We learned on Tuesday that the fifth largest British bank, Standard Chartered, had promised the New York State regulator that it would pay a fine of 340 million Dollars for illegal transactions with Iran. The matter is not yet closed, as four other American regulatory bodies continue to pursue their enquiries on this subject.
There was a danger that the affair, dating back to last week, would get bogged down, and it had already started to poison relations between British and American financial authorities (to which I alluded in my article on the 12th August: The Goldman Sachs Affair: Corrupted Justice, or an Untouchable Financial Sector? )
What is the cause of this sudden urgency from Standard Chartered? Its image in the eyes of the public!
Similarly, on Tuesday, a Financial Times article informed us that a wide array of banks: the German Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and the Austrian Volksbanken have stopped selling products to their clients which speculate on food commodities. Not – they chant in unison – because speculation has an impact on prices (“ALL research proves the contrary!”), but because the poorly informed perception of the public leads them to imagine all sorts of underhand goings-on, and this need to be taken into consideration.
Once again: an image problem.
What does all this prove? That ‘poorly-informed’ public opinion is starting to make waves and to have some effect.
I read all this yesterday during the brief pause for Assumption, and it made me want to get up early this morning and talk to you about it: after all, it is not every day that the financial world offers us some crumbs of comfort!!…and in particular that our unceasing efforts to contribute our penny’s worth of malicious gossip to “the badly informed public perception” is at least starting to bear some fruit