With publication in the UK of the latest report into banking standards, here’s an interesting discussion on Thursday’s BBC This Week programme which invited former market trader and financial commentator Max Keiser to discuss whether this might usher in a new age of accountability for the banksters. And – surprise, surprise – the opinion seemed to be that it won’t.
Which is interesting to me because it shows just how much the banks have got us by the short and curlies, both economically, but politically as well. Casting my mind back to my days as an undergraduate political economy student, I remember how the power of vested interests was categorised (this was in 1983, by the way).
Vested interests were considered to have power if they could marshall an army of allies to outflank challengers and win the political argument to defend their position. But where they could prevent an issue from even becoming the subject of debate was seen as as a much greater expression of power.
However, despite the banks’ reckless behaviour leading up to the 2007 crash, it seems that these particular vested interests have taken the power relationship a step further. Because, even though their position has been the subject of considerable debate, with the resulting fact that they have very few, if any, arguments to defend themselves, no one has carried the can for the economic damage they have caused.
No one seriously defends the banksters – not even chancellor George Osborne – yet virtually no action has been taken against any individuals in the UK, despite the fact that the means to do so exists under criminal law.
Banks may have been fined, but who has been put behind bars for their role in wrecking economies, destroying jobs and spreading misery? So far, the banksters have been largely protected by an ‘accountability firewall’ that our current political masters have barely even tried to penetrate.