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Saturday, April 19, 2008

The "White" Knight

At last the Bank of England, much like a white knight, is riding to rescue of the poor beleaguered banks.

Next week a "rescue" package will be announced whereby the Bank of England will offer around £50BN of gilts in exchange for secured assets from the banks.

This, in theory, is meant to ease the liquidity crisis and dig the banks out of the hole that they made for themselves.

As ever, when dealing with this government, there are a few catches. Not least is that fact that £50BN may well be not enough.

The other issues is that the gilts will have a life of just less than one year. The sneaky trick here is that by shying just short of one year, the gilts will not appear on the books of the government as debt. The banks wanted a 3-5 year package.

Should the Bank of England have done this?

Undoubtedly, yes!

Is this enough?

Unlikely, time will tell.

Whilst this may provide some short term relief for the banks, the final solution probably requires more to be done by the Bank of England, the government and the banks themselves.

Once the liquidity crisis is resolved the banks should be very aware that they will pay a heavy price for their greed and stupidity. The regulatory environment will move very aggressively against them, so as to stop something like this happening again.

The banks will well deserve whatever is going to be thrown at them.

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