August 5th, 2010
01:50 PM GMT
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LONDON, England - UK banks are reporting better-than-expected half-year profits. The pound is up strongly against the U.S. dollar. Stocks appear to have restarted the slow but sure summer bump up. So, why shouldn’t London’s financial sector be in a better mood?

Square Mile Magazine celebrated its 50th issue by throwing an annual big party for bankers on Wednesday night in the heart of the Financial District, known as the City.

“We do these parties to give something back to our readers,” Editor Martin Deeson told me as a jazz band set up. “Bankers have had a tough couple of years, more unpopular than journalists the past couple of years. We want to make them feel good about themselves.”

More than 2,000 were expected on the night; to play a big of poker, to look at the latest Jaguar cars, have two free drinks (before having to pay their own way) or even get their picture taken on a pricey bed between two lively lingerie models.

So, is it a good time to be seen having fun again? Why not? The financial sector is something like 12 percent of Britain’s GDP. This is not just rich bankers spending their bonuses. These include insurance, private equity, law firms, management consultants, accountancy firms and yes all us journalists who cover all this.

To be fair, the people invited to the party were having a good time but it was not a $100 a bottle champagne night.

“It's better to keep a low profile, but a lot of people realize we work really hard, but this new tax that takes away 50 percent of our bonuses hits us quite hard,” argued Michael Bergman, a lawyer at Mint Equities.  “People here, they work hard, there is a high stress level, there is a high burn out level in the City and I don't see why people who stick with it shouldn't be well rewarded.”

I have to say the feeling from the thousand or so people there was cautious optimism about the economy, and I heard time and time again that the banks were hiring again. Still, it may be years before things "get back to normal."

Deeson said: "I think everyone knows that things have changed. It will be a long time before we go back to the boom time, massive bonuses, buying two Porsches, that kind of thing.”

Should it ever get back to those times again?



soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Sam

    Hi Guys, If you want to check out Square Miles website, the link is http://www.SquareMile.com.

    August 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  2. JIm

    Why not? The Clintons just spent nearly $3,000,000 on a wedding, so the economy must be booming.

    August 6, 2010 at 3:08 am |
  3. JIm

    Not to mention that Senator John Kerry spent $7,000,000 on a yacht, and even graciously consented to paying taxes on it. If such public servants can afford it on their government jobs, then regular citizens such as myself must be able to afford that as well.

    August 6, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  4. Kedric Wolfe

    Bastards! How have they escaped a timely "Pie In the Face?" That's the picture I want to see. stunned, dripping with custard a brief moment of clarity!

    August 6, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  5. eastofeden

    1) NO BLAME = NO SHAME

    Regulators (and journalists) please (MUST) take note

    2) Someone please tell me where I can buy the best champagne for only $100 per bottle? Zero missing? Should be $1000?

    August 6, 2010 at 3:40 am |
  6. Mr. Mac

    IMO, yes you work hard in a high stress environment. But if that environment is of your own making and consists of packaging up complex financial instruments that are designed to reap profits into your pocket from the pockets of your clients then no I'm sorry those days should have ended with a lot more of you behind bars and the rest of you understanding what the word corruption means.

    August 6, 2010 at 4:25 am |
  7. Robert Lomax

    The moneychangers have been with us since biblical times, and always will be. They hire the smartest people from our schools, since they need to outwit their clients, regulators and the taxpayer by privatizing profits and socializing losses. Those big bonuses ease the soul-pain of knowing you created nothing of real value during your time on Earth. I should know, I used to work for an investment bank.

    August 6, 2010 at 5:11 am |
  8. Safin

    Rather shameful
    I don't mind hard working guys taking a break but not when you take 99% of the people for a ride and then get bailed out by them.

    August 6, 2010 at 5:16 am |
  9. Anjana

    Interesting. So, as a female banker working in the City, I would have been able to enjoy a some drinks, a car show – and yey, some lingerie models. Gotta love working in a male-dominated industry. Thanks for keeping up the sexism.

    August 6, 2010 at 5:17 am |
  10. Mr. Hertogs

    We need another world, where money is not longer a major religion. So "old times" should not return.

