Saturday, 5 September 2009

History is Bank

One year on... and some are foolish enough to believe that the 'goose that laid the golden egg' was in actual fact 'the goose that took a dump' on the economies of the West. How wrong they are. Bank shares are soaring, income from trading is on the up again - and so much so that banks are once again wealthy enough to pay multi million bonuses to their intrepid 'big swinging dicks'. Little wonder then that Gordon Brown is now blowing hot and cold over the issue of bonus restraint.

Brown was the champion of the city from the early nineties onwards. In the financial markets he saw what all politicians adore: Pixie dust. He saw that the world around us no longer had to be defined by truth, but could be defined by perception. In the case of the financial markets, this perception meant one thing: confidence.

New Labour was the first party openly to believe that politics was just a form of marketing, simply a way of getting people to believe, a means of encouraging faith. The confidence of the financial markets chimed very well with that approach, because the financial markets were marketing writ large. Brown saw how over the seventies and eighties, corporate America and corporate Britain had lost power to the financiers such as Goldsmith and Milken who could move markets, intimidate companies and influence government.

Then in 1992, Soros showed that he could go one better and actually intimidate government. Brown at this point realised that huge cash flows could alter government policy and even beguile an electorate that increasingly wanted a way of getting rich quick. That is why Brown cosied up to the bankers and why he never urged restraint on the credit derivatives markets. Confidence was high and had to remain high for New Labour to prosper. And when confidence was no longer high, Labour's prospects sank.

But Gordon Brown dealt with all of that. He saved the world. After his hyperdermic injections of capital the economies of West - once close to collapse - are now soaring. And that is once again because reality is defined by perception, by confidence, not by what is really happening. The goose is laying its golden eggs again. So why restrain it?

Oh, fair enough, there is the question of some debt that needs to be repaid one day, but Gordon can probably find some way of shoving it 'off balance sheet' - Out of sight out of mind... Maybe some kind banker will help Brown flog this debt by creating a new type of funky 'Government Derivative', or a 'Collateralised Brown Obligation'. And then everyone in the City of London can carry on doing what they always did best: Jettisoning history and living like there was no tomorrow.