enjoyed A Christmas Carol, it hits near the truth with folks fashioning the chains of their afterlife with the follies they indulge in life.

    But then existence isn't perfect, nothing is actually perfect, but people seem hell bent on making their worlds a worse place to live in.
    Every act of selfishness, every act of hate, every petty act of aggression, darkens the Sun that bit more.

    A long time ago someone gave me a very unhelpful piece of advice, the World is what you make it they said.

    Well, in actuality the World is what we all make it.

    These Investment Bankers wish to have their little piece of Heaven on Earth, at the price of pushing everyone else that little nearer to Hell.

    It is the same with many Politicians and extremists. They wish to agrandize themselves, trying to beat back their fear with grand titles and holy wars. Terrorists do not serve any God, they serve merely the hatred and fear of men. Any God who wished to inflict punishment would not need to employ Men with explosives, (though Volcano's do have a certain Shock and Awe factor, and I suppose a Volcano would count as a spectacular explosive).

    Another old saying, misinterpreted, God helps those who help themselves.
    Probably said quite a lot by Bankers helping themselves to lots of bail out money and shareholders funds.

    What is really meant by that, is very simply, the Gods are not there to run around after Humans. They are not there to give you Lottery wins and happily ever afters. They've got their Jobs to do, and occasionally look in and tut alot, but if you want a better World you all have to prove yourselves worthy.

    That won't happen by praying or by blowing other people up but by hard work.
    The World can be a better place, but people have to make it so.

  • Comment number 74.

    9. At 08:38am on 04 Jan 2010, AqualungCumbria wrote:

    "My take on this will be yes we get a windfall but !!! i can guarantee the long term effect will be a loss to the UK finances,they wont get bitten twice,and will move elsewhere."

    Then they must hope that the countries they move to are as willing to step in and bail them out next time they screw up. Otherwise they may find it's more than a few percent of their bonuses that they lose in future (and there will be a next time).

    These bankers have enjoyed job-saving protection by being in the UK and this could not have been provided by many of the countries they are targeting with a view to relocation. Swiss GDP is $488 billion (2008). Monaco comes in at a mere $870 million (est.). The official (arguably conservative) cost of the recent bank bailout in the UK is around $1.380 trillon.

    It is worth noting that, far from being hostile to banks, the UK has provided one of the most generous bank bailout packages.

    Of course, they could move to some of the UK's larger competitors but they may find the tax savings don't really justify the effort – especially since France has now joined the UK in levying a one off supertax on banking bonuses and it is calling for other nations to follow suit. And you would have to question whether other major countries — that have had sizable bank bailout bills of their own as it is — could or would bear additional burden in similar circumstances in the future should any such UK exodus be substantial and permanent.

    In spite of the public griping (which is to be expected), the bankers that don't see a few $bn in one-off taxes as a small price to pay ought to sharpen their arithmetic.

  • Comment number 75.

    It looks as if the bonus tax was an even better idea than we thought.

    We are always being told that a higher income tax rate would not work, and that corporation tax must be kept low. Personally I have never believed these paradoxes, but maybe a bonus tax applied universally, is a way of making high earners and wealthy corporations pay a fairer share of taxation.

  • Comment number 76.

    43. At 11:48am on 04 Jan 2010, DebtJuggler wrote:

    Did you not notice anything about the judge who found in favour of the banks?...

    Here's a clue...he is a trustee of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, which represents 'UK Jewry’s commitment to Israel and the Jewish people'.

    - - -

    Err... and your point is? Why would you not expect some Jewish people in the UK to support Israel and the Jewish people? And what does this have to do with bank overdraft charges?

    If you had an intelligent point you'd have made it, rather than insinuating some tired, demi-brained anti-semitic conspiracy theory.

    On the whole I think people are a bit too quick to pile in with accusations of anti-semitism but when I read your kind of nonsense I can see why they're edgy.

    And, before you ask, no, I'm not Jewish.

