Letter: Banks' triple test

John McTernan made several good points in his critique (Perspective, 30 November) of Vince Cable's facile oversimplifications, and John Cridland of the CBI has recently argued for an end to "the demonisation of the banks".

But we now learn from Terry Murden (Business, 4 December) that banks are, as feared, merely exchanging bonuses for basic salaries, with the latter rising by 20 per cent in the past year to an average 97,500 for all investment bank staff .

So the rest of us might just be able to consider de-demonising them, if the bankers:

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a) convince us, as none has yet even tried to do, of their justification of pay levels so much higher than those in other global industries that are equally dependent on recruiting and retaining the best talent worldwide, and which are less "socially useless" than many banking activities, in Lord Turner's immortal words;

b) reveal the full extent of their dodgy debts, the lack of transparency has again come to light with the Irish developments of recent weeks;

c) produce credible proposals to reform their industry so no bank would ever need a taxpayer bail-out as it was "too big to fail". After all, it is more than three years since Northern Rock's demise.


Horseleys Park

St Andrews, Fife