A report by Gary Anderson in the Mirror, dated 11 Dec 2011, is headed "Bankers cost each one of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce, study shows" it is marked EXCLUSIVE and the article starts "Rich bankers can today be exposed as a huge drain on society... costing the rest of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce."
The article goes on to claim that hospital cleaners create wealth because they prevent superbugs "saving the economy a fortune" and that tax accountants cost us £47 for every £1 they produce. The source for all this is a study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), but oddly enough Mr Anderson does not appear to even know the name of the study. Needless to say there is no link to it. One might think at this point that the alarm bells would start ringing, but no -dozens of people have tweeted and re-tweeted this story without checking any further. Most of them along the lines of 'Bankers cost each one of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce, study shows'.
Four or five minutes research reveals that far from remotely being anything remotely resembling an exclusive for Mr Anderson, the Guardian's Phillip Inman had already covered the story on 14 December 2009. Yes, that's right 2009. This is a very old story.
The 2009 NEF report is entitled A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions
When any report comes to such an extraordinary conclusion it is always sensible to see what methodology is being used, and Appendix 2 on page 30 of the report tells us:
"Our model assumes that the financial crisis and recession would not have happened were it not for highly paid City bankers and traders engaging in extremely risky, opaque and complex transactions. We attributed the entire measurable loss to the UK’s economy and public finances to an elite few thousand very highly paid financiers – those earning over £1 million in bonuses. The model balances this value destroyed with the value created during a 20-year indicative career in terms of these financiers’ contribution to UK economic activity, taxes paid, and jobs supported."
So if you believe that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, the Bank of England, the European Commission and the Financial Services Authority are totally blameless and bear no responsibility for the recession then you might continue reading the report.
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