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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Green or Greed Investment Bank?

I wonder whose problem(s) would be solved by the public sector 'green investment bank' being touted by both the Tories and Labour. 

I mean, do you believe the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association is a staunch advocate of completely open and transparent financial markets? Or do you think it could be helpful to have a captive investor on which to off-load one's less than spectacular speculative green investments as a last resort?

Perhaps more importantly, would the creation of a public sector green investment bank allow or encourage individuals to buy-in to alternative energy projects, financing them in the process?

The current "problems" in the financial services markets - excessive fees and bonuses, lack of transparency, poorly understood products, the credit and pension crises - are the result of the sort of institutional tinkering epitomised by the proposed 'green investment bank'. We funnel investment opportunities and funding into a zone in which relatively few firms are permitted to operate. The results are increasingly complex products, less transparency, increasingly concentrated risk and less competition.

This situation won't change until the clear objective of the regulatory regime becomes the delivery of simple, low cost financial products that are accessible to us all. Rather than vainly trying to educate an aging population to become more and more financially literate, we need to vastly simplify the process for the average individual to invest/save in a fully diversified way.

Surely the successful investment firms of the future will be the ones who race each other to demystify and simplify the funding/investment experience, rather than those who enter into cosy, self-serving institutional arrangements like this one.
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