Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Banking Crises, Please!

It's always dangerous to get your news from The Daily Show, but I loved their satirical piece comparing the US banking system and the Canadian banking system: US--low regulations, 16 crises since 1790; Canada--high regulation, 0 crises through all the panics, depressions, recessions, bubbles and every other euphemistic nomenclature for periods of savings losses and credit problems. "Man"-on-the-Toronto street loves his/her banker. "Man"-on-the-NYC street loathes his/her banker. (The number of crises was reported by the Wall Street Journal back in April based on research by a Columbia University professor.)

The trend for bankers in the honesty/ethics poll has not been good. The percentage of those who don't rate bankers' honesty/ethics high has grown from 72%. The nadir had been in the late 70's and early 80's when it had dropped to 60%. (To be fair, business executives and car salespeople have higher disapproval ratings. Members of Congress are now almost on par with car peddlers.)

People at the top of the poll? Nurses, pharmacists, doctors, dentists (all this despite the extremely high cost of medical care--which probably contributes to the low rating for HMO managers) and engineers and police officers (despite our suspicions about police violence). Engineers are now enjoying their highest approval ratings ever, having gone from 48% (high/very high honesty and ethics) to 70%. Police officers' approvals starting climbing post-9/11.

But the real question is how have engineers as a group redeemed themselves? And how can business executives and bankers likewise recover esteem in the public's heart?

We know it won't be through any increase of ethics training. That just doesn't work.

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