  • Comment number 77.

    > The tax may be their just desert for their role in helping to
    > cause the global financial crisis. That's certainly how
    > millions of citizens see the impost. But no turkey ever helped
    > to turn the oven on, come Christmas morning.

    That may be true, but it's January now, and thier goose is
    cooked. They live here on our terms, and money-counters can be
    replaced in 5 minutes.

  • Comment number 78.

    #76 Well said! I'm sick of the anti-semitic nutters that fill these forums (and I'm not Jewish either... in fact my grandfather was quite badly burnt during the King David Hotel bombing). Frankly a judge finding in favour of the banks who had an enormous mortage from those same banks would be a much more interesting conspiracy. Post #43 makes about as much sense as 'Mein Kampfs' claim that Jews used the banks to turn the world communist (which really happened......) Israel stands to gain far more from a rich USA and stable, profitable banking system in order to ensure a nice steady flow of military aid from the US. The Arabs have oil (which is liquid money) THEY suffer far less when the banks have a wobble than Israel does.

  • Comment number 79.

    78. At 3:59pm on 04 Jan 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    #76 Well said! I'm sick of the anti-semitic nutters that fill these forums (and I'm not Jewish either... in fact my grandfather was quite badly burnt during the King David Hotel bombing).

    Antisemitism means hostility towards Jews, which frankly I doubt anyone here feels that way. I, for one, even respect the ordinary Jewish people, for their efforts to preserve family traditions and their community in this modern world.

    The point is that there's a clan of people HERE in the UK, who work and lobby to maintain the status-quo of the current financial system.

    How otherwise would you explain the government's decision to bail-out the banks?

    There's no need to get over-excited with references about Israel, Arabs. etc.

  • Comment number 80.

    21. At 09:57am on 04 Jan 2010, ArnoldThePenguin wrote:
    ‘Stories like this make me think we should have let the banks fail’

    I agree, they should have been put into pre-packaged bankruptcy, protecting conventional retail deposits, and personal/business accounts. The £600 billion they borrowed from the money markets would have had to wait and see what was left.

    That would have made a few investment organisations eyes water a little I suspect.

  • Comment number 81.


    So you think its perfectly reasonable for a bank to be able to enforce a loan agreement without a legally binding document signed by the debtor?

    Are you mental or something?

  • Comment number 82.


    When you are being pedantic, make sure you are right! "just deserts" is the correct spelling.

    On bonus tax - Great the more tax on bankers the merrier :)

    Happy new year banksters. Our time has come. This is your just desert!

  • Comment number 83.

    The proof of the connection between International Socialism, Jewry and banking (along with a few useful idiots) was conclusively established only after the 2nd WW.

    ‘The Neocons - An Illustrated Progression’

    'Judge' these people not by what they say...but by what they do!

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 43 -- what does the judge's religion or support for religious groups have to do with the debate at hand? A transparent and shameful case of anti-Semitism.

    This only underlines the tone of a very large number of posters here, with talk of "heads on poles" and the "money returning to whom it rightfully belongs".

    I'm actually thankful for forums like this because it serves as a pointed reminder that the vast majority of people are all too quick to jump onto whatever current hate-inspired bandwagon happens to be passing by.

    Fortunately, all those clamouring to string up the bankers are unlikely to ever succeed. I for one am grateful that the "system" that is so derided in these pages does such a good job of keeping these kind of ill-educated envy-filled peasants under the heal: it's where they belong as far as I can judge from the intellectual content of many of these posts.

  • Comment number 85.

    It will take one decision from Goldman Sachs or an equivalent about where they are to trade from to make this the worse economic decision this Government has taken in several months...a very high bar indeed. The fact this tax is going to bite is not good news for our future tax take or public finances.

  • Comment number 86.

    Frankly, right this minute, I don't care tuppence about Barclays' bonuses or tax payments ....... I just want them to fix their online banking, which has been down all afternoon ...... a bleep-bleep-bleep-bleep-ing shambles on the first working day of 2010, why am I not surprised ? ? ?

