With bank-bashing in vogue, bankers expect no hugs

April 28, 2010

By Kirstin Ridley

Banker bashing has become a bit of an international sport — and fraud allegations against Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs and a U.S. class-action suit against Germany’s Deutsche Bank has added more grist to the mill. So it’s small wonder that a bank lobby group struck a wistful note at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in London on Tuesday.

“No politician, for the next couple of years, is going to be close to a banker, hug a banker, be friendly to a banker,” said Mark Austen, the acting chief executive of AFME (Association for Financial Markets in Europe). “They (banks) are seen as institutions that have caused a crisis … We are still faced with a public’s anger to the banking community … It will take time to rebuild that trust.”

“The only thing we can do is be as constructive and neutral as we can possibly be.”

But some lawyers note bank lobby groups appear as powerful as ever.

From a starting point last year, in the wake of the financial crises, where regulators discussed breaking up big banks, discussions are now centering on higher capital and liquidity buffers, living wills and bank levies. “Regulators and governments in major financial jurisdictions have really backpedalled over the last year,” says one.

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