Yesterday Barclays Bank published its results and unashamedly demonstrated that the City bonus culture is back in full swing. Never mind the fact that profits have fallen by 32%, never mind the fact that over 10,000 people are going to be laid off because of commercial problems – no less than £2.4bn (a 10% increase) is still going to be paid out in bonuses to their top bankers. When questioned about this their chief exec, Antony Jenkins, resorted to the old free-market capitalist mantra of ‘market rates’. It’s a shame market rates only ever seem to go up for top earners , while for broader society wages stagnate and living standards go down.
These big corporates really are just money-making machines for their top staff, which the rest of us have to finance.
Many people believe that the owners – the shareholders – are also coining it in, but in reality they are getting fleeced too. The £2.4bn that is being paid in bonuses to staff is almost triple the £859m that is being paid in dividends to shareholders. To put this rip-off culture into even starker contrast, in 2009* (the latest year for which complete figures are available), of the £11.6bn profit made by Barclays, it paid a mere £113m in tax (a rate of just 1%); £734 in dividends to its shareholders (a lot of whom are pension funds); but a thumping £2.5bn in bonuses to its own staff. It’s daylight robbery and we’re all getting mugged. Question is: how much longer can it go on for?