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Financial Quotes

Banking Quotes

  • "In Britain, we need to come up with a new word for this type of dysfunctional capitalism—where banks neither lend nor pay their way in taxes, yet retain a stranglehold on policy-making. We could try bankocracy: ruled by the banks, for the banks."
    Aditya Chakrabortty, British economics journalist
    Source: Guardian (London) (December 12, 2011)
  • "We were at the stage where in a very short period of time, one of the world’s biggest banks would have to shut the door and switch off the electricity."
    Alistair Darling (1953–), British politician
    On the near-collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland in October 2008
    Source: Interview, Independent (London) (March 18, 2011)
  • "In a Bloomberg poll, 88% of respondents said that Wall Street bonuses should either be banned outright or taxed at 50%. Just 7% said they should remain an incentive. To put that 7% figure in perspective, 6% of Americans believe the moon landings were a hoax; 7% believe Elvis lives; 24% believe that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim; 41% believe in ESP; and 48% believe in creationism. Americans will believe anything, it seems—except the idea that incentivizing bankers at systemically important institutions to take big risks makes any sense at all."
    Felix Salmon, US financial journalist
    Source: “Wall Street Bonus Datapoint of the Day,” Reuters blog (December 13, 2010)
  • "People want to say: look at those profligate governments, spending all that money. We’ve got to restore fiscal sanity. But it wasn’t fiscal insanity that got us here. It was private-sector leverage and the insanity of banking that brought us to this point. So the bankers put it on the state, and the state turned around it put it on the taxpayer. It’s the biggest bait-and-switch in human history."
    Mark Blyth, US political economist
    Source: Interview on Radio Open Source blog (December 1, 2010)
  • "Of all the many ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today. Change is, I believe, inevitable. The question is only whether we can think our way through to a better outcome before the next generation is damaged by a future and bigger crisis."
    Mervyn King (1948–), British governor of the Bank of England
    Source: Speech, New York (October 25, 2010)
  • "No one ever felt sorry for a banker."
    Dominic Lawson (1956–), British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (August 3, 2010)
  • "There are remuneration packages that will no longer be tolerated because they bear no relation to merit. That those who create jobs and wealth may earn a lot of money is not shocking. But that those who contribute to destroying jobs and wealth also earn a lot of money is morally indefensible."
    Nicolas Sarkozy (1955–), French president
    On bonuses paid to bankers
    Source: Address to the World Economic Forum (January 27, 2010)
  • "It has been a masterful fight-back by the big banks. We the paying public can’t do anything much except admit defeat and settle back for the next set of bills. In the meantime, perhaps, we should try and think of a name for the new economic system, which certainly isn’t capitalism … The most accurate term would probably be “bankocracy.”"
    John Lanchester (1962–), British journalist and novelist
    Source: London Review of Books (November 5, 2009)
  • "Think of the indispensable contribution bankers will make to Britain’s recovery, on one condition: that they are allowed to become indecently rich. It is a small price to pay."
    Bruce Anderson, British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (October 26, 2009)
  • "Politicians and policymakers became victims of a sort of Stockholm syndrome. Having been taken hostage by the bankers, they began to identify with their interests."
    Ruth Sunderland, British financial journalist
    On the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008–09.
    Source: Observer (London) (October 4, 2009)
  • "Never in the field of financial endeavour has so much money been owed by so few to so many."
    Mervyn King (1948–), British governor of the Bank of England
    Referring to the British government’s bank bail-out in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008–09.
    Source: Speech to Edinburgh business leaders (October 2009)
  • "It would be like Rome selling the Vatican to the Japanese to make it a hotel, and hiring the Pope as a bellboy."
    Craig Warner (1964–), British screenwriter
    On the prospect of the US government allowing Lehman Brothers investment bank to collapse.
    Source: The Last Days of Lehman Brothers, BBC TV (September 9, 2009)
  • "If you talk to 100 people, 102 will tell you they hate bankers."
    Craig Warner (1964–), British screenwriter
    Source: The Last Days of Lehman Brothers, BBC TV (September 9, 2009)
  • "No bank should be allowed to become so big that it can blackmail governments."
