Posts Tagged ‘the press’

You won’t like me when I’m angry

April 5, 2010

» Life with the seedy men of the City

This article made me so angry. Aside from the obvious stereotyping which only works to discourage women from seeking jobs in the city, and the lack of emphasis on one of the key issues – a skills gap with not enough women applying for scientific and mathematical subjects at degree level – there’s just the bad journalism. The facile joining together of a parliamentary report about the under-representation of women and individual horror stories. It would be just as easy to link the report with my blog and say “investment banking is a beacon of equality”. Neither is true.

The report rings a bell at the moment because I am mentoring a graduate. The key job, as I understand it, is convincing her that this kind of rubbish is not true. So that’s really helped: discouraging women from applying to roles in banking because we’re all monsters.

I’m not even taking it personally that I’m dismissed as having the mentality of a teenager. Mostly because I do have the mentality of a teenager. It’s weird. It’s like it almost knows me.

However, quote of the day must be:

“It devolves responsibility to the City to remedy the problem, as reports did in the 1960s, since which time nothing has changed,” said Lawrence Davies, of the solicitors Equal Justice. “People who profit from discrimination do not get their houses in order until there is an economic imperative to do so. The average award in a sex discrimination case is £12,000, the cost of an average corporate lunch.”

I’m eating at all the wrong restaurants.


Open Europe: the Eurosceptic group that controls British coverage of the EU

April 4, 2010

» Open Europe: the Eurosceptic group that controls British coverage of the EU

An interesting article from Charlemagne, writing for The Economist. Regardless of your view of the EU, it is an interesting insight into how lobbyists influence the press.

I may be a banker, but HE’S a journalist

February 5, 2010

I am a banker; I am scum. This is a given.I have accepted it. I am no longer in the closet. Others, though, remain there.

Two interesting examples of interactions with journalists (financial journalists, I have yet to come to the attention of the tabloid press) that our corporate communications department had …

“So, rumour has it you’re going to buy bank ‘X’.”
“We do not comment on this kind of market rumour.”
“So that’s a ‘yes’.”
“No, it’s a reflection of the fact that we don’t comment on this kind of market rumour.”
“So that’s definitely a yes. We’re going to print it.”
“Errrr …”
“Look, you really shouldn’t print it.”
“That’s definitely a yes.”
“You shouldn’t print it because it’s completely, utterly, unambiguously false. You’ll harm your reputation, our share price, artificially inflate the price of the stock, mislead the market and generally cause nothing but harm.”
“But I’ve written it now.”

And …

“So, we’re releasing this new product.”
“Sounds good.”
“Planning the press release next week.”
“I’m out next week.”
“Ri-i-i-i-ight. So could someone else write it?”
“Would you feel comfortable with us giving the story to another newspaper?”
“No. I’ll write a very negative story when I’m back.”
“So, we’ll delay the go-live.”

I do not think anyone actually thinks journalists are nice people, but I suspect most people think they tell the truth. Well they do. If it’s useful. Otherwise they, errr, fill in the gaps. Truth is so last century. Even this, I suspect, is not a surprise to most people.

What is surprising is how riled we do get about what the press reports. Given that significant proportions of it are untruth, manipulation, distortion or taken out-of-context it does surprise me that we bother.

With bigger bonuses, another upside for banks

January 2, 2010

» With bigger bonuses, another upside for banks

It’s a strange news story

For all banks and Wall Street firms, “I’m sure we’re talking $200 billion total compensation, which would create a tax savings for the firms of $80 billion,” said Robert Willens, an accounting and tax analyst in New York who runs a consulting firm, Robert Willens LLC. The figure does not include bonus plans by hedge funds, which are likely to reduce their payouts after a down year.

The tax deductions, which will increase the bottom line of the banks, are perfectly legal and not new. They come as compensation for 2009 has roared back after the largest banks paid back billions of dollars in federal aid, an outlay still fresh in the minds of taxpayers. As pay goes up, so do the deductions.

Its category as news is questionable – there is nothing new here – but it is an interesting example of outrage. The more companies pay people, the more tax-deductable costs that they have. This, though, is presented as an extremely sly tax fiddle. (One would think that paying out more costs is generally seen as a negative when it comes to the profit-hungry vampiric organisation that is an investment bank, but perhaps not.)

The most likely culprits are a slow news day or a self-publicist, or possibly both in a thrilling combination. Still, we all have to make our money somehow.

JP Morgan London headquarters plan in doubt

December 30, 2009

» JP Morgan may drop HQ plans

JP Morgan have, it is alleged, threatened not to build their very nice new building because of the bonus tax. Several possibilities:

The facts are intriguingly vague. JP Morgan have not actually threatened not to build their shiny new building, but the possibility has been raised by “a senior J.P. Morgan executive“. The building is supposed to cost £1.5 billion versus a bonus tax which is supposed to raise almost a third of that.

However, there is no detail to say that the alleged executive knows anything about it, was sober at the time of speaking or even exists. On the other hand, perhaps its Jamie Dimon, the head of JPM himself, applying more pressure on the government. Also, it’s really just a new building – valuable for builders, but not really a threat to withdraw jobs, and it’s the jobs issue (or rather, London’s precious status as a financial centre) which the government has heard most about. The following quote (from another JPM executive) is also worthy of note:

There were no threats made on the call and we have made no decisions on people or buildings based on the super-tax announcement.

All we really know is that the head of JPM had a chat with the chancellor and said he was not entirely happy about the bonus tax, which is not really surprising. If he had praised it, that would have been a more solid news story.

It’s a hard life

December 18, 2009

Well no, no it’s not. Bankers who feel sorry for themselves are a bit like politicians who make moral judgements or newspaper columnists who complain about people being overpaid: hypocrisy crystallised.

That said, it does make you wonder how much of the fervent politician hatred that we’ve experienced since the expenses furore is driven by hard facts, and how much is just, well, our love of outrage. I’d continue with the same theme about newspaper columnists, but this area of potential injustice appears surprisingly under-reported.

Facts, alas, are in short supply. I could pretend I’m trying to bring facts to the debate – but really, it’s just my opinion. But at least I don’t confuse the two.