A few months ago, we had a Chancellor, called Darling, although his first name escapes me for the moment, Roger, Andrew, Peter, something like that. Anyway, like most of our financial problems over the last few years, he was Scottish (and probably still is) and is largely behind us, but he popped up the other day to tell us that his bankers' bonus super tax was mostly ineffective.
Indeed, a few days ago, one of the Swiss banks in London announced that several hundred "senior" bankers in London were to be paid big retention bonuses to make up for the bonuses they didn't get in 2009. Well, frankly, what did you expect? Of course they were all going to get round the tax with a nod and a wink and a "we'll see you alright".
Hundreds of "senior" bankers in London: what do they mean by senior? Well they really mean anyone who produces serious wodges of profit, which includes every serious trader, some of whom are really quite junior. Seniority doesn't really come into it.
But the really telling part of the statement was the bank saying that they had to pay the bonuses to be competitive. Why? Super taxes apply to every one in London, so competition is only an issue if all or most of the other banks are doing the same. You don't say.
Looks like Mr [insert name here] Darling's super tax was a total fail. There hasn't been a sidestep like it since David Duckham went for the corner and cut inside the defender to score against the Scots in 1969.