Saturday, December 27, 2008

Church and Bank

There is a wacky situation unfolding in Germany this weekend. According to the FT, on Christmas Eve German Protestant Bishop Wolfgang Huber called out Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann in a newspaper interview.

"Speaking to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, Bishop Huber argued that bankers had a duty to look beyond the short term and to ensure stability: “Never again should a Deutsche Bank chief executive set a profit goal of 25 per cent.” Such goals drove up profit expectations to unsustainable levels and amounted to “a form of idolatry”, he said. “In the current circumstances, money has become a god.”"

FT's take seems to be that this is a populist tangent to the idea that the financial crisis was caused by excessive greed and leverage at U.S. financial institutions. That may be true but these big financials are all truly global.

The whole thing is crazy. Who wou;d question the idea of a bank having a profitability goal? Even in Europe? That a religious leader took it upon himself to wave the flag makes it even stranger.

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