Cleaning Belfast Articles

Can you clean a Bank?

This week yet another banking scandal was revealed, so far its only Barclays that been exposed, but there will probably be more to come, as there are often are in these stories. The recessions, slumps, depressions and economic catastrophes have been with us for 4 years now and there's not much sign of them leaving us just yet. Bankruptcy, unemployment, business closures and no growth are now the norm. Politicians and governments tend to blame each other or their predecessors, but most of us know it was the banks across the US and Europe that were to blame, literally gambling with high risk credit, loans and mortgages and off setting them against each other. In truth, the politicians may have a small amount of blame in not regulating the banks strongly enough, although we must accept the relaxations and deregulation is what an economy needs to thrive.

However, with all that taken into account, the whole banking culture needs cleaning up. Banks have already been nationalised, rescued, and bailed out - we think this is to protect the millions of customers and their savings. Maybe its just to stop a massive domino effect, if one bank falls, many would probably fall with it.

Banks today seem to be faceless, uncaring and unaware. I am just a number that's called up on a pc in call centre, they don't know me or what I do, my branch is irrelevant and I don't think it has bank manager. It seems the bank would be happier if I banked on-line and they could close the branches. Their charges for banking can be extortionate, especially if you are a small business, this is why large percentages of profits come from small business banking.

We've all been aware of the red braces and champagne power lunches since the '80s, amongst the traders and dealers, but the sums of money involved today in bonuses is unimaginable for the average person. Who can imagine getting a bonus of 9 million or even one hundred thousand, it's a different world. Once in a while a trader goes rogue and loses his bank millions or billions, such as happened to Barings Bank, or Societe Generale in France. Over the last few years billions have been poured into the UK banks in a measure called quantitative easing - the idea was bulk up the banks and give them confidence to lend, especially to small businesses. The result of this was missed target through not lending anywhere near enough, and most of the money went into bonds.

However, we are now beginning to see the extent of the greed, bad behaviour and immorality of the banks, - the public is turning angry and rightly so. It's time the banks were cleaned up, but how can they be controlled more closely, how can they be penalised for bad behaviour, and how can their attitude towards morality be changed? Will we see any compensatory or remorseful actions on their part?

Personally I don't think so. Maybe the answer is a national bank, run by civil servants for the people, a place where there's fairness for all, standard charges and sympathetic loans, a branch that has a manager that can make decisions, a manager that knows you, and there's no trading department! If people left the high street banks for the national bank, then the banks would get their just reward.

Read more about the Barclays revelation -