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April 24, 2017

Macron’s victory proves bankers are back

By Alec Marsh

With Emmanuel Macron leading Marine Le Pen into the final round of the French elections, it seems the world has at last forgiven bankers, writes Alec Marsh

It’s been a long time coming, but victory for Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential election appears to confirm once and for that all that the banker, a figure of public revulsion since the eruption of the financial catastrophe of 2007, has at long last been rehabilitated. Yes, folks, bankers have been forgiven.

That the so-called political outsider Macron, a former investment banker with Rothschild, could secure 23.8 per cent of the vote to top the poll in the first round of the French presidential elections at the weekend, tells you that bankers are no longer the villains of the piece. Indeed, Macron wasn’t just any banker, he was a good banker – so good that he earned millions in his short, four year banking career, as well as a nickname: the ‘Mozart of finance’, according to the FT.

That he could drive the former frontrunner, the populist right-winger Marine Le Pen who decried him as the ‘candidate of finance’, into second on 21.5 per cent, and that neither of the main parties that have ruled France for the last 50 years made it through either, is telling. Not only does it show you that bankers are back, but it also points to who the new villains are in the eyes of the people – the politicians.

That Donald Trump made hay out of the anti-banker prejudices lingering from the financial crisis in his jibes at Wall Street in his election last year, cannot be denied. But his subsequent decision to fill his cabinet with former Goldman Sachs employees – most notably his Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin – confirms that in the US, too, the banker is being rehabilitated.

On this side of the pond, we also have a banker in Number 10 for the first time in decades (and potentially ever) in the shape of Philip May, the prime minister’s husband, who is a banker by occupation, of course. Not that anyone cares, which is just the point.

So could it be true, could the world have reached and passed the high water mark of banker contempt? Can we call ‘peak’ bankophobia? Let’s hope so. With Brexit coming, with a beleaguered European economy, with the challenges of global warming, of population rises and ageing, the world needs bankers and their clever financial solutions like never before.

Alec Marsh is editor of Spear’s

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