Bankers lack a sense of decency

Habituated to coddling power, our media has brought us tiny crumbs from CEO and managers that brought down our house. But Germany’s Spiegel interviewed the leader of the largest reinsurer in the world, a firm large enough to insure insurance companies, and he’s not happy with bankers.

Spiegel OnlineThese days many managers are acting as if the economic crisis were a force of nature that has struck the world.

Bomhard: The staggering dimensions of this crisis were in fact surprising for everyone, but it was — in contrast to an earthquake — created by people.

Spiegel: Greedy people.

Bomhard: People, in any case, whose actions are far more difficult to calculate than something like the probability of a tsunami in a certain region.

Spiegel: Calculating probabilities of all kinds is what you do for a living.

Bomhard: We reach our limits with such complex situations. But it was clear that something was brewing. It was merely a question of when the storm would hit.

Spiegel: The high bonuses are now being questioned in many countries — in the United States as well as in Great Britain and Switzerland.

Bomhard: And with very good reason. I very often hear from bankers the argument that they only pay bonuses because the competition does so as well. I think that with another business philosophy and corporate culture you can also pay people differently. If I offer exorbitant sums as a reward …

Spiegel: … I want mercenaries …

Bomhard: … and that’s usually what I get. And of course large, short-term bonuses basically accelerated the crisis.

While FOX News blathers mud in the eye and major networks fluff, the Euro and Asia press more often press:

Spiegel: Many bankers lack understanding, sensibility — or let’s call it a sense of decency.

Bomhard: It is regrettable, but also part of human nature, that assuming high-ranking positions involves a certain amount of distancing from normal life.