Bankers party while poorest are getting poorer

August 9, 2011

Posted by Olga Golichenko

Action for Global Health Advocacy Officer

"Only bankers will save the world" claims a poster at the City party

"Only bankers will save the world" claims a poster at the City party

“Only bankers will save the world” read a poster depicting a superhero at the City’s biggest banker summer party. I wonder where these Banker superheroes were during the recent financial crisis?

As a result of the financial crisis, around 120 million more people are now living on less than US$2 a day and 89 million more on less than US$1.25 a day. Despite the effects of financial crisis remaining for ordinary people (ongoing cuts, unemployment, donors cutting health and development programmes in poor countries) the City continues to celebrate its prosperity.

From this perspective, the party’s luxurious entertainments, such as gambling tables, expensive massage, champagne, super luxury products and dancers look a little misplaced. You can see a gallery of the bankers party here.

No wonder the party provoked public outrage last year as the organisers themselves wrote. Despite the ongoing crisis and in the face of public feeling they still went ahead with the party yet again this year.

Financial sector has abundant resources

The party’s luxurious entertainments included expensive massages, gambling tables and exotic dancers

The party’s luxurious entertainments included gambling tables, massages and dancers

The financial sector is traditionally under-taxed relative to the rest of the economy. Profits and bonuses are immense. City bonuses for 2010 were £6.7 billion, enough money to provide free healthcare to 250 million people in developing countries.

Signs of extra profit and big bonuses were abundant at this year’s City party. For example bankers were paying £10 for a 10 minute head and neck massage. For a comparison, £2 could pay for a day of therapeutic milk for a child so severely malnourished they cannot even eat.

Expensive champagne was being quaffed in large amounts whilst 1 billion people lack access to safe water.

One of party entertainments was subscription to “small luxury hotels of the world”. 1 billion people worldwide live in slums and the figure will likely grow to 2 billion by 2030.

This is not about the world being equal, it is about being fairer. While 40,000 children die of hunger-related causes every day it is just not fair that others enjoy super high luxury.

During 4 hours of the City party, 120 children died around the world as a result of AIDS. Only around 28 per cent of children in need of antiretroviral therapy have access to it. Unfortunately, this is not on bankers’ superhero mind…

A Financial Transaction Tax for global health

There is an opportunity here for a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), including for global health. Between 2009 and 2015 there is estimated $488 billion gap in resources to support health of the poorest, including $127.4 billion for newborn, maternal, child health, $125 billion for responding to HIV and AIDS, at least $27 billion for addressing malaria, at least $28 billion for eliminating TB as well as $68 billion for sustaining and developing human resources for health.

Governments could ensure some of the excess wealth in the financial sector is put to better use in the world, helping to make amends for the damage caused by the financial crisis. Comprehensive innovative financing mechanisms, such as an FTT, a tiny tax of just 0.05% on the casino bankers’ trading that could raise billions a year could help us achieve that.

Read more about an FTT for Global Health in the brief developed and supported by 14 organisations and many other individuals.

This is not a pipedream – the European Parliament is in support, as are France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and others. Sarkozy has made it one of his priorities for France’s Presidency of the G20. Whilst the bankers are partying, we are taking huge steps towards implementing an FTT that will raise billions that could be used to fight global health problems, poverty and climate change in developed, middle-income and developing countries.

If the bankers really wanted to be seen as superheros, supporting an FTT that will make a huge contribution to the world’s less fortunate would be a good start.

Action for Global Health is a European network of health and development organisations calling for the EU and its member states to play a more proactive role in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Our work focuses on three specific issues: getting more money for health, making health care accessible to those that need it most, and strengthening health systems to make them better equipped to cope with challenges and respond to people’s needs. In the UK, Action for Global Health is represented by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Interact Worldwide and TB Alert, and works with a growing number of other NGOs.

Visit the Action for Global Health website to learn more about their work.

Video: The Robin Hood Tax Campaign gatecrashes the bankers’ bash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>