Thursday, 2 July 2009

Some belated honesty

Here is what Andy Haldane, the Bank of England's executive director for financial stability, described the activities of the banking sector over the last 20 years.

"Banking became the goose laying the golden eggs. There is no period in recent UK financial history which bears comparison. Banks appeared to have discovered a money machine, albeit one whose workings were sometimes impossible to understand.

One of the South Sea stocks was memorably 'a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is'. Banking became the 21st-century equivalent."

The honesty and candour is welcome. However, it does beg the question what was Andy and the Bank of England doing when the banking system was running amok. For at least 8 of those 20 years, the Bank of England was responsible for supervision.

However, the past is now locked away. The clock can not be turned back. What about the future? Well, the government wants a banks to resume lending. Isn't this how banks became the 21st century equivalent of the south sea bubble?


Mark Wadsworth said...

Even without understanding the finer details, there weren't any Golden Eggs.

All that tax they were paying* was merely a function of all the extra interest that UK households were paying on all that extra debt taken out to finance ridiculously over-priced housing.

* It wasn't that much actually, sure it was a quarter of corporation tax receipts, but absolutely no VAT at all.

AntiCitizenOne said...

> Banks appeared to have discovered a money machine

It was called Basel2.

Anonymous said...

They didn't discover Basel 2, they pressed and campaigned for it.

Mick said...

what a good quote - reminds me of "extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds".

It's a great read. Anyone who hasn't read it should do.