Amit Patel_A4 Temp 16/05/2011 14:56 Page 15
Getting our ‘Quantum of Solace’ But from whom – the Bankers or the Politicians? ands up anyone who doesn’t admire James Bond? He must surely be one of the most enviable characters ever created. Everything about him is awe-inspiring – handsome, strong, intelligent, dashing, sophisticated…well you know the rest. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the last Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’ (which means ‘small amount of comfort) was a huge hit. The story was based on Bond’s discovery of an international cartel (formed by very rich individuals) who took control of Bolivia’s water supply and then threatened the government that if it did not pay extortionate rates to ‘buy’ back the water the population would suffer a terrible drought. Along comes James, who is actually on a revenge mission to find the despicable devils who killed his girlfriend, and inadvertently foils the whole dastardly plot. In doing so he exacts his ‘quantum of solace’. While this is certainly a gripping story but it does have a somewhat familiar ring to it. An international cartel capturing vital resources…then coercing governments to pay huge sums of money…the victims being the poor innocent person on the street? If one was to be cynical it could be argued that the film was actually inspired by the current credit crunch (or vice versa for all you conspiracy theorists!). The cartel could be the banks who have collected everyone’s money only to rake up huge debts in their greedy rush to make immense profits. The banks then say to the government that ‘you need to pay billions to save us or the given us or else we will go ‘bankrupt’ (excuse the pun) and all the hard earned money your citizens have entrusted to us will be lost. Cue James Bond to drive in to town in his sparkling new Aston Martin and save the day – well we didn’t quite get that but then this isn’t the movies. Instead we got David Cameron and George Osborne. While there have been no gunfights or explosive plots they have certainly not been any less dramatic in their
Amit Patel, Personal Development and Human Resource Management
message – government spending needs to be drastically cut or else the country faces ruin and the country will go bankrupt (Isn’t that what the banks were saying?). This is where the plot goes somewhat astray…whereas James Bond saves the day and foils the criminal cartel; Cameron and Osborne haven’t quite dealt with the banks in the same way. The ‘more rigorous regulation’ of the finance sector seems to be as significant as a post it note saying ‘be careful’. A child would get a stronger punishment for eating another child’s lollipop. The government spending cuts are indeed severe and for many they are life changing. People feel they are suffering for someone else’s mistakes and the general mood is that they want those whose is fault it is to pay. They want their ‘quantum of solace’ that they should not have to bear the burden alone while the culprits remain unaffected. So who should suffer more the bankers or the politicians? Traditionally bankers have always been disliked, Mark Twain once said ‘A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute is starts raining.’ Politicians do not fare much better, as Nikita Khrushchev said, ‘Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.’ The sequence of events may offer some view as to who is to blame. Previous governments have never been inclined to regulate the banks, or to even take any notice of what they were doing. They were happy to collect the taxes and political donations and bask in the glow of London being the financial hub of the world. Unregulated, bankers began taking even greater risks to make more money. The government saw that business was good and people were becoming wealthier (even though most of it was debt) and so it spent more on lavish projects to garner more votes. So whose fault is it? If you can unravel that you may also be able to answer which came first the chicken or the egg? Or perhaps you are just James Bond in disguise.
Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011
Finance Banking Insurance (FBI)