A writer at The Economist notes that hatred of bankers is one of the world’s oldest and most dangerous prejudices:
Civilisations that have eased the ban on moneylending have grown rich. Those that have retained it have stagnated. Northern Italy boomed in the 15th century when the Medicis and other banking families found ways to bend the rules. Economic leadership passed to Protestant Europe when Luther and Calvin made moneylending acceptable. As Europe pulled ahead, the usury-banning Islamic world remained mired in poverty.
In medieval Europe Jews were persecuted not only because they were not Christians but also because killing them was a quick way to expunge debts. Karl Marx, who came from a Jewish family, regarded Jews as the embodiments of capitalism who could only be rescued from their ancestral curse through revolution. The forgers of the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” wanted people to believe that Jewish financiers were engaged in a fiendish global conspiracy. Louis McFadden, the chairman of the United States House Committee on Banking and Currency in the 1930s, claimed that “the Gentiles have the slips of paper while the Jews have the lawful money.” The same canards have been used against Chinese minorities across Asia.
It can be reasonably argued that the financial industry in the US, and probably also in Europe, is too large as a % of the overall economy and also far too influential in political affairs–see my post about sticky governors. But the unthinking demonization of finance as an activity, and of people involved in that activity, is counterproductive, and, as the Economist author argues, dangerous.