    Angela Merkel (1954–), German chancellor
    Source: Quoted in the Financial Times (London) (August 31, 2009)
  • "Bonuses are back—and we're worth it."
    Comment by an anonymous banker.
    Source: Quoted in Grazia (London) (August 2009)
  • "They took bonuses for going bust, bonuses for getting bailed out, and bonuses for getting out of bed. They can do what they want because the government agrees that they are too big to fail. They are beyond the laws of God, man and gravity."
    Simon Carr, British journalist
    On bankers
    Source: Independent (London) (July 9, 2009)
  • "The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."
    Matt Taibbi (1970–), US journalist
    On Goldman Sachs.
    Source: Rolling Stone (New York) (July 2009)
  • "The Bank finds itself in a position rather like that of a church whose congregation attends weddings and burials but ignores the sermons in between. Warnings are unlikely to be effective when people are being asked to change behaviour which seems to them highly profitable."
    Mervyn King (1948–), British governor of the Bank of England
    On the Bank of England's lack of regulatory powers.
    Source: Speech, Mansion House, City of London (June 17, 2009)
  • "Sir Fred has become the epitome of the bankers who collectively occupy a place in public opinion significantly lower than cannibalistic paedophile global-warming deniers."
    Boris Johnson (1964–), British mayor of London
    On Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of RBS.
    Source: Daily Telegraph (London) (March 3, 2009)
  • "The problem with the bank managers was not that they were malevolent but that they were mediocre."
    Christopher Caldwell (1962–), US journalist
    On the banking crisis of 2008.
    Source: Financial Times (London) (February 13, 2009)
  • "This is like people who hold up banks getting paid to stop holding up banks. It isn’t good policy."
    Peter Morici, US economist
    On the large “retention awards” given to executives of failed financial services companies.
    Source: Quoted in the Huffington Post blog (February 11, 2009)
  • "Please do not call it a bonus. It is not a bonus. It is an award."
    James P. Gorman (1960?–), US CEO of Morgan Stanley
    Instructing colleagues on how to discuss their “retention awards,” given after the company was bailed out with $60 million of public money.
    Source: Quoted in the Huffington Post blog (February 11, 2009)
  • "You can blame it on me and close the book, but it doesn't come close to explaining what happened."
    Sir Fred Goodwin (1958–), British former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland
    On the failure of RBS.
    Source: Speaking before the Treasury Select Committee (February 10, 2009)
  • "You have to eventually nationalize US banks, you have to take the problem by the horns. In my view actually most of the US banking system is insolvent."
    Nouriel Roubini (1959–), US financial analyst
    Source: Interview on Bloomberg TV (January 29, 2009)
  • "Socialism for rich bankers and capitalism for everyone else."
    Robert Reich (1946–), US economist and politician
    On the Paulson bank bail-out scheme.
    Source: Quoted in the Guardian (London) (January 21, 2009)
  • "If I were a banker with RBS or Barclays or Lloyds, I would do exactly what they have done. Having made rotten business decisions in the past and now been offered limitless riches to cover them, I would take the money and say thank you."
    Sir Simon Jenkins (1943–), British journalist
    On the British government’s attempts to influence the lending policy of the major banks in the wake of the credit crunch.
    Source: Guardian (London) (January 21, 2009)
  • "His obsession with bankers has become that of an infatuated teenager. He loves them and loathes them. They taunt and tease him, and he pouts and begs and cries and loses his temper. His body craves them, but each day finds him furiously beating their chests with his fists. They have their way with him and walk away."
    Sir Simon Jenkins (1943–), British journalist
    On Gordon Brown’s attempts to influence the lending policy of the major banks in the wake of the credit crunch.
    Source: Guardian (London) (January 21, 2009)
  • "All banks are insolvent all of the time. Their liabilities exceed their assets … If all banks are trading insolvently then the world economy is based on a hallucination, a mass deception, a general agreement to ignore reality."
    Simon Carr, British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (January 12, 2009)
  • "Bankers were scapegoats for the whole Reagan–Thatcher era, which exalted finance and humbled industry, and which had allowed the fruits of progress to accrue disproportionately to the rich and super-rich."