  • Comment number 87.

    Three points:

    According to some comments, most of the tax burden should fall on those who don’t have a stick to wave at the government and so cannot do much to avoid paying tax. Thus, employed people, who are not too highly paid, and small businesses have to pay the bill – a bit harsh?

    If someone is in the financial service industry and is clever enough to receive an enormous salary or bonus, they must be smart enough to minimise their tax without resorting to moving house. If the Rolling Stones can manage it, these whizz kids should find it trivial.

    The bankers are leaving the UK because of high tax. Is that what happened to manufacturing? All the engineers went to Switzerland because their tax bill was too high here?

  • Comment number 88.

    84. mad99:
    'Fortunately, all those clamouring to string up the bankers are unlikely to ever succeed. I for one am grateful that the "system" that is so derided in these pages does such a good job of keeping these kind of ill-educated envy-filled peasants under the heal.'

    Say it like you mean it Mad99. I mean don't hold back. Let it all out. Thank you for sharing with us your most private thoughts.

    What bank do you work at by the way?

  • Comment number 89.

    84. At 5:09pm on 04 Jan 2010, mad99 wrote:
    I for one am grateful that the "system" that is so derided in these pages does such a good job of keeping these kind of ill-educated envy-filled peasants under the heal: it's where they belong as far as I can judge from the intellectual content of many of these posts.

    If you're so happy with the system why bother writing this "rich" intellectual content?

  • Comment number 90.


    The fact that anti-semites regularly try to post their irrational nonsense on any available website, blog or wall is a well-known fact. Their behaviour is rather like the boy who scrawled `No Popery' on a wall and then ran away. The stupidity of their contemptible claims is there for all to see: as a consequence they are their own worst enemy.

    However, I disagree that the angry tone from posters such as I among others on this board as to the irrational expectations of those employed in the financial services sector can in any way be conflated with the pathetic behaviour of the anti-semite. Indeed the assertion is quite offensive and opportunist.

    The brutal truth is that just over a year ago the UK taxpayer was drafted in to providing financial support for the entire UK financial services sector. As sensible people we totally understand the necessity for that action.

    But what happened next? This is where the anger comes in.

    Does the financial sector apologise for their behaviour? Is there a voluntary reorganisation of the financial sector to ensure it does not happen again? In one short word: NO. The chorus of `not me, guv' is deafening. The expectation that give it a short while and normal service will be resumed is just bewildering.

    The consequence is that the UK taxpayer is left sitting on a pile of other peoples' debts with no security that what happened before could not happen again? Would you choose to be in that position? I bet you wouldn't. The government does nothing and the regulators sit on their hands.

    I am angry at the attitudes on display in the financial services sector. There are many individuals who just don't get the fact that there has been a catastrophe worse than the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The fact that we are not now all bust is down to the UK taxpayer of which I am one. I would welcome some humility from the people who have brought our country to the brink of ruin, but I am not hearing it.

    So until those who have set themselves up as superior intellectual beings learn some manners then they are going to find the ordinary person in the street very objectionable. You need us because we now own you: so don't give yourself airs and graces you obviously lack.

  • Comment number 91.

    Dempster and writingsonthewall,

    I'm completely with you on the fact that the City/UK Financial Services industry here in the UK has been ripping off the rest of us people for many years (even though this truth appears only now to becoming evident to some people), and that we need revolutionary change to enable the 'people' to take greater ownership of the money system.

    It's just that I think this is best done by legislation about what you can and can't do with money contracts, what the relationships in law we permit between 'suppliers', 'customers', 'employees', 'money-lenders' and 'shareholders', and what information you have to declare into the public domain about your finance business, rather than via long-term state ownership of banks.

