Monday, 18 April 2011

Will Hutton gets to the heart of the banking matter [again]!

It was our generation's opportunity. Maybe substantive reform was always an unrealistic dream. But a £1.3 trillion bank bailout, a financial disaster that has lost Britain 20% of its GDP and threatens years of subdued growth should surely have triggered anger and some real change. But after the publication of Sir John Vickers's Independent Commission on Banking interim report, the chance is receding before our eyes.
The City has become rather like the trade unions in the 1960s and 1970s – an over-mighty interest group enjoying privileged access to the inner councils of the state which passionately believes in the legitimacy of its cause. Unions then thought they should make the law to suit themselves. So do banks today. After all, the City is a huge national asset which other countries would love to have. There are no trade-offs or costs attached to this supremacy, in the City's view. It is, says the City, an unalloyed benefit and as little as possible must be done to disturb it. A vast lobbying exercise has pressed these points home publicly and privately. It has largely triumphed....

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