Monday, March 23, 2009

Show us the talent

Taking part in a radio panel discussion this weekend, this blogger found himself alongside a non-executive director of a failed bank. And this character, despite the banking crisis, despite the evidence of massive incompetence and worse, despite the complete failure of the model around which the United Kingdom has built its economic policies since the late 1970s, still persisted in justifying the high salaries, the bonuses, the perks, the non-dom status of imported City workers, etc., on the grounds that these are "the necessary rewards to keep talent in the country."





At which stage I challenged him to explain what these "talents" are and how ordinary people have benefited from them. Seen through the prism of a slightly more critical analysis, the so-called talent of the City of London has been a total chimera: the banking sector has unravelled; the mathematical formulae underlying the complex risk strategies have failed at the first major hurdle; the shadow banking system has been an expensive disaster; the British economy has been hollowed out by underinvestment in productive sectors; massive bubbles have been created in residential and commercial property markets; (I could go on).
The one area where the City seems to truly excel lies with complex and wholly unproductive tax avoidance schemes. Show us the talent I asked, but reply there came none.
So now, as a public service, we reveal the City of London's "talent" in all its glory:


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