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Bankers, Bonuses and Bad Reputations – Financial Crisis Vocabulary

From news stories it is hard to like bankers, especially in these difficult economic times. Before, English people always used to hate estate agents and builders. Now, for many, bankers are their least favourite people.

Banks and the Crisis

Banks have taken a lot of blame for triggering the credit crunch with the packaging of sub-prime mortgages and toxic debts. This is made worse by the accusations made against major banks such as Goldman Sachs for fraud. Unsurprisingly, many have called for stricter regulations of the banking industry. The fact that we, the tax payers, had to bail out so many banks, in effect nationalising some of Britain’s more famous names makes the situation worse. Not only British banks though, as we also contributed to the Irish bailout back in November.

The Numbers

The figures involved are just astonishing - £850 billion (£850,000,000,000) has been mentioned for the period up to 2010 for banks in general and £7 billion for Ireland. Compare this to the £81 billion planned government deficit spending cuts, which will lead to thousands of job losses, or the £80-85 billion spent on education each year.

Bonus Bonanza

Then throw in the bonus culture that surrounds banks and the numbers look even more ridiculous. Royal Bank of Scotland received a bailout of £45.5 billion in the two years after the crisis started but will have given £2 billion in bonuses 2010 and 2011. No wonder they are often described as fat cats.

Nice People?

It is not helped by the fact that so many of them, from their comments in the press, seem to be quite dislikeable people. Thank god, then, for Rudolf Elmer, who has decided to make a stand against Swiss banking laws and how they encourage shady financial practices by giving incriminating documents to Wikileaks.

Glossary

Credit crunch
another name for the financial crisis
Packaging of sub-prime mortgages and toxic debts
financial instruments used by banks Fraud – the crime where you in some way trick people to make money
To bail out / a bailout
when somebody saves somebody else, now strongly associated with the government saving companies or the EU saving Greece and Ireland.
Figures
another word for ‘numbers’ or ‘statistics’.
Government deficit spending cuts
the government plan to save money by spending less
Bonus culture
the system of giving very large bonuses to certain people in the banking sector, often many times more than their annual salary.
Shady practices
almost illegal or very suspicious actions
Incriminating documents
documents which suggest criminal activity
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