Talking Points 22 December: Should bankers say sorry?

‘It starts by saying sorry’. This is how John Varley, Chief executive of Barclays thinks could be the first step towards regaining consumer trust in the banking industry.

His was the latest attempt to apologise after Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS chairman Lord Dennis Stevenson. But is saying sorry enough? Will apologising chief executives be able to gain people’s trust? This article argues that it won’t.

In this interview  with Sir John Gieve, the deputy governor of The Bank of England says that the they did not understand the severity of economic problems before the current financial crisis.

Also where does the bail-out stop? The US government agreed to a $17 billion bail-out to the car industry, Toyota makes its first loss since 1938 and now there’s talk of saving Jaguar Land Rover. Why are we bailing out an industry that is one of the main elements responsible for climate change? And also who’s next?

And speaking of climate change, is a congestion charge too much to pay for clean air? The answer is YES according to Peter Preston’s article. In a time of credit crunch would you pay for a better environment? Do you actually care? Is the credit crunch making us more selfish?

20 Responses to “Talking Points 22 December: Should bankers say sorry?”

  1. 1 Ros Atkins
    December 22, 2008 at 10:56

    I’ve three suggestions.

    1) Is it time to increase our commitment to the war on drugs? Pegged to what’s going on in Mexico.


    2) Are we buying less because we want to change our lifestyles or we just don’t have the money? Pegged to Toyota losses and 100s of other stories.


    3) The stress of unemployment. On individuals and society.

    Pegged to 100s of stories. See this search.


    Lots of stories on the stresses it places. Here’s one in New Zealand.


  2. 2 Mark Sandell
    December 22, 2008 at 11:07

    This story appeals too…..when i go for a loan (all too frequently) the bank seems to want to know what i’m going to do with the money. But when public money is loaned to THEM…


  3. December 22, 2008 at 11:57

    Bankers saying sorry? How about “Sorry and Goodbye” instead. If a junior staff member of ANY employer was guilty of the same errors in judgement the executives have made, they’d no longer be employed. On the other hand, the bank executives are sill quibbling over the sizes of their bonuses.

  4. December 22, 2008 at 12:01

    If drugs were legalised, problems like the gruesome story in Mexico wouldn’t happen. Look at the violence connected with alcohol during the American experiment with prohibition–but I haven’t heard of the Jim Beam mob going after the Jack Daniels gang lately….and the Laphroaig clan is peaceful too.

    Prohibition didn’t work then…and the “war on drugs” is just modern prohibition.

  5. December 22, 2008 at 12:05

    Love that bank story, Mark…except you don’t take it far enough. As well as what they’re doing with it, shouldn’t the banks also give us details of their earning potential and maybe a few credit references? Oh, and an employment history for the executives!

    …and we reserve the right to change our standard terms and conditions without notice!

  6. 6 Muhammad Asim Munir
    December 22, 2008 at 13:01

    Hi WHYS,

    I hope you all are fine.

    Bankers were involved in many irregularities that resulted in such a serious crisis. Though they are not only to blame for it, Bush administration has its role in it as well, yet a simple sorry can’t bring confidence back.

    Perhaps it is good time to change banking system or bring reforms in it on big scale. Moreover accountability must be done.

    i’m afraid, the life has become so hard in terms of money that despite wishing so not everybody will be willing to pay for climate change.

    If any industry goes down, the rate of unemployment goes higher then we must be ready for psychological problems, suicides and crimes which can bring a social change even more dangerous than climate change. So, there is a reason to save auto industry.

    Muhammad Asim Munir
    Gujranwala, Pakistan.

  7. 7 john in Germany
    December 22, 2008 at 13:06

    Should bankers say sorry.

    A lot of bankers should go down on their hands and knees and beg for forgiveness,
    for being greedy,careless about the monies given to them in trust, and for being non caring about those that loose thier livelihoods, thier houses, and there self respect.

    Tax payers money is being used to get them out of the dirt, to date i have not seen or heard one of them say sorry, to anybody. Some, not bankers but overpaid managers had the affront to go to Congress in Private jets to beg for assistance to help them out of years of mi management. All we hear is the control systems were not good enough. Come on are they schoolchildren that need constant guidance, or grown up people that should be trusted??.

    John in Germany

  8. December 22, 2008 at 14:35

    Should bankers say they’re sorry? That’s not enough. Bankers should have an extended stay at Guantanamo.

  9. December 22, 2008 at 15:00

    We’re told to believe in free markets, yet if we had free markets, banks and car companies would be allowed to fail.

    We see handouts being given to corrupt corporations, at a time when Americans receive nothing in return for their taxes i.e. no health care, no social safety net to speak of.

    Thus what we have in the US is socialism for the rich and a raw deal for the poor. We have immunity from crimes for the rich, and a harsh penal system for the poor. And we are all one paycheck away from becoming poor.

