Sunday, 15 November 2009

Banks Sorted - Move Along, Nothing More To See

A simple podcast and bit of TV interviewing and finally Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have brought the banking crisis to its conclusion.

The final solution is the FSA will be given the authority to tear up bankers' contracts if they feel they are excessive or reward high risk activities. Makes you wonder why the FSA would do that after sitting by and watching the last crisis unfold last time and doing not a sausage about it - in fact, receiving bonuses themselves for their good work at the time. Indeed, to a person, the same staff exist at the FSA so we can expect this new, draconian behaviour to really work. Sure.

Along with a few gems on higher capital to be kept by banks, Gordon Brown confidently announced in his podcast that "We will ensure that the banking crisis we have experienced over the last two years should never again come at a cost to the taxpayer".

The finality was awesome - the banking crisis as we experienced it will never happen like that again but if it does we will never have to pay for it the way we did before. Of course, if you believe that then you will believe anything and vote for a landslide Labour win at the next election.

Much more to the point, long before we look at why Brown's comments are not true, we should be asking why did the last crisis cost so much. Brown tries to tell us that as recessions go we have not fared badly on unemployment and repossessions. I think sometimes he must be reading different reports than the rest of us as unemployment is now higher than at any point in the last 12 years and if you add those who have been on long term benefits for whatever reason, then Britain is at its worst in terms of Welfare strain for a long, long time. As for repossessions, when those who have opted for the deferred payment schemes and when the interest rates start to pick with those in negative equity, it is arguable that we have yet to see the full effects of the housing crash.

As before, Brown seems to think the financial situation in Britain is far better than it really is.

The stark facts are there to see. We have spent £1.4 trillion on saving the financial system and to this day we have no idea whether that is too little, too great or enough. The bankers remain unscathed by our generosity and the best we can do is to threaten their bonuses in the future while at right now headhunting, sign on fees and massive profiteering on written down debts are bolstering earnings greatly. Under our noses, the very machinations that brought about our ruin are going on and the best our ministers can do is to write a few rules that banks and their lawyers are adept are getting around.

The actions by Darling and Brown are superficial and treat only the symptoms of a flawed banking system that is working in exactly the same way as it did before. We have printed £200bn of new money and given it to the banks to shore up their finances and play the markets - none of it has got into the real economy whereas the exact same QE in the US was put into the asset backed securities markets and guess what? They emerged from recession and we didn't.

At every turn and juncture this Government has got the financial calls wrong. We have spent far too much money rescuing a system that did us no good to act the same way again. None of what these two goons have done or said will make an iota of difference and at every point they called the situation wrong and estimated its extent wrongly too. It has been a process of escalation all along of reacting to the crisis, trying numbers and then spending much more as the guesses made were never right. How much we could have avoided paying, we will never know.

If you believe this cod's wallop they have spouted this week, you may as well believe pigs can fly.

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