Bankers get their old confidence back
Phew, thank goodness for those budget deficits, eh. It means we weren’t the only ones to make a godawful mess of the economy. The politicians have also been screwing things up. It wasn’t all our fault after all.
That, at least, appears to be the message from the British Bankers’ Association’s annual shindig in the City of London today.
The emerging sovereign debt crisis has provided a wonderful opportunity for bankers to spread the blame a little for the world’s economic woes. They can’t be held responsible for that, all they did was pick up the fees for handling all the Government bond issues that have been required to make deficits possible.
Oh, and tipped the economy into the downturn that has turned Europe’s (and Britain’s) budget deficits from a problem into a crisis.
Yes, some of the old confidence is back. And some of the old arrogance as well. The crocodile tears are still flowing at the right points. But not as freely as they had been.
The HSBC chairman Stephen Green did go so far as to admit that “some banks behaved very badly” in the run up to the crisis (not his of course) but we’re pretty much done with contrition now. The mood is one of self justification.
And they may get away with it. The end of the worst phase of the crisis has led to progressively wider cracks opening in the international consensus immediately after it struck that something had to be done to ensure no repeat.
The banks have seen this and, while on the one hand they are calling for international agreement, on the other they are exploiting it.
So we’ve had warnings about the danger of going it alone, and criticism of Europe for imposing curbs on pay that are unlikely in the US and will be ignored in Asia.
Mr Green said he was worried and pointed to the City’s falling down the international competitiveness league table so that its now level with New York. (We all remember how it got to number one: light touch regulation that was an unmitigated disaster).
“There are real risks to london and the economy as a whole from the law of unintended consequences if those in control of policy don’t think very carefully,” said Mr Green.
Clear warning: squeeze us too hard and we’re off to Switzerland.Tagged in: bankers, deficits, regulation, the city
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