    Obtaining your third house, second boat and Ferrari, could be less important than a loving and carring relation with wife and children. Less "material objects" and more attention to the other human being, that's the future.

    August 6, 2010 at 5:25 am |
  11. Janice

    Tasteless.

    August 6, 2010 at 5:46 am |
  12. SamHoser

    Mr. Mac, please go back to sweeping floors and leave thinking to those who can. There are millions of people world wide who work in finance and almost all of them had nothing to do with CDO/ABS markets yet we still saw hundreds of our close friends laid off or ourselves were laid off just like the rest of the job market. Second, there is more than enough blame to go around here, from the simpletons who run up huge credit card and mortgage debt and expect everyone else to pay for them, to the mortgage brokers who peddled complicated mortgages to the uneducated masses, to the the bankers who pooled them and sold off an ever more complex product to the politicians who ignored their own regulations in favor of "free markets". So take your "corruption" ranting and give us a break. And finally, if you're so upset about bankers earning good incomes, why don't you also complain about politicians and professional sports players, 2 fields who do nothing productive for society but are more well paid than any one else! Or better yet, go get an education and work for your income.

    August 6, 2010 at 5:55 am |
  13. Mike

    SamHoser, who runs the credit card companies that let people run up debts? Banks? Banks encourage irresponsible behavior and then expect the tax payer to foot the bill. I have no pity whatsoever for you and your colleagues. Unless you got started 40 years ago, you chose to pursue a career in an industry which is full of deceit. Either you are aware of this or you are stupid.

    And a newsflash SamHoser: Tax payers don't foot the bill for "professional sports players", the market does. Do you think Messi can come crying to the government when he's had a run of bad games?

    August 6, 2010 at 6:45 am |
  14. Aditya

    I agree with Anjana. They should have at least had a couple of male swimsuit models on hand for the female employees.

    August 6, 2010 at 7:21 am |
  15. SamHoser

    Mike, I'm sorry you are disconnected from reality. Your logic would imply that car companies are responsible for encouraging people to speed since they do not regulate the top speed of the car. So should we attack car companies for all the deaths from speeding and be angry for all of the seeping tickets people get? The issue is the American population feel that they deserve to have a 50" flat screen in a trailer! And as for proffessional sports who do you think foots the bill for all the new fancy stadiums which allows the owners to pay those huge salaries to players? ITS YOUR TAX DOLLARS STUPID!

    August 6, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  16. zaynab

    Shame to these Bankers and all the top Executives of all Banks who knew full well the Loans they gave could default as they had no quality.
    The Derivatives they invested and the CDS these banks issued and greased the pockets of top Insurance companies to insure them for certain Default in the Mortgages which caused world wide financial crisis
    for 2years and so many unorganised workers,labourers got their jobs
    destroyed ,as AIG had a massive party after bailout and these Banker's
    Bonuses and salaries were intact,because they were "Too Big to Fail".Now they are back to their Old Tricks and we are waiting to suffer the next Disaster.Time is ticking to disaster.

    August 6, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  17. martin

    You should check out squaremile.com

    It looks like the magazine that threw this party isn't the economist – it looks like a right laugh for City workers.

    They may be bankers – but they still deserve a party dont they? We all do!

    August 6, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  18. Moopy Mac

    Mike,

    "Unless you got started 40 years ago, you chose to pursue a career in an industry which is full of deceit."

    You really have little grasp of the history of the industry and maybe should stop talking now.

    August 6, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  19. Kandasamy

    Shame on you guys! Thoroughly irresponsible. What is the Govt.doing?

    August 6, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  20. Dan

    The Same problems are happening at ANZ Bank and Westpac Bank in Australia. We get charged up to $55 a piece per month making it impossible for us to get by... Yet these bankers are partying on our defaults and exhorbant charges.

    SHAME ON THESE BANKS, although I do like the fact they get to take a photograph with hookers on a bed, because then the world gets to see the true value of these people.

    Anyone who sees these "photographs" are only going to be disgusted!

    August 6, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  21. Stephan

    We must not complain because we are the sheep that get feed what ever the banks and governments want.
    The banks have made perverse profits through out the years and the moment they run into serious trouble of their own creation they get bailed out and are back again to making huge profits.
    Why didn't they invite all their clients that have lost their houses to this party to cheer them up.

