Banker bashing time
This week (and last) is bank reporting season – annual profit figures for NatWest (last Friday), HSBC (tomorrow), Barclays (Weds) and Lloyds (Thurs).
We will also be told (buried somewhere, typically) what the bonus pot is for the men (and some women) with the chunky watches.
Traditionally this is the time for newspapers to get their tabloid swerve on and write stories that go like this: Banker Bonus Profit Outrage Shock.
I reckon the banks might get away with it this year, to an extent.
Partly because there is general outrage fatigue. There is a limit to how many things we can be cross about at any one time. (My number is way higher than yours, and even I can’t be bothered.)
Also because newspapers are tired of being depressing and might choose to look on the bright side.
After all, didn’t the banks do what they were supposed to in a crisis, this time anyway?
The line from the banks will be that the bankers worked jolly hard; an argument which assumes they were the only ones.
Lots of bank PRs are clever people. And because I know this, I also know that they argue all sorts of things they would never have thought before they were banks PRs and almost certainly won’t think afterwards.
It is hard, so the saying goes, for a man to understand something if his salary depends on his not understanding it.
So I hope some of us stay angry about banker pay. Even if we assume that every single one of them was utterly brilliant during Covid, they are in one of the few sectors of the economy that demands and gets rewards of cash by the sackful.
This is a function of where they work, not how clever they are.
As I like to say at this point: If you work in a biscuit factory, you get free biscuits. If you work in a newspaper factory, you get free newspapers. And if you work in a money factory…