Politicians all over Europe are once again turning their attention to the menacing world of high-end financial investment – and they don’t like what they are seeing one bit.
Franz Muentefering, the German vice-chancellor, last week repeated his notorious comparison between hedge fund investors and "locusts". Across the border in France, Nicholas Sarkozy launched another attack on hedge funds, urging a new European tax on "speculative" money flows. Add to that the growing chorus of critics within national parliaments, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that hedge funds and other active investors are facing a head-on assault.
Few people feel much much sympathy for the managers of hedge funds and private equity groups. They are spectacularly well-rewarded for their labours, and – compared to politicians or managers of listed companies – they face little public scrutiny or the risk of humiliation in the mass media.