Wry & Dry

Bankers dodge soft bouncers

The media, especially financial media, got lathered up over the 'Bankers' Barbecue'.  How many of the Gang of Four [1] CEOs would be roasted by the House Economics Committee?

Well, none.  As it turned out.

With the exception of a few pointed questions, the politicians failed to find a 'gotcha moment'.  


The politicians failed dismally to act as a team, even within their own party.  The exception was, of course, Greens leader, Adam Bandt, who, because he was his party's only member on the Committee (because he is his party's only Representative in the House), he couldn't really disagree with himself.  

But he did.  Was he acting for the battling bank customer?  Or for his own party?

The latter came to the front when he asked each of the Gang of Four about their employers' donations to political parties.  Presumably because the banks do not give any to the Greens.  Four wasted questions. 

He would have been better to ask each CEO how their banks coped with the power blackout in South Australia.  But that might have led to a question back to him about... oh, never mind.

After the first CEO, each of the three succeeding CEOs arrived with a look on their faces as though they had seen the questions on the exam paper the night before.  Which they had.

W&D will not go over the entrails of the Bankers' Barbecue - there is enough in the daily media.  Having said that, the abject apologies from the Gang of Four fooled nobody.  Contrition doesn't amount to a hill of beans [2] without clear and obvious action.  The banks have behaved shockingly, have done little about it [3] and are now trying to clean up the mess with as little cost to themselves as possible.  

Because they have done little about it, for years, there will be increased regulation.  The banks will bleat.  Well, too bad, W&D says.  

But the increased regulation will not be enough.  But that is all for which we-the-customer can hope.

The banks have a massive lobby machine in Canberra, and each has a media communications team the envy of any politician.   

Expect the inverse of the duck swimming across the pond.  There will be much apparent activity.  But sweet nothing moving. 

[1] The Gang of Four was a political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and were later charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The gang's leading figure was Mao Zedong's last wife Jiang Qing.  In 1981 the Four were subjected to a show trial.  And, naturally, found guilty.  Jiang Qing and one other received death sentences that were later commuted to life imprisonment, while the other two were given life and twenty years in prison, respectively.  All members of the Gang of Four have since died; Jiang Qing committed suicide in 1991.

[2] Readers will recall "the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world", spoken by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in one of the greatest of movies, Casablanca.

[3] There is very strong anecdotal evidence that some banks quietly fired employees who engaged in fraudulent behaviour without seeking criminal action or advising ASIC.  Better let a small crook escape than let the company's brand be damaged.