Karl Sternberg: Marx Would Have Been Proud of Bankers

Roundup: Media's Take

The writer is a co-founder of Oxford Investment Partners.

If Karl Marx had been alive in 2007, he would have been working for a bank. Banks had reached a state of communist perfection. The workers took home everything; the capital holders were left with nothing. Shareholders of banks were raped by the staff, who paid themselves extravagant sums out of illusory profits. Labour had found a far more effective device than trade unions for destroying capitalists, by duping the shareholders that higher pay was essential to retain Talent. They were assisted by the accountants, who allowed them to declare profits before they received any cash. Marx would have been laughing all the way from the bank.

We should hardly be surprised that the beneficiaries of the communist banking system are squealing. There are many siren warnings of the consequences of more regulation. Don’t kill the golden goose, they say. Many in banking seem not to have noticed that they recently brought the world economy to its knees.

To be fair, the banks were not alone in their mistakes. Central banks set interest rates too low for too long; politicians believed they had abolished the business cycle and that a permanently higher level of public expenditure could be justified; too many citizens borrowed money they could never afford to repay. This type of mass self-delusion has characterised most booms in history. But it is the bankers who seem most reluctant to accept that change is necessary. They need rescuing from themselves. Counterintuitively, it is regulation that can reimpose a capitalist system on the banks...

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