Iain Dale is Leading Britain's Conversation.
28 October 2017, 20:50
We do not like banks very much. We have billions of good reasons not to.
Unfortunately, we are in the invidious position of resenting them for everything they have done to us, yet being completely dependent on them.
This is despite the very real feeling that they have not exactly mended their wicked ways.
Banks’ contribution to the UK’s public finances climbed 3.5pc to £35.4bn last year. That pace of growth is far higher than pretty much any industry that is not associated with medicating an ageing population, or dealing in illegal drugs.
Banking is so highly paid that it provides employment for only 1.6pc of the UK’s workforce but it generates 7.2pc of all employment tax receipts.
We might hate those money-grubbing swindlers but we'll miss them when they're gone.
Whether they will stay here and continue to pay taxes and employ people is rather up to whatever deal we get on leaving the EU.
Banks are not going to stay out of loyalty. They will get out their enormous calculators – the ones that go to 14 digits – and they will find out where they can maximise their income and that is where they will go.
They will leave London and decamp to some dull European or Asian backwater to save a few pennies because in banking circles there is no such thing as enough money.
This is especially true of foreign banks. They contributed £17.3bn to the exchequer last year, almost half of the entire contribution from banking.
According to research by the accounting and services firm PwC, foreign banks also represent a majority of payroll taxes in the sector.
That means they either pay their staff more than British banks or they employ more people than British banks.
Either way, we really can't afford to be without them, and they are already siphoning off some jobs because of their concerns over Brexit.
Last week Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein suggested the investment bank could move some of its operations to Germany post-Brexit.
Billionaire financial media mogul Michael Bloomberg said that Brexit was the “single stupidest thing any country has ever done” apart from electing Donald Trump!
Bank of England governor Mark Carney has been warning of the risks to the economy should financial services firms encounter barriers to defrauding customers accross borders.
He didn't put it quite like that, but you get the idea.
Of course, Mark Carney is an expert, so no one is interested, and as he is saying that a no deal Brexit might be bad for the economy there has been all sorts of preening ninnies calling him an enemy of Brexit and a remoaner and all that other infantile playground nonsense.
It is somewhat irritating that we are being held to ransom by an industry that has inveigled its way into our lives to such an extent that we would be ruined without it.
Banking is like the ivy that is holding up an old wall. It is the thing that has ruined the structure but take it away and the whole lot falls down.
I am not the only person that thinks that the banking business is based on criminality.
American senator and ex-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders repeatedly argued that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud”.
In February of last year, The Financial Times noted that many of the big firms in the sector had been in trouble for price fixing, bid rigging, market manipulation, money laundering, document forgery, lying to investors, sanctions-evading, and tax dodging.
It concluded that there is an essential truth in what Sanders said.
Unlike most businesses though, banks engage in the kind of fraud that you can get away with even if you are caught.
At most, the punishment will be to have to return some of the money they took.
What a racket.
They are like what the Mafia would look like if they dressed better and left their guns at home.
It is a bit like being a victim of Stockholm syndrome. Our economy is so dependent on them it is like we have been taken hostage and have fallen in love with our captors.
In this case, it is our captor's money that we have fallen in love with.
And what does that make us?