The Barclays Money-go-Round

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Picture © Nadia Isakova

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?