I don’t know how many of you read Monday’s FTfm (a weekly review of the fund management industry published as a pull-out with the Financial Times).
Today’s version has a peculiarly arresting intro to its leads story, as follows … ‘The asset management industry claims it bears no responsibility for the financial crisis, but it may be on the hook to foot part of the bill.’
That such a story could even be written underlines the power that big money still exacts over our political and media culture.
How come last week, none of the papers reported the spending review as follows … ‘Teachers claim they bear no responsibility for the financial crisis, but 40,000 of them are about to lose their jobs as a result of the coalition government’s response to it.’
‘Poorer children claim they bear no responsibility for the financial crisis, but they are about to lose the educational maintenance allowance that helped them stay on at schools.’
‘Council house tenants claim they bear no responsibility for the financial crisis, but many are about to lose their homes because of housing benefit changes brought in by the coalition to deal with its aftermath.’
‘Local councils claim they bear no responsibility for the financial crisis, but they are being forced to make massive cuts to services to help the coalition deal with the budget deficit that it helped to cause.’
I could go on and on, but will stop there for now, and make the reflection that the coalition has done a superb con job in distancing last week’s decisions from their principal original source. Labour really must reframe this argument, and its history, pretty quickly.
What the hedge funds are worried about is a European wide ‘financial activities tax’. Reasonably, the European Commission makes the argument that the financial sector was a major cause of the crisis and received substantial government support. ‘It should therefore properly contribute to the cost of rebuilding Europe’s economies and bolstering public finances.’
FTfm gives the fund management industry plenty of space to set out how, because unlike the banks they received none of that government support, this is an unfair move.
Yet fair to say they were a lot nearer the scene of the crime than the teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, social workers, kids, families and pensioners who are being asked the fill the hole the bankers dug for us. After all we are, as George Osborne keeps saying, all in this together. It’s just that the bankers and their friends are not in it quite as deeply as they should be.