Banking as a force for good?

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With Labour ministers lambasting bonuses, is now the time to start shouting about the good things investment banks and bankers do?

Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI, has hit back against last weekend's call by Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Minister, for bankers to donate two thirds of their bonuses to charity.

To sidestep detractors like Hain - who claim the City's famously large pay packages are fomenting envy and social discontent - Lambert says City finance and private equity firms need to do a bit more to broadcast the benefits they deliver.

These include (according to Lambert) the creation of jobs in related sectors such as law, accounting and management consulting, a growing share of GDP, a fifth of all corporate tax revenues, and a 20bn contribution to the balance of payments.

David Charters, author and ex-Deutsche Bank MD, points out that City banks, and their bankers, are also increasingly generous charitable givers: "Pretty much everyone at MD level is giving something back to charity - people have become more open about it in the last five years."

And Charters points to former bankers like Tom Hughes-Hallett, chief executive of Marie-Curie Cancer Care, who having made their money, have gone on to do something for the wider good instead: "The City releases people at a very early age to go and do other things while they're still young and energetic enough to make a difference."

What do you think? Is investment banking (and are investment banking bonuses) a good or bad thing for society as whole? Add your comment and let us know.

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