    August 6, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  22. johnny

    I've created a job where i sit in a cushy office for long, long hours and work very hard at ripping people off and raising the prices of commodities that people need to survivie.

    Please! Quick! Somebody reward me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 6, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  23. Anne Armstrong

    I was an ER nurse working with only one other (student) nurse. We worked structurally with 2 nurses during the day and alone at night.
    We had the highest paid health care director in the country the year I fainted from exhaustion on the unit, but the hospital refused to hire an administration worker until I filed an official complaint.

    I am not able to work, lost 30% of my income and have a very uncertain future.

    I have not been rewarded for my hard work helping patients, but I am not a banker.

    August 6, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  24. The Stone

    Hell ya now thats the way too party ladies one buy and too ladies. Make it happen thats what its all about. Have fun while you can you only live once even if you call an escort.

    August 6, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  25. m

    CAPITALISM is decadent

    August 6, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  26. Sandip

    you guys bring nothing but disgrace to our society, shame on you guys!

    August 6, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  27. Malcolm

    What amazes me is even without all about the bad news Banking has gotten recently, for ANY executive of a company to get his picture taken on a bed with lingere models is a poor judgement call. It doesn't really matter if you feel morally it's right or wrong, it's just poor judgement and displays a poor image to their employees and customers.

    August 6, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  28. Michael

    never again a bailout.
    If a banks fail, all bonus of the last 5 yrs must be re-paid.
    or Bonuses only paid out when banker retires or leaves the bank.
    Best, no bonuses at all

    August 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  29. Bali Walden

    Hook, Line, and sinker!! Those idiots were more or less set up. All to make them look like jack asses. If you were told you where invited to a party where you got two free drinks, poker tables, and food. Most would say sure! Ahha, the catch is that newspapers will be there and will smear you. Tell me this where are the pictures from the AFL-CIO winter convention last year in Miami Fla. It goes both ways, it is just this is what this media outlet chooses to show you...

    August 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  30. Joe Ouellette

    Disgusting! simply, odoriferously disgusting! Why most of the practitioners within this sector of the economy are not behind bars for fraud and theft is beyond my understanding.

    August 6, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  31. anon

    John Laws would be proud.

    August 6, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  32. Bill

    Yes, I think we the people, in order to create a more perfect union, should consider a solid campaign against the upper class, especially bankers-most of these guys are certainly worthy of everything from a bullet to the brian to a good dunking in pig manure, which befits their position in life as monetary vampires. They serve no real purpose or benefit to humanity except to drain an excessive portion of the national wealth into their pockets. The same goes for politicians and celebrities irregardless of their miniscule contributions to charities. There is only so much money, so much wealth and the more concentrated it becomes in fewer hands, the less everyone else has.

    August 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  33. Joe Andrews

    Absolutley disgraceful! Because of these guys everyone has a stressful life!
    It brings a certain amount of bile to them mind when i think of these hooray henrys flaunting tax payers money around!

    August 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  34. Mr. Mac

    lol SamHoser; look over there they are worse than us! Go pick on them! You consider that a valid defense? That said you have some very good points, there is a very complex problem at the root of this and the bankers are not the only issue (they are a significant issue.) It is however beyond my ability to resolve it in a short post, that however does not remove my right to "rant." It makes me feel warm and fuzzy, like I have helped make the world a better place :/

    August 6, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  35. Vincent

    Rich and poor, a problem that can never solve. Just walk by ~

    August 7, 2010 at 5:05 am |
  36. Cane

    ROW must be really stupid if we let them doing it once again.

    They posted higher profits because stock markets jumped more than they predicted.

    City banker magic routine:
    They take money from "investors", they buy stocks, stocks go higher because they buy them (most likely only reason for higher stock prices), they book the profit, they take their share, they get paid huge money for that "work" and than they start all over again – until booble bursts!!! Than they post huge losses, they ask for state support and they wait for stock market to start rising again to make profit again!

    Anyone with 4 years of schooling and 3000+ GBP suit can be a City banker...