    Therefore we cannot expect apologies from the bankers and their cronies in government, nor generosity, nor fairness.

    What we can expect is army troops in the streets. And now the mass media are predicting just that.

  10. December 22, 2008 at 15:15

    Nothing says “we’re sorry” quite like lowering the interest rates on credit cards.

  11. December 22, 2008 at 15:20

    They can save their apologies for the priest during confession.
    We need them to right the wrongs they have committed.

  12. 12 john in Germany
    December 23, 2008 at 08:42

    Hi Manx.

    Obahma could be the man to correct a lot of the errors to humanity that have been made by people that propagate the global finance system in thier own interest.
    The propaganda machine has led many a-stray in to believing that it is a system that benifits mankind, excuse me but tommy rot. We all know that it has been developed only to the advantage of those that have, and for no others. It allows people like Mugabe to ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands, and to get away with it. It allows Grey zone bankers to get away with things that would send every other person to prison. One could go on for ever.

    The Beeb told us last night that these people are still giving themselves Bonuses, an affront to to all that have lost thier monies, and the tax payers that have provided the monies to bail out thier failed firms, (may be because of greed 10% and more interest) And worst still the Editor of The Banker says its ok, accepted he must look after his circulation. But an indication in which way most of these people think.

    Lets hope for the best.


    John in Germany.

  13. December 23, 2008 at 11:47

    Another thing, all the ill gotten gains of the bankers and wilful gamblers will be paid back double to those who have suffered as a consequence – the unknown, unnamed and unrecognised growers and producers in foreign lands who have never ever received a fair price in the financial market place will reap the benefits for once.
    Everything they ever owned and all their savings will be paid back to society and communities throughout the country.
    All avenues of escape must be blocked, and this means they have nowhere to run and hide. Any country or state found harbouring known felons will pay such a heavy price literally, so they will never wish to give sanctuary to the accused and guilty ever again. There will be no place to hide. All financial and legal loopholes will be sealed throughout the world. Offshore tax havens must become a thing of the past! This might sound rather too draconian, and it doesn’t actually sit that easy with me. But I’m afraid if these arrogant, pompous and ruthless individuals will stop at nothing to further their wealth to repugnant levels, then in turn we must ensure they desist and cease such behaviours now and in the future, so we must be prepared to prosecute the law to the highest degree in order to halt them in their tracks once and for all. As well, any government, state, nation president, prime minister who is in league with or is found guilty of aiding or abetting individual/individuals will witness the full and weight and force of the law!

  14. 14 David Dzidzikashvili
    December 23, 2008 at 22:04

    Talking Points 22 December: Should bankers say sorry?


    It’s like asking – SHould Madoff say I’m sorry? Would anyone care? The damage has been done. Many consumers lost confidence in our financial institutions and regulators.

    Sorry does not put bread on my table. Sorry just does not cut it for me.

  15. 15 M. Kasteel
    December 25, 2008 at 21:35

    Yes they should say sorry. They are just employees. There are millions of people with a economic degree who can do the same job. So the bankers must not presume they are allmighty and deserve so much money. A modest salary must be enough. And certainly no bonus.

  16. 16 DENNIS
    December 26, 2008 at 01:57

    Bankers should simply say, “I am sorry” for any mistakes and misdeeds on ‘our’ parts. and, accept the bankers part of the blame…..


  17. 17 bertie
    December 27, 2008 at 09:14

    My needs are very small yet ive been to every high street bank and been treated very badly over the last 40 years.
    Endless charges for nothing resulting in hardships and a eventual depression leading to a complete mistrust of the banking system – why – presumably all they looked at was the balance sheet sitting in front of them, no insight or throught of the future.
    When i sold my house, and my land, and my workshop i took all my money and ran – who was the looser then?
    I run a small business – my clients trust and respect me – it is the fundamental of good business – i dont have degrees or a fancy building but i know that honesty and integrity and valuing other people is what life is about.

  18. December 28, 2008 at 22:03

    Like in the Enron case a few years ago, if there is massive faud involved in financial transactions why have no police investigations been initiated and the suspects who have a case to answer been prosecuted? The silence of the law is deafenning. Sweet talking around the subject with bail outs, and what not, at taxpayer’s expense have become all to fashionable. Where is public accountability by those in charge?

  19. 19 ~Dennis Junior~
    January 14, 2009 at 03:15


    In a time of credit crunch would you pay for a better environment?
    Not really, because of the credit crunch has affected the economy….

    Do you actually care?
    Yes, I personally care about the environment!!!!

    Is the credit crunch making us more selfish?
    Yes—I think that it is making us semi-more-selfish…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  20. 20 ~Dennis Junior~
    January 14, 2009 at 03:20

    Why are we bailing out an industry that is one of the main elements responsible for climate change? i have not idea of bailing out an industry that has a so-so track record on climate change…

    And also who’s next? I think that some other business….

    ~Dennis Junior~

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