Here's the latest from Our Highly Placed Professional
'I don't sympathise with much of what hapless Labour leader Ed Miliband comes out with, but I have to confess a sneaking sense of admiration for a politician who is prepared to consider imposing extra tax burdens on businesses that damage society.
Of course, the idea is so nebulous, headline grabbing and otherwise full of holes (like who will be the supreme arbiter of what is a 'damaging' business ?) that it brings a slightly quizzical chuckle of laughter to most of us. But I have often argued that certain aspects of hedge fund and 'asset stripping' activity can indeed cause a lot of damage to the population at large, and we also know to our cost what havoc rumor-mongering, risk-hungry traders can wreak on our society.
You will never win one of these arguments, though, because it's hard to prove damage, and even harder to regulate. Nevertheless it comes as some surprise to see that a trader, Alessio Rastani, appeared on the BBC this week openly wishing for a massive global recession in order to profit from it via his trading strategies. Now that was fairly brazen - even by our industry's (rather low) standards.
Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned (or simply past it), but I've always felt a certain distaste when higher unemployment numbers meant higher bond prices, and traders used to whoop with joy when they saw the latest releases. There's surely something wrong with a society when traders can profit from the suffering of their fellow citizens.
Personally I would simply rather die than sit at home in front of a computer, gambling away on the markets and hoping that the world goes tits up - surely a lonely, mean and curiously dispiriting game for anyone to play.
Money has a way of making people forget the purely decent things in life. Like being patriotic, caring for our fellow citizens, actually giving a monkey's when neighbours and friends lose their jobs. Please don't tell me that it's cool to wish for bad things to happen just so one or two traders and hedge fund-types can make out like bandits.
I find myself agreeing with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who recently said that the government 'should concentrate on creating good citizens, rather than good consumers'. And it's surely time we stopped crowing about profiting out of other people's misery'.
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