    Robert Skidelsky (1939–), British historian
    Source: Keynes—The Return of the Master (2009)
  • "If you were alive, they would give you a loan. Actually, I think if you were dead, they would still give you a loan."
    Steven M. Knoebel, US cofounder of a real-estate appraisal company
    Source: On lax lending at the Washington Mutual Bank, which went into receivership in September 2008 (December 29, 2008)
  • "They took 50 sheriffs off the beat at a time when lending was becoming the Wild West."
    Roy Cooper (1957–), US attorney general of North Carolina
    On the decision to block state governments from using consumer protection laws to control predatory subprime lending.
    Source: Quoted in the New York Times (December 20, 2008)
  • "A bank is a bank and if the security of its depositors is not its main concern, it should be required to adopt another name. Members of the public are entitled to take this for granted."
    Ronald Grierson, British banker
    Source: Letter, Financial Times (London) (December 5, 2008)
  • "This is not nationalization."
    Geir Haarde (1951–), Icelandic former prime minister
    On nationalizing the country's leading banks.
    Source: Quoted in the London Review of Books (November 20, 2008)
  • "Less of a negotiation, more of a drive-by shooting."
    Sir Fred Goodwin (1958–), British former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland
    On the UK government's forced recapitalization of the banking system.
    Source: Quoted in the Evening Standard (London) (October 15, 2008)
  • "Not since the First World War has our banking system been so close to collapse. The past few weeks have been somewhat too exciting … So let me extend an invitation to the banking industry to join me in promoting the idea that a little more boredom would be no bad thing. The long march to boredom and stability starts tonight."
    Mervyn King (1948–), British governor of the Bank of England
    Source: Speech (October 2008)
  • "You can't overestimate what happens when you encourage regulators to believe that the goal of regulation is not to regulate."
    Joseph Stiglitz (1943–), US economist
    Source: Quoted in the International Herald Tribune (Paris) (September 20, 2008)
  • "Then they should all be sent down the job centre. At first they’ll complain, “There’s nothing for me in there. I trained for two whole hours to get my qualifications as a parasite and there’s no parasite jobs going at the moment anywhere.”"
    Mark Steel (1960–), British comedian and author
    On bankers losing their jobs in the 2008 financial crisis.
    Source: Independent (London) (September 17, 2008)
  • "We're not just going to see mid-sized banks go under in the next few months, we're going to see a whopper."
    Kenneth Rogoff (1953–), US economist
    Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy two weeks later.
    Source: Remark (August 2008)
  • "It's a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation."
    Henry Paulson (1946–), US banker, former Treasury Secretary, former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs
    On the failure of the Indymac bank.
    Source: CBS News broadcast (July 20, 2008)
  • "We are used to a less dynamic environment than we have seen in the past few months and days."
    Rod Kent (1947?–), British former chairman of Bradford & Bingley Building Society
    Explaining Bradford & Bingley's financial troubles. The bank was rescued by the UK government in September.
    Source: Quoted in the Independent (London) (June 3, 2008)
  • "If banks feel they must keep on dancing while the music is playing and that at the end of the party the central bank will make sure everyone gets home safely, then over time, the parties will become wilder and wilder. When the party ends, some innocent bystanders may lose their homes altogether."
    Mervyn King (1948–), British governor of the Bank of England
    Source: Speech to the British Bankers' Association (June 2008)
  • "I have great, great confidence in our capital markets and in our financial institutions. Our financial institutions, banks and investment banks, are strong. Our capital markets are resilient. They're efficient. They're flexible."
    Henry Paulson (1946–), US banker, former Treasury Secretary, former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs
    Source: Remark (March 16, 2008)
  • "We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment."
    Christopher Cox (1952–), US former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
    Source: On the big investment banks (March 11, 2008)
  • "I expect there will be some failures … I don't anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system."
    Ben Bernanke (1953–), US economist and chairman of the US Federal Reserve
    Source: Testifying to the Senate Banking Committee (February 28, 2008)
  • "Financial institutions have been merging into a smaller number of very large banks. Almost all banks are interrelated. So the financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks—when one fails, they all fall … We have moved from a diversified ecology of small banks, with varied lending policies, to a more homogeneous framework of firms that all resemble one another. True, we now have fewer failures, but when they occur … I shiver at the thought."
