Thursday, 17 September 2009

Archbishop attacks the bonus culture

Hot on the heels of the Trade Union leaders, The Archbishop of Canterbury has attacked the bonus culture of the City, and condemned the failure of bankers to repent for their excesses.

Dr Rowan Williams believes that the Government should have acted to cap bonuses and warned that the gap between rich and poor would lead to an increasingly "dysfunctional" society. His comments, which were made on the BBC 2 Newsnight programme, have been summarised in The Times.

Dr Williams said: "There hasn't been a feeling of closure about what happened last year. There hasn't been what I would, as a Christian, call repentance. We haven't heard people saying 'well actually, no, we got it wrong and the whole fundamental principle on which we worked was unreal, empty'." Looking to the future, he expressed his concern by stating, "What we are looking at is the possibility of a society getting more and more dysfunctional if the levels of inequality that we have seen in the last couple of decades are not challenged." He also said that the crisis was a lesson that "economics is too important to be left to economists". His interview also referred to a sense of "bafflement" and "muted anger" at the bonus culture. "I think that's one of those things that feeds the . . . diffused resentment, that people are somehow getting away with a culture in which the connection between the worth of what you do and the reward you get becomes more obscure."

  • How do you think that the comments made by the Archbishop will be received in the City?
  • There will be those who believe that finance should be left to the experts, and therefore do not consider Dr Williams’s comments to be useful or helpful. What’s your view?
  • Concern over the salaries of Chief Executives and the continuation of the bonus culture has led to a number of comments being made about the morality and ethics of the UK finance industry. Should economics and ethics be kept separate, or is that simply impossible?

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