City bonuses make a comeback but recession never left

‘Bab!” is the new toast in the City champagne bars. That’s banker-speak for “Bonuses are back.”

Perhaps you may have read about it in the papers. “Oh, good,” you’ll have gone, as you cancelled your annual holiday in the Med, scrapped the children’s riding and judo lessons and changed the mince on your grocery order from Premium Aberdeen Angus to Budget Extra Fat and Donkey Gristle.

“I’ve been feeling the pinch quite a bit this year,” you’ll continue, “what with the negative equity and losing my job and the sky-rocketing bills. So how utterly marvellous to know that Henry Red-Braces in the big house up the road can still fund his heli-skiing jaunt to the glaciers of the Andes.”

If this is starting to sound like the sort of rant you’d more usually associate with the Guardian, there are a couple of things I want to make clear. First, some of my best friends are bankers – my little brother, too – and by no means do I hate any of them so much that I wish them to die in agony, covered in pustular sores. I fully recognise that they have virtually no social life; that they work long hours; and that, yes, they do deserve some reasonable level of compensation for their arid, joyless toiling.

Second, I am not an anti-capitalist. Au contraire. It is my firm belief that one of the very worst things to emerge from the financial crisis is the glib, poisonous, Leftist, Franco-German canard that somehow “capitalism is to blame”. If the capitalist system had been left to its own devices, we’d all be out of this mess by now. Heavy-handed government intervention (mortgages for the unsuitable; artificially low interest rates; bail-outs etc) has much more to do with it than Gordon Gekko-approved greed.

But just because all this is so, it doesn’t let bankers off the hook entirely.

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