Category Archives: bankers

Financial drug-pushers

What banks were like when Dalrymple was a boy

Today’s bankers

Some argue that banks

are up to their old tricks again, lending riskily with abandon, selling on their risky debts to those who have not the faintest idea of what they are buying, having learned from the last crash that when push comes to shove, they will be rescued from the consequences of their improvidence. But this time the banks will not be bailed out; we, the account holders, will be bailed in. The bankers are greedy and insouciant.

The doctor-writer observes that in his lifetime, bankers

seem to have changed in nature, or at least in image.

When Dalrymple was a boy in the 1890s,

bankers were rather respectable, dull persons who acted like the financial guilty conscience of their customers.

Consols Transfer Office, Bank of England, 1894

Corbyn the anti-Semite

The Enemy of Humanity Kalen Ockerman 2018. Mural in Hanbury Street, Spitalfields

Dalrymple reports that Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s far-Left-populist opposition party, recently mounted a defence of a mural depicting Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of naked minorities. Corbyn wrote:

Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller [sic] destroyed Diego Viera’s [sic] mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.

Dalrymple points out that this sort of thing is

cause for anxiety among British Jews unknown since the rise — and thankfully swift fall — of Sir Oswald Mosley.

The analphabetic Leader of the Opposition

Nelson Rockefeller and Diego Rivera

Diego Viera

Vladimir Lenin

Sir Oswald Mosley and friend

Roderick Spode (Lord Sidcup)

Man at the Crossroads Mural at the Rockefeller Center. Diego Rivera, 1933. Destroyed 1934

American Progress Josep Maria Sert, 1937 — the mural that replaced Rivera’s at the Rockefeller Center

The sport of banker-bashing

Nothing is more tempting, writes Dalrymple,

than to blame the financier, merchant, or banker—in short, the scheming middlemen—for the woes of the world. They are parasites, goes the cry, mere bloodsuckers; they create nothing, but take advantage of everything and everybody. They make profits on the way up as well as on the way down, in abundance and in scarcity, no matter how others suffer in the process.

Such ideas, he points out,

are the stuff of propaganda, both Bolshevik and Nazi. For such propaganda, only the producers of simple tangible goods—the shirtsleeved proletarian in his forge pouring pig iron, say, or the happy flaxen-haired peasant hoeing the land to produce turnips—make a real contribution to wealth, everything else being but a form of hidden confiscation of what the sweat of their brow has produced.

Those who have believed this,

or at any rate acted as if they believed this, have been responsible for a great deal of misery in the world.

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Dalrymple bashes bank bunkum

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Unctuous cant

An advertisement for a big bank pretends that it is

working for the creation of a more equal world.

This

cannot possibly be the case and is, in effect, a lie. At least, one hopes it is a lie, for that is the most charitable interpretation of the slogan.

It is obvious, writes Dalrymple, that

the aim of a commercial bank cannot be a more equal world, if only because it has financial obligations to its shareholders that it does not have to the rest of humanity.

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Bank poppycock

The bank’s shareholders

have not invested to provide everyone in the world with paid dividends; and while they might hope that the bank’s activities are honest and contribute to the growth of the economy, this is not at all the same thing as equalising the world.

A world in which everyone were starving

might be a more equal world, indeed a perfectly equal one. Equality of misery is equality all right, but is not therefore either a just or desirable goal that the bank might pride itself on having brought about.

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Bank balderdash

What the bank really meant — if it meant anything at all — was that

it was working towards a richer, more prosperous world. But working for wealth does not have the same moral cachet as working for equality.

In short,

the bank was indulging in humbug; unctuously proclaiming ideals that it cannot, will never and ought not to have.

Humbug, Dalrymple points out, is

an insidious pollutant of the mind, which not only distorts but perverts. It clears the primrose path to earthly damnation.

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Bank baloney

The ludicrous cult of long hours

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 07.50.56Dalrymple’s principle states that

efficiency declines as the number of hours worked grows.

Dalrymple himself is at his best, he explains,

for about two hours a day—shortly after waking—and it is downhill all the way thereafter.

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The suddenly and unwontedly efficient and alert essayist

Only one thing restores his efficiency or alertness, if not his soul:

the prospect, previously unexpected, of earning a good sum of money. This acts on my brain in the same way as amphetamine.

