【英语财经】如何驯服银行家? How to tame litter louts and bankers

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2014-6-16 06:34

小艾摘要: People have learnt to drop litter in a bin rather than where they happen to be standing. In the same way, bankers can be taught to act decently and not plunge the world’s financial system into crisis ...
How to tame litter louts and bankers
People have learnt to drop litter in a bin rather than where they happen to be standing. In the same way, bankers can be taught to act decently and not plunge the world’s financial system into crisis again.

That was the message from Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, in a speech last week to a London conference on inclusive capitalism.

Ms Lagarde was clear that bankers still needed lessons in acting decently. “The behaviour of the financial sector has not changed fundamentally,” she said, adding: “The industry still prizes short-term profit over long-term prudence, today’s bonus over tomorrow’s relationship.”

Top banks had been “mired in scandals that violate the most basic ethical norms – Libor and foreign exchange rigging, money laundering, illegal foreclosure”. Banks, she said, needed “greater social consciousness” – and this is where litter came in.

“We can draw some parallels here with our expanding environmental consciousness. Not so long ago, we had much higher levels of pollution, and littering was commonplace. Today, we are more educated about these issues,” Ms Lagarde said.

Can we really apply litter lessons to financial services? It depends what sort of litter. There are three main groups who mess up their local environment: those who drop food wrappings and cigarette ends in streets and parks; those who do not clean up after dogs; and those who throw rubbish out of car windows.

You need different strategies for each. In 2001 and 2006, the Keep Britain Tidy campaign researched why people dropped litter.

One of the litter-droppers’ justifications was that “everyone does it”. If the streets are full of rubbish, what harm is there in adding a little more?

The answer, the campaign said, was to clean the streets and put more bins in litter “hotspots”. What was the outcome? Litter levels in England have fluctuated, but 15 per cent of areas were unacceptably littered in 2012-2013 compared with 21 per cent a decade earlier.

The greatest improvement was in those cleaning up after their dogs. When Keep Britain Tidy surveyed dog owners in 2001, they gave the “everyone does it” excuse for not cleaning up. By 2006, attitudes, and behaviour, were different. There was less dog waste around.

“People were saying they cleaned up after their dogs, it was socially unacceptable not to and if they didn’t other people would tell them to,” the campaign reported.

This matches my experience in London, where my walks are punctuated by dog owners gingerly carrying filled bags to the designated bins. (The clean-up-after-your-dog ethos had not spread to Ms Lagarde’s native Paris last time I was there; perhaps readers can let us know whether it has since.)

The worst litter louts are in their cars. In the UK, you don’t need data to confirm this. The roadsides are a disgrace. No one can see who you are when you toss rubbish out the window and the chances of being caught and punished are tiny.

Where, in this mixed picture, do bankers fit? Clearly in the throwing-rubbish-from-the-car category. The reason for the improvements in street litter and dog waste is that others can see you. Once enough people disapprove, it becomes more shameful to leave litter and dog waste behind.

Banking misdemeanours, like throwing rubbish out of a car, occur in relative privacy. Children may start protesting about parents destroying the environment, but it is harder for honest bankers to object to colleagues’ misbehaviour. Whistleblowers are not treated kindly.

Bankers do have to put up with some opprobrium from neighbours, the media and politicians, but they can retreat to their offices and trading floors – and their financial rewards provide comfort.

The only way to deal with errant bankers, and those who throw rubbish out of car windows, is to catch and punish them.

If camera operators can film and fine drivers who stop on criss-cross lines at junctions, they can do the same to motorised mess-makers.

And if regulators can impose fines on banks for Libor rigging, manipulating the London gold fix or tax evasion, they can prosecute many more individuals, particularly at the top.

In finance, as in littering from cars, punishment and shaming are likely to be bigger deterrents than hoping for social consciousness.

