Sanity Check: ‘Revolt Over Risks of Elite Class of Bankers’

The Financial Times’ John Gapper makes some remarks in his latest comment at the Financial Times, “Revolt Over Risks of Elite Class of Bankers,” that I found surprising:

The common thread of this week’s events is that national depositors and taxpayers are revolting against the idea that they should bear the risks of international finance and permit an elite class of global bankers such as Mr Adoboli – or the feckless citizens of other countries – to take the rewards. As they draw back, global financial regulation is creaking at the seams.

In some ways, this is a shame. It is the financial equivalent of the trade protectionism that erupted after the 1929 crash, when the US and other countries raised tariffs. But it is not surprising. Investment bankers in the City and on Wall Street have done little to earn back favour after the recent bail-outs.

I have trouble with the idea that there ever was “global financial regulation”. Basel II was never implemented in the US.Even the initial Basel accord was implemented by national regulators and my understanding was that it was tweaked somewhat in various nations. There has been more communication and cooperation between national banking regulators post crisis, but that is not tantamount to international regulation.

Gapper may be seeing something I am missing, but from my US vantage, nothing has changed from what I wrote in ECONNED (published March 2010):

The firms that had been silently drained of capital and tied together in shadowy counterparty links teetered, fell, and looked certain to perish. There was one last capital reserve to tap, U.S. taxpayers, to revive the financial system and make the innovators whole. Widespread anger turned into sullen resignation as the public realized its opposition to the looting was futile.

A question to readers:

Has there been a meaningful change in sentiment towards major financial players in the UK and Europe? Is the public fed up enough with bankers that politicians might be forced to take action?

This post originally appeared at naked capitalism and is reproduced here with permission.