(Johnson: No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.)

Young lawyers, Dalrymple points out,

are expected to examine documents and research precedents for hours on end, though nothing is easier than to overlook the single key fact in a case in which there are hundreds or thousands of pages of dreary documents.

OBBB (overworked banker behaving badly)

Machismo in the empire of imaginary money

For the macho workers in finance,

their absurdly long hours are a source of pride, a seeming justification for what they earn and an excuse for behaving badly once the pressure is relieved. Perhaps there would be fewer financial crises if financiers and their junior aspirants worked fewer hours.

Message to the world’s remaining Marxists

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 19.31.35Dalrymple has this to say to those who continue to profess communism:

It takes considerable stupidity, lack of moral imagination, or an egotism more profound than that of the most voracious Wall Street banker to proclaim yourself a communist after all the human disaster that the doctrine wrought in the past century.

Hier ist kein warum

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 08.18.12Dalrymple’s bank charges him 6.37% on electronic transfers from Australia to the UK, even to an account denominated in Australian dollars.

Why? Here there is no why. Dalrymple writes:

I should like an explanation of this exorbitant charge, but of course I can’t find anyone to explain it to me. I think I could speak to every employee the bank has (132,300) without finding the right person. Not, of course, that it is easy to speak even to a single person at the bank, other than the tellers at my local branch who are not authorised to say anything.

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Is the crisis faced by the Greeks their own fault?

Feeble-minded: Martin Wolf Wolf: feeble-minded

NO, says Martin Wolf. Stupid lenders lose money

This greatly overvalued (and very conceited) journalist writes about high finance. He can be read in the Financial Times, the Irish Times and other prints. He argues:

Nobody was forced to lend to Greece. Initially, private lenders were happy to lend to the Greek government on much the same terms as to the German government. Yet the nature of Greek politics, tellingly described in The 13th Labour of Hercules: Inside the Greek Crisis by Yannis Palaiologos, was no secret. Then, in 2010, it became clear the money would not be repaid. Rather than agree to the write-off that was needed, governments (and the International Monetary Fund) decided to bail out the private creditors by refinancing Greece. Thus began the game of ‘extend and pretend’. Stupid lenders lose money. That has always been the case. It is still the case today.

Dalrymple: incisive and gutsy Dalrymple: incisive

YES, says Theodore Dalrymple. Stupid borrowers lose assets

This greatly undervalued (and very self-effacing) essayist writes about the human condition. He can be read in City Journal, the Salisbury Review and other prints. He argues:

The lenders were foolish, or worse than foolish, relying as they did on Greece’s fraudulent membership of the common currency to forestall any possibility of default. But the Greeks, or rather the Greek government, can hardly be absolved of all blame for the situation. The latter borrowed huge sums of money to fund current consumption, having previously falsified its public accounts in order to meet the criteria to join the common currency. If nobody had to lend to Greece, Greece did not have to borrow, at least not like it did and for the purposes that it did. And if it is true that stupid lenders lose money, stupid borrowers lose their assets. If this is a tale of stupidity, it is of stupidity – or dishonesty – all round.

Dalrymple’s money personality

Giovanni Bellini, Four Allegories: Prudence, c. 1490. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Giovanni Bellini, Four Allegories: Prudence, c. 1490. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

High finance, writes Dalrymple,

has never really been my forte or my interest. My attitude to finance is primitive: I spend less than I earn.

When, during the boom, Dalrymple’s bank asked if he wanted a loan,

I naïvely told it that I did not need a loan. The bank’s reaction reminded me of that of a newspaper for which I used sometimes to write when I refused to do an article for it on the basis of information that was self-evidently false. What, they asked, had that got to do with it? And for the bank (at the time), what had not taking a loan got to do with not needing one?

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La grande fiction

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 02.09.22Banks privatise their profits but nationalise their debts. True, says Dalrymple, but this is ‘perfectly normal behaviour’. Moral hazard has become ‘our way of life’. He cites Bastiat:

L’État, c’est la grande fiction à travers laquelle tout le monde s’efforce de vivre aux dépens de tout le monde.