    I completely agree that the banks/City have ripped us off, no question at all, and to affirm my position, I'd cite a mix of personal/general points:
    - my own experience in taking a complaint about the mis-selling of a pension to the Pension Ombudsman some years back when I got no help from the privatised Building Society that sold it to me (which as a taxpayer I now have a shareholding in), and subsequently forcing them to pay out a five-figure sum in compensation. (This mis-selling was entirely due to the bonus incentive system of the salesperson).
    - my knowledge of a friend beneficiary mother's life assurance policy (again with a subsidiary of one of 'my' banks) that eventually paid out a minute fraction of the cost.
    - the RSA report into pensions which has been quoted by Robert at least once, that concluded following a huge analysis of pensions companies investment performance, that there is only one thing that determines the long run performance of pensions funds.... the level of fees charged. The supposed abilities of the management teams have just as much effect on performance as their accents/hairstyles/dress sense/eye-colour etc i.e. absolutely none. So this is one instance where if we indeed employed monkeys and paid them peanuts we would certainly get world-class performance in the long run.
    - Alan Greenspan's historic mea culpa which goes something along the lines of.... "Sorry, guys. I really, honestly, promise you I did, think that the people running the banks would act in the best interests of their shareholders, not themselves".
    - Paul Volcker's recent comments at the recent UK December conference that “I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth — one shred of evidence". He went on to point out that financial services in the United States had increased its share of value added from 2 per cent to 6.5 per cent, but then asked the bankers present: “Is that a reflection of your financial innovation, or just a reflection of what you’re paid?”.
    - George Soros view at the same conference that CDS's are akin to "buying life assurance and then giving someone a licence to shoot the insured person".

    But let's not get into another big hole while trying to get out of this one.

    A couple of points:
    - small and medium size companies (like mine) in the UK are as a whole net depositors in banks, unlike large companies which are net borrowers. i.e. it's not every SME that can't get a loan at the moment (Robert wrote an article recently asking exactly who was going to be carrying out the investment required to get the UK back into business, given that both large companies and the govt itself are so heavily indebted..... well, my guess is a large portion of it is going to come from the SME sector)
    - if all banks were state run, then bank employees would just shaft us another way.... by going on strike!

  • Comment number 92.

    I think the bigger picture should be analysed more closely and be put into perspective.

    Will these banking executives be affected by the proposed increase in VAT while the average minion certainly will?

    Does anyone know the approximate amount that this 2.5% increase will raise?

  • Comment number 93.

    88. At 5:30pm on 04 Jan 2010, warwick wrote:
    84. mad99:
    Say it like you mean it Mad99. I mean don't hold back. Let it all out. Thank you for sharing with us your most private thoughts.

    What bank do you work at by the way?

    It must be Goldman Sachs, they believe they do God's work at keeping the peasantry under the heal.

  • Comment number 94.

    This is all hyped up and makes little difference to those paying or receiving the bonuses because the banks simply increase the bonus payments to what the most privileged high earners would have got anyway and the banks just pay the tax (as its not their money anyway)... and they all could not care less so long as they all pay and get their bonuses.

    The losers are the shareholders in the banks and the accountants otherwise mop up the mess and 'arrange the books' to make this happen.

  • Comment number 95.


    Don't tell Gordan of this massive increase in revinew or he will just spend it or pledge it to some other country in his role as "Global Gordan"!

  • Comment number 96.

    "Under the heal"

    Is that like being under the doctor?

    It'll be "one foul swoop" next

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.
    2010 will be the year the economy grows at 3%

    Looks like another of my predictions will also come true.


  • Comment number 99.

    2010 will be the year the bank shares double and the government recovers the money it lost investing in them.

    RBS shares up 9.9% today.

    Another of my predictions working out nicely.


  • Comment number 100.

    94 nautonier

    What about the HMRC 'benefit in kind' rules. If an employer pays tax on a bonus, then that payment would be assessed as taxable income for the recipient, and a double charge to income tax would result. Are the bankers exempt from this law?


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