French bankers in London bemoan the coming of, 'les socialistes'

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French bankers in London bemoan the coming of, 'les socialistes'

If bankers of any nationality in London should feel at home with a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, it's surely the French who throng South Kensington. Nominally socialist governments have, after all, governed France for half of the past 38 years and the British Labour Party's plans should at least have a whiff of familiarity. 

This may be so - but many French bankers, who came to London precisely to escape socialism and Francois Hollande's 75% 'supertax' on incomes above €1m, are contemptuous of the familiar rhetoric. Nor are they pleased with last week's announcement that the Labour party would like to end "offensive" bonuses in banking. 

"This idea of preventing bonuses comes straight from the line of the incompetence, even stupidity of pure socialism," says one expat French trader in the City. "The objective is always the same - attack finance in the hope of scraping together a few votes." 

If bonuses are banned, the trader observes that banks will simply have to increase salaries and in doing so will both increase fixed costs and precipitate redundancies, and will disconnect performance from pay. He predicts this will make banks more political places to work: "Managers will take stupid decisions just to protect their fiefdoms and this will cause even more damager. Socialism is a poison."

Other French bankers in London - who may, admittedly, be self-selected capitalists - aren't too happy with the way British politics is going either. "People are going to go back [to France]," said one, observing that various of his compatriots have already been galvanised into leaving by the falling pound. "You'll end up preferring no deal," says another.

The comments by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell about the pay for Morgan Stanley's (U.S.-based) CEO being far higher than for British teachers, nurses and showorkers seem particularly riling for London's French.  "Those who are for the prohibition of bonuses don't know how long the CEO of Morgan Stanley works, or the value he adds," says another French banker in the City. "It's ridiculous..."  

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