人们已经学会了将垃圾丢进垃圾桶里,而不是随地乱丢。同样,银行家也能被教会做事要守规矩、不把世界金融体系再度拖入危机。

国际货币基金组织(IMF)总裁克里斯蒂娜?拉加德(Christine Lagarde)近日在伦敦一个关于包容性资本主义的大会上做演讲时(见右图),想表达的正是上面这一点。

拉加德明确指出,银行家在守规矩方面仍需要上上课。“金融业的行为并没有发生根本性的改变,”她说,“该行业仍把短期利润放在长期审慎之上,把当下的奖金放在将来的关系之上。”

大牌银行已“陷入违反最基本道德规范的丑闻,包括操纵伦敦银行间同业拆借利率(Libor)和汇率、洗钱、非法止赎”。她表示,银行需要“增强社会意识”——乱丢垃圾的问题便在此时登场了。

拉加德说:“我们在此可以拿我们逐渐增强的环保意识做些类比。不久以前,污染程度比现在高得多,乱丢垃圾也是司空见惯的事。现在,我们在这些问题上变得更有教养了。”

我们真的能将对乱丢垃圾的教育应用于金融服务业吗?答案取决于说的是何种乱丢垃圾行为。破坏自身周边环境的主要有三大人群:将食品包装或烟头丢在街上和公园里的人,不清理狗狗便便的人,以及将垃圾丢到车窗外的人。

针对不同的人群,你需要使用不同的对策。在2001和2006年,“清洁不列颠”(Keep Britain Tidy)运动对人们乱丢垃圾的原因进行了调查。

乱丢垃圾者给出的一个理由是,“大家都这样做”。如果街道上到处都是垃圾,再多加一点又有何妨呢?

“清洁不列颠”运动表示,这个问题的解决之道是清理街道,并在乱丢垃圾现象严重的“热点”地区设置更多垃圾桶。结果如何?在英格兰,乱丢垃圾的程度虽有起伏,但2012年至2013年间,只有15%的地区乱丢垃圾现象严重到令人无法接受,而这一数字在十年前却是21%。

改善最大的是清理狗狗便便的人群。2001年,狗狗的主人们在接受“清洁不列颠”运动调查时,以“大家都这样做”为由替自己不清理狗狗便便的行为辩解。到了2006年,他们的态度和行为都有所改变。随处可见的狗屎减少了。

“人们说他们会清理狗狗的便便,不然的话不会得到社会的接受。而且,如果他们不清理,其他人也会叫他们清理,”该运动的报告称。

这与我在伦敦碰到的情况相符。在伦敦,我散步时常碰到狗狗的主人小心翼翼地提着装得满满当当的袋子,走到指定的垃圾桶丢掉。(而上次我到拉加德的故乡巴黎时,“请清理您狗狗的便便”(Clean-up-after-your-dog)的道德观还没传到那儿;也许读者可以告诉我们后来是否传到了。)

最差劲的乱丢垃圾者是那些坐在车里的人。在英国,你无需任何数据就能证实这一点。英国的路边是个不光彩的地方。当你将垃圾丢到车窗外时,没人能看出你是谁,被抓到和受惩罚的概率微乎其微。

在这个混合的画面中,银行家符合哪类人群?显然符合“从车里乱丢垃圾”的人群。在街道上乱丢垃圾和不清理狗便的现象之所以有所改善,是因为其他人能够看到你。当有足够多的人不认同时,乱丢垃圾和不清理狗便的行为就变得愈发可耻。

如同从车里往外丢垃圾,银行业的不端行为也发生得相对较为隐蔽。孩子们或许开始对父母破坏环境的行为提出异议,但诚实的银行家反对同事不当行为的难度却要大一些。告密者不会得到善待。

银行家的确要忍受邻居、媒体和政治人士的责难,但他们能够躲到办公室和交易大厅里“避难”——他们的报酬也能给他们带来慰藉。

对付不守规矩的银行家以及向车窗外丢垃圾的人的唯一办法是,抓住他们并给予惩罚。

如果监控摄像头操作人员能拍下把车停在交叉路口黄格线上的驾车者、并对其处以罚款,那么他们也能对从行驶的车中向外乱丢垃圾的人做同样的事情。

而如果监管机构能对操控Libor、操纵伦敦黄金定盘价或逃税的银行处以罚款,那么它们就能检举更多的个人,特别是高层人士。

就像从车里乱丢垃圾的例子一样,在金融业,惩罚和羞辱很可能会比对社会意识抱有期待更能起到威慑作用。

译者/Cindy Pai

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