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Why are bankers so cool with being hated? [Video]

June 14, 2012|By David Lazarus

The banking industry has such a bad rep, its leaders now vie for the honor of being the country's "least-hated" banker.

That's the takeaway from a New York Times story that says Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein may have snatched least-hated honors from JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon after the latter trudged to Capitol Hill this week to apologize for losing a pile of money.

It's a nice angle on a dry story, but it also highlights the astonishingly low expectations we have for the money club -- the men and women who ostensibly serve as the spark plugs for America's economic engine.

Why are bankers held in such low esteem? Let us count the ways.

They frequently act with complete disregard for established rules or ethics. Their unceasing push for fatter profits often causes them to disregard the people they're supposed to be serving (their customers and clients).

They seem to have a default setting when dealing with troubled homeowners seeking relief in the form of a refi or loan mod: No.

They never met a fee they didn't like.

They'll spend millions of dollars fighting additional regulation while at the same time indulging in the same risky behavior that keeps getting them into trouble.

Shall I go on? There's no need.

But here's a thought: What if bankers stopped behaving like Old Man Potter and started behaving more like George Bailey? What if, in other words, they stopped being content to be hated and instead tried to earn our respect?

You can say I'm a dreamer.

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