Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Brown demand rate cuts

It seems that Mr. Brown is a little disappointed in HSBC. The bank won't pass on the recent interest rate cuts to its borrowers.

The Abbey is also in the doghouse. It is about to increase all tracker rates by 0.5 per cent tomorrow. Furthermore, it will not offer tracker deals to anyone without at least a 25 per cent deposit.

A Downing street spokesperson said "The Prime Minister is very clear — we are taking the action we are taking in order to see that more mortgage holders and small businesses do feel the benefit of that action. When official rates are cut consumers would expect to see the benefits of that."

Of course, the banks are absolutely right to resist this crude political pressure. Banks should set whatever interest rate they like. Of course, their rates should be sufficiently prudent to avoid future losses, which could result in a bank failure and a taxpayer bailout. This latter question, which is essentially a risk management issue, should be a matter for the regulator and is of no direct concern to Downing street.

However, it is a sign of the times. Due to years of poor risk management, the banks have unwittingly walked into a New Labour trap. The worst sort of interventionist tendencies are now coming out. Brown needs growth, and since the government now effectively owns the banking system, he thinks he can demand rate cuts, regardless of the commercial interests.

Browns frantic demands for mortgage rate cuts also illustrates another unanticipated development in the crisis. The Bank of England have lost control of monetary policy. The MPC may cut its official rate, but banks are unwilling to follow.


Nick von Mises said...

"unanticipated development in the crisis"

Maybe to the clowns in government but it was all pretty obvious to many here. Christ, even Keynes knew enough to talk about a liquidity trap.

What interests me is whether Brown is dumb enough / evil enough to believe what he says or if it's just political theatre to look like he's doing something while he knows full well that the banks won't and shouldn't lend.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Right, let's try rearranging the following words to desribe this phenomenon:

String. Pushing. Piece of. A.

Alice Cook said...


I don't think we are in a liquidity trap, where firms are unwilling to invest despite the availability of loanable funds.

This is a banking crisis where a) huge amounts of high powered money is being created, b) confidence in banks is being eroded, c) the monetary transmission mechanism has broken down and d) banks are reluctant to lend.


Anonymous said...

I believe that neither HSBC nor Abbey have taken a capital injection. Are you talking about the Special Liquidity facility at the Bank of England or lowered interest rates?

Also i believe HSBC has show relatively minimal losses.

Markbaldy said...

Brown is a baffoon - simple as that.
The man has NO respect for "Britain's hard working families" and has no idea of "how to steer the UK through these uncharted waters"... he just got us into this mess.
By lowering interest rates, I am sure that inflation will actually rise because the pound will continue to drop and imports (ie most of what we buy !!!) will be
more expensive.
Brown is really trying to stoke up the housing bubble again to make people feel wealthy and start spending money they haven't got...he will fail this time.Trouble is he will leave a legacy of debt which will take decades to pay off... like I said BAFFOON !!!

Nick von Mises said...


Well there's our disagreement. I believe sentiment has turned and now it doesn't matter how much banks want to lend (I don't think they want to, mind), borrowers simply won't borrow. There are no rising asset classes for speculators to chase. There is rampant overcapacity in the main industrial and retail sectors so no companies will borrow to expand. And consumers are going to repay debt, not take on more.

Brown, clown that he is, cannot force the money out.

BTW, I love the "unchartered waters" type hoocoodanodeit claims. We've been here many times before and the future is pretty clear, confused only slightly by how badly governments want to make it worse.

John Pickworth said...

HSBC deserves more credit than this. They were perhaps the first major bank to be directly affected by the sub-prime business - due in fairness to their poor investments in the US market. However they've been quick (from my layman's perspective) to deal with the problem and to do so without recourse to Brown's Shilling.

I hope the HSBC continues to conduct its business as it sees fit and ignores the hand-wringing from the utterly miserable politicians (Brown, Darling and Cable). At least we'll have one non-taxpayer supported 'safe haven' left in this country.

Note: I do not work nor represent the HSBC. However my overdraft is invested with them.

Rick said...

I remember going to house parties when I was 17. The next morning there was always one kid who thought that by putting the music back on and shoving a drink under the noses of hungover partygoers the fun may begin again. He would then shout at everyone for not wanting to carry on the previous night's excesses and for being boring.

Adam Smith said...

Prepare for the New World Economic Order

Interest Rates [Credit] are the Cause and Consequence of the Explosion of Income/Wealth Disparities and, Hence, of the Inherent Instability of this Economy:

The Ominous Keynes' Liquidity Trap.
The Origin of Economic Chaos.

Everyone Need an Economy, Don't They?

There Is One Solution That Works:

A Credit Free, Free Market Economy:

The New World Economic Order.

The Only Goal of 1776 - Annuit Cœptis is to Implement It.

They Can Transfer Their Assets & Forget Their Liabilities.

Anyone Can Join But Still Needs to Ask for It.


The Purpose Is to Provide Both a New Deal and a New Game.

It is NOT to Fix This Economy Which is Already Beyond Repair.

The Intention Is to Create a New Economy
With the Assets of the Old One Without its Liabilities.

Why Not Insure Against the Worst Case Scenario?