Banking is a profitable business, which pays well -- if you're an executive. Linda McQuaig writes:
The country's six largest banks are dishing out $15 billion in bonuses this year. But, in the eyes of some, this isn't enough.
Certainly, the notion of bankers suffering as they gorge on $15 billion in bonuses highlights the cavernous gap between the world enjoyed by those at the top and the one occupied by the struggling masses, including bodies we step over on sidewalks surrounding our bank towers.
It also reveals how misleading media reports can be, particularly about high finance, with insiders allowed to peddle their self-serving agendas unchallenged.
Bill Vlaad, president of Vlaad & Co., which monitors bank compensation trends, described the $15-billion payout to bank executives as bleak, while noticing that it could have been worse: "'It could very well have been a bloodbath."
Vlaad's complaint, McQuaig writes, is absurd -- particularly given the protected status of banks:
Banks enjoy a protected position at the top of the Canadian economy. With roots stretching back to before Confederation, the big banks represent the very heart of the Canadian establishment. Over the years, they've developed deeply entrenched connections to Ottawa's governing parties, making it difficult for newcomers to break in.
No matter how enterprising or innovative a Canadian citizen might be, she can't just go out and open a bank. She needs a charter from the federal government, and these aren't easy to obtain.
Yet, despite their privileged perch, Canada's big six banks have gotten away with paying extremely low taxes -- the lowest in the G7. Partly by using tax havens, our wildly profitable banks have managed to reduce their taxes to a rate that is about one-third of the rate paid by other Canadian businesses, according to a 2017 Toronto Star investigation.
And, because they claim the pickings are slim, the banks have been cutting services:
In recent years, they've shut down branches across the country, leaving hundreds of rural and remote communities without a local branch. They've also declined to offer banking services to many low-income people, obliging almost two million Canadians a year to pay the hair-raising interest rates charged by payday loan operators.
Yet, proposals that Canada Post offer banking services at its 6,200 outlets across the country have been opposed by the big banks, which insist that they serve Canadians well.
Clearly, it's more profitable to take the money in than it is to redistribute it.