European media, political leaders, and the citizenry are bashing bankers again, overtly calling them at best accomplices of numerous illegal activities, at worst downright criminals.
The best example of this new wave of anger against bankers is the use of the portmanteau word “bankster” (a combination of banker and gangster), which has become commonplace in media, even in non English-speaking countries.
The term, first coined in the 1930s during the Great Depression and which resurfaced in British media in 2009, appeared on the front page of the French daily Libération on Jul. 18.
Political leaders critical of banks have so far refrained from using the word but everyone else has been having a field day with it.
In a short white paper on banks’ policies released Jul. 21, the head of Germany’s leading opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), Sigmar Gabriel, accused bankers of “blackmailing governments and states with the (threat) of domino bankruptcy”, of “complicity with criminal activities”, such as tax evasion and money laundering, and of “screwing their own clients”.
Even those commentators who dismissed Gabriel’s banker bashing as political populism agreed that the managers of international private financial corporations have recently done large disservices to their business and their clients.
The list of genuine grievances is long: the HSBC bank is facing accusations in the U.S. of having laundered money for Latin American cocaine cartels and Muslim organizations allegedly involved in terrorist activities.
In a statement released Jul. 17, the HSBC acknowledged, “In the past, (the bank has) sometimes failed to meet the standards that regulators and customers expect. (We) acknowledge these mistakes, answer for our actions and give our absolute commitment to fixing what ...