Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

Greed is Good?

David Cameron is a very wealthy man. He wants more and more wealth. One way for the former prime ministers to get rich, is to become a PR lobbyist for a large corporate entity. As a part-time lobbyist for Greensill Capital, Cameron thought he could use his influence on Government ministers to push the company's interests. Not so. The former prime minister is now facing questions over his failed attempt to secure money from the Treasury to Greensill, which employed him before it went bankrupt.

Who or what is Greensill? Financier Lex Greensill worked as an unpaid advisor to David Cameron when he was prime minister. His job was to advice and construct policies which would see businesses paid by their creditors more quickly. Mr Greensill's specialism was 'supply chain finance' - a service for businesses that needed immediate capital while their bills are waiting to be paid. At one point the company was valued at $7bn (£5bn), with a fleet of four luxury jets.

According to the BBC (31 March 2021), Mr Cameron told friends that he was set to earn as much as £60m from shareholdings in Greensill, where he had worked since 2018. Not bad for a humble part-time employee whose political career had imploded when he lost the Brexit referendum. Easy money?

Unfortunately it all went wrong. In a bleak financial market, one of Greensill's insurance companies, Tokio Marine, which was insuring $4.6 billion of its working capital, announced to Greensill that it was withdrawing cover that protected some of Greenhill's investors. Then Credit Suisse froze $10 billion in funds that were invested in Greensill's financial products (WALL STREET JOURNAL 22 March 2021). Greenhill could not secure loan protection for companies.

There was collateral damage. Liberty Steel, Britain's third-largest steel producer, employing 3,000 workers, was receiving financial support from Greensill. When Greensill Capital filed for insolvency protection on March 8, 2021, Liberty Steel lost its protective umbrella and now faces bankruptcy and unemployment for thousands of workers. And Mr Cameron will not get his easy money. No £60m. No more flying in private jets. It is back to the caravan in his Oxfordshire garden to contemplate on the vagaries of capitalism.

Cameron's Etonian friend, fellow Bullingdon Club bully and congenital liar (see Peter Orborne THE ASSAULT ON TRUTH, 2021) and now Prime Minister, Boris Johnson must have looked upon Cameron's potential bonanza of $60m with excitement. He was paid a mere chicken feed salary of £275,000 a year for articles in the DAILY TELEGRAPH, and now cannot live on a Prime Minister's salary of £158k plus free accommodation. Boris must have looked at what ex-Prime Ministers now earn. Look at Tony Blair from earning a PM's salary to a multi-millionaire (net worth $60 according to 'Celebrity Net Worth') who also holds an extensive property portfolio including houses at smart London addresses. The joy of capitalism?

In this vein, when Johnson met Tory Backbench MPs he claimed Britain's successful vaccine programme was "because of capitalism, because of greed" (PRIVATE EYE 15 April 2021). For Johnson "greed is good". And he is a very greedy man. He looks at effortless, easy money and wants a cut of the action.

Johnson was obviously referring to the film WALL STREET (1987) in which Hollywood's Gordon Gekko (portrayed by actor Michael Douglas) exclaimed "greed is good". Unfortunately for Johnson he did not realise that Gekko was based on the former Wall Street trader, Ivan Boesky. By 1986 Boesky had amassed a fortune of more than US$200 million by betting on corporate takeovers and the $136 million in proceeds from the sale of The Beverley Hills Hotel.

Boesky told business school students in the mid-1980s:

"Greed is all right...you can be greedy and still feel good about yourself".

Months later he was arrested for insider trading. Boesky went to jail, was fined a record $1000m and banned from the stock market for life.

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