    August 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  37. Mike

    Love the way everyone deludes themselves that bankers are the only ones to blame for the recession.

    The WHOLE world economy gorged on cheap credit and lived way above its means, overpaying for houses and buying unneeded items on credit like there was no tomorrow. Well, tomorrow came and we are living it.

    In blaming the banks all we're doing is deflecting blame off ourselves.

    And now we are angry with bankers because they are not allowing joe sixpack to withdraw equity from his overvalued house anymore and he can't by his 50" flatscreen TV.

    August 10, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  38. jones29

    take 100% resposibility of your own card, not 99.99% and stop blaming and judging everyone who is right or wrong it is because that's the "business world" they got from you and to everyone else.

    August 12, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  39. Ahmed

    Everyone complains when they get the wrong end of the stick,try to place yourselves in their shoes rather than criticize what has been going on from the dawn of time,rich oppressing the masses.

    August 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  40. Lim Boon Chuan

    Too big to fail banks become bigger to fail banks. Given that the CEOs can gamble at will; when they lost, the tax payers bail them out, when they win, they receive fat pay checks and bonuses. Of course it is partying as usual.

    August 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  41. CN-MR.ALEX

    get their picture taken on a pricey bed between two lively lingerie models. the sound as nice idea! but this games is not for poor man~

    August 16, 2010 at 6:22 am |
  42. charles frankkling

    I know that the great majority of banking workers are just guys and gals that drudge on day to day for no more reward than the so called outside world offers.
    I was one of the winners back in the eighties, worked for an American Bank, got what was then a large bonus, 32 percent of my decent salary every other month, and 22 percent of annual salary at christmas for five good years, with this I bought a garden flat in Notting-hill,London which I still own and lease out via. a local estate agency.
    I live in Berkshire with my Wife and Daughter and continue my Accountancy co. but now it's farm accounts that keep us alive here in the hills and woods.
    I have very wealthy indeed relatives living in Chelsea who never lifted a finger to obtain and enjoy that wealth..so I do not intend to continue bashing bankers, who are not always Eton and Oxbridge, ( I am, but that's that) and who have earned their positions by hard graft.
    We need the banking sector to do well here the UK. when I was in the Sector it was under very strict supervision, each and every friday by 5pm a Bank of England designed template had to be delivered to the Bank of England by 5pm.
    A sep. report had to be delivered to the banking supervision authorities in the USA.
    And on the following monday lots of answers had to be provided to both.
    So let the banks get strong again, under good supervision and management, but lets also not forget that without risk the returns shall always be small.
    one last thing, lots of those small companies whining on about banks not lending to them, are at the wall because of bad inner practice, no real market for thier goods or services..and the very people that the banks should have turned down before the crash.
    banks have models, if the would be borrower does not score well in these models, then the loan is too risky..it's that simple...the banks shall repay the public loans, with interest, and should continue to be closely watched and supervised, but do not tell them what the business of banking entails...its an old an original type of making a good living
    So lets keep it strict, but let them get on..we shall be better for it.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:15 am |
  43. giveahoot

    What the average person can NOT GRASP is the fact that THEY THEMSELF have created the Banker and what he represents..... you have taken their credit cards so you could buy what you wanted cause you did not want to wait till you payday to buy it..........you have bought your new vehicle and over paid for you home to keep up with the Jones next door............... the banker has only taken advantage of your self greed.

    YOU CREATED THE MONSTER THAT IT IS!

    August 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  44. Free Thinker

    New World order looks like its paying Out for the elite while Simple folks Get trod on . Did they Mention IMF Bancor Proposal The One world Currencie Thats to Come. First week November should be interesting , as the Whole world whatches Economy Crumbel!
    Is every one sleeping or is Just me that can see whats happening ?

    August 31, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  45. Michael

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xrGiEYj5I4

    Yep. Keep it up guys.........

    September 10, 2010 at 7:47 am |
  46. pegleg

    can't take the $$ with u to heaven –hopefully the elevator will travel to the top when they realize at 70 what else is there to the "satisfaction" of having money....emptyness . it's just bragging rights but it doesn't matter

    September 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
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