Greed is good? Yes, I think so.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but are you saying that "RBS, Bear Stearns, JP Morgan, Barclays, HSBC, and the thousands of other companies" are shedding staff because they're making money?
Aside from that, yes - my position on "corporate ethics" is that there's no such thing. A company does not have a conscience. It simply has an overriding directive - make as much money as you can. You are not going to rise to the top in any company, except by finding ways of making more money.
It is the responsibility of democratic governments to make and enforce laws preventing companies from engaging in behaviour that is detrimental to the general public good.
If a company is doing something which increases its profits, but is not illegal (or can be argued about in court for long enough that the company profits despite losing the case), then it is doing exactly what its shareholders want. If you don't like it, then you should campaign for changes in the law.
Of course, companies that depend upon public confidence, trust or goodwill are vulnerable to losses (both reduced sales and reduced share price) if they get bad publicity, which is why they invest large amounts into public relations and marketing. This doesn't mean that they want to do whatever is in the public interest, only that they want to present themselves in this way.
The above philosophy isn't prevalent in all companies, but if you're thinking of investing, I think it's a better bet to invest in one where it is.
Thanks for all the socialist downvotes. I foresee The Register saying "Vote Labour" at the next election, in order to maximize its readership and, therefore, advertising revenue.
If we're talking social responsibilty, I'd like to see some of these "OMG, Google, Microsoft and Apple are evilly hiring evil lawyers to find evil loopholes in the law" people to turn their attention to the activities of multinationals in the third world.
The law of business I propounded above applies in the third world as well as here, but with the added advantage to massive corporations that, with enough money, they can effectively rewrite the laws to suit themselves, making anything that they do legal.
Santa Claus is good. The Great Goblin is evil. Companies are either profitable or not.