Saturday, 30 June 2012

Bob the Banker

Bob Diamond: Would you Trust this Man?
Villain of the week for the global chattering classes is Bob Diamond, an American banker with an epic string of titles. He is 'Group Chief Executive of Barclays plc’, ‘CE of Corporate & Investment Banking and Wealth Management’, and ‘Executive Director of the Boards of Barclays plc and Barclays Bank plc’.  It reminds me of the Homeric King (basileus) Agamemnon, King of Kings, Most Kingy (basileutatos) even among the Very Kingy Indeed, and of All Islands King.

Bob's Hair Colourant
When I was young, Barclay’s made profits from the oppressive regimes of a cabal of South American military dictators. But the bank is now dodgily fixing LIBOR. The process of secretly manipulating something that sounds like a mixture of LIQUOR, LIVER and LIBERTINE (actually the London Interbank Offered Rate) is (bizarrely) perceived as Going Too Far even by the totally amoral community of high financiers. 

'The Death of Crassus' by Pierre Cousteau (1555)
I don’t myself understand the casuistic distinctions which self-styled ‘virtuous’ bankers draw between themselves and Diamond. Surely all financially creamed-off ‘property’ is theft? But Diamond really is under pressure to resign. David Cameron, whose personal fortune derives partly from his ancestors’ profession of helping rich people evade taxes, is on one of his hypocritical high horses. He is demanding that Diamond’s head rolls.

I personally would like to see Bob force-fed molten gold, the retribution which Cassius Dio says the Parthians devised for the avaricious Roman General Crassus who thirsted for their wealth. Somewhere in Turkmenistan there is a golden replica of Crassus’ oesophagus. 

But perhaps for Bob Diamond we need a punishment that has to do with diamonds instead. I would also enjoy sentencing him to hard labour, with the status of illegal immigrant, in a dangerous diamond mine where trade unions were banned.  

The Very Fishy Alex Salmond
It is fun to associate prominent people’s names with their trades or physiognomy:  the piscine First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, could not look more like a salmon if he tried. Bob Diamond could have been called ‘Gold’, or ‘Proffitt’, but ‘Diamond’, appropriately, implies unparalleled hardness as well as financial excess.  Bob Diamond is also a sponger on the rest of us. A cartoonist like Georgia Poynder (age 12) might draw him as SpongeBob DiamondPants (see fig. below).

SpongeBob Diamondpants
Even conservative estimates of Bob’s  annual salary vary between £1.3-million-plus-17-million-bonuses, and about three times that much. But speaking as a girl who knows a lot about artificial hair colorants, my question to Bob Diamond is actually this: given the enormity of your income, why don’t you invest in a better quality of hair-dye?  Don’t you agree with L’Oreal that you are self-evidently ‘worth it’?
SpongeBob Squarepants

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