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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Turner Gets Heavy

Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, last night at the Mansion House launched another attack on the banking industry.

Turner said that bankers faced a future stripped of profitable businesses:

"British citizens will be burdened for many years with either higher taxes or cuts in public services because of an economic crisis ... cooked up in trading rooms where many people earned annual bonuses equal to a lifetime's earnings of some of those suffering the consequences."

He added:

"Top management, in particular of banks involved both in complex trading and retail banking, needs ... to be willing to recognise that there are some profitable activities so unlikely to have a social benefit they should voluntarily walk away from them."

I would make a number of observations:

1 The higher taxes, needed to plug the fiscal black hole, are in part due to the fact that Brown failed to "put something away for a rainy day" during the "years of plenty". Instead he chose to "spend, spend, spend".

2 Where was the FSA during the period of "reckless" lending, when banks "cooked up" these failed schemes?

3 The financial catastrophe is in no small part down to the failure of regulation, emanating from the "bugger's muddle" of the tripartite regulatory system created by Brown.

4 Labour was happy to "schmooze" with the City during years of plenty, and had its fingers in the till earning billions in tax from the profits and pay of the banks/bankers.

5 The country did well out of the years of plenty, we are a far wealthier and more advanced nation than we were 30-40 years ago. This is a direct result of globalisation and freeing of currency flows. The current financial crisis has not set us back 30-40 years; ie we are still better off.

There will always be financial crises, each one different from the other. Turner and the G20 are unlikely to find a panacea that will prevent the next.

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