Despite all the misery they have caused us, banks still play a very important role. They keep our economies well oiled, or rather they should. Nothing can worsen our perception of banks now, they have done everything they should not do. There has been a complete erosion of trust, which is the basis of any relationship. Ironically, it goes without saying, that this is the sole reason why banks exist!
The Financial crisis which is in it’s for fifth year, can be largely attributable to the recklessness of the banks. This has caused untold suffering all over the world. What is even more unfortunate, is that, as the Fed and other central banks apply Quantitative Easing, this is hurting developing countries even more. Developing countries were not as highly leveraged as the West. Credit does not flow freely as in it does in the West. QE pushes up asset prices and the unintended consequence, is the rise in commodity prices. This makes basic food prices rocket, thus even more unaffordable, for third world masses.
The Libor scandal is the latest in an unacceptably long list of misdemeanours by banks. From the Global Financial Crisis, to the PPI scandals and the shameful bonuses, paid amid plunging share prices. There is a lot more… is it even worth the trouble? Banks are largely private companies, despite the recent part nationalisation of many. This means they should be accountable to their shareholders. As has always been a matter of large debate in Corporate Governance, they should also be accountable to the wider society.
This should apply more to banks, as they play such a crucial part in the economy .It is a great conundrum, a great dilemma. It is hard to get a proper balance. A balance between regulating banks, protecting society from their wayward tendencies and not suffocating them. Leaving them free enough, to be able to foster an enabling environment, to help economies thrive. The economy is always in favour. This is what creates a moral hazard and enables them to push the envelope. To borrow a phrase from the then US Presidential candidate Bill Clinton,” It’s the economy, stupid”!