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb (1960–), Lebanese-born US academic and writer, former derivatives trader
    Source: The Black Swan (2006)
  • "When I was young, people called me a gambler. As the scale of my operations increased I became known as a speculator. Now I am called a banker. But I have been doing the same thing all the time."
    Sir Ernest Cassel (18521921), British private banker to King Edward VII
    Source: Quoted in Fat Cats: The Strange Cult of the CEO (Gideon Haigh, 2005)
  • "I'm very happy to support it. And I keep my fingers crossed for the future."
    Roel C. Campos (1949–), US member of the Securities and Exchange Commission
    On the Commission's decision to exempt the big investment banks from capital requirements rules.
    Source: Meeting of the Securities and Exchange Commission (April 28, 2004)
  • "It's one of life's ironies that the more you can prove that you don't need a loan, the better your chances usually are of getting one. This is especially true for start-up businesses."
    Lillian Vernon (1927–), German-born US entrepreneur and founder of Lillian Vernon Corporation
    Source: Speech. “The Entrepreneur and the Professional Manager: Getting the Best of Both Worlds” (1998)
  • "I hesitate to deposit money in a bank. I am afraid I shall never dare to take it out again. When you go to confession and entrust your sins to the safe-keeping of the priest, do you ever come back for them?"
    Jean Baudrillard (19292007), French philosopher
    Source: America (1989)
  • "It is no accident that banks resemble temples, preferably Greek, and that the supplicants who come to perform the rites of deposit and withdrawal instinctively lower their voices into the registers of awe. Even the most junior tellers acquire within weeks of their employment the officiousness of hierophants tending an eternal flame."
    Lewis H. Lapham (1935–), US writer and editor
    Source: Money and Class in America (1988)
  • "You know what the difference is between a dead skunk and a dead banker on the road? There's skid marks by the skunk."
    Source: Quoted in Final Harvest: An American Tragedy (Andrew H. Malcolm, 1986)
  • "Except for the con men borrowing money they shouldn't get and the widows who have to visit with the handsome young men in the trust department, no sane person ever enjoyed visiting a bank."
    Martin Mayer (1928–), US author and journalist
    Source: The Money Bazaars (1984)
  • "I doubt if there is any occupation which is more consistently and unfairly demeaned, degraded, denounced, and deplored than banking."
    William Proxmire (19152005), US politician
    Source: Quoted in Fortune (October 31, 1983)
  • "It has been the bankers' destiny … to find themselves on the dangerous edge of the world, pointing up the contradictions and cross-purposes. They are not often loved for it."
    Anthony Sampson (19262004), British author and journalist
    Source: The Moneylenders: Bankers in a Dangerous World (1981), ch. 22
  • "Our banking system grew by accident; and whenever something happens by accident, it becomes a religion."
    Walter Wriston (19192005), US banker
    Source: BusinessWeek (January 20, 1975)
  • "The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled."
    J. K. Galbraith (19082006), US economist and diplomat
    Source: Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went (1975)
  • "A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it."
    Bob Hope (19032003), US comedian and motion picture actor
    Source: Quoted in “The Tyranny of Forms,” Life in the Crystal Palace (Alan Harrington, 1959)
  • "What is robbing a bank compared with founding a bank?"
    Bertolt Brecht (18981956), German playwright and poet
    Source: The Threepenny Opera (1928)
  • "Bankers regard research as most dangerous and a thing that makes banking hazardous due to the rapid changes it brings about in industry."
    Charles Franklin Kettering (18761958), US businessman and engineer
    Source: Address (1927)
  • "The business of banking ought to be simple. If it is hard it is wrong. The only securities which a banker, using money that he may be asked at short notice to repay, ought to touch, are those which are easily saleable and easily intelligible."
    Walter Bagehot (18261877), British economist and journalist
    Source: Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (1873)
  • "Adventure is the life of commerce but caution, I had almost said timidity, is the life of banking."
    Walter Bagehot (18261877), British economist and journalist
    Source: Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (1873)

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