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Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Feast Of Anger And Blame

You have to wonder whether the UK's banking crisis will ever end. After months of wrangling, the regulators have finally decided which UK banks are still short of about £26bn in capital (for now). But yesterday's Parliamentary Banking Standards Commission report points to an endless list of more serious problems that won't be solved by simply leeching yet more billions out of the economy.

The members of the BSC must be highly commended for taking on the long overdue job of trying to bring Britain's banks to heel. Volume 2 of the epic report is an invaluable account of their painful journey, made poignant by the fact that, until quite recently, the members of the Commission actually believed in our rotten financial system. The scale of their disillusionment is almost beyond comprehension. What perhaps started as an investigation into fairly specific allegations of corporate malfeasance resulted in one proud British institution turning on another out of a sense of betrayal. 

So, apart from its entertaining descent into the gory details of British banking, the BSC report represents yet another hammer blow to our faith in society's institutions - this time delivered by one of the ringleaders, namely Parliament itself.

Yet the question remains as to just how far along the 'change curve' we have really travelled. Despite the BSC's list of recommendations, we seem to be merely inching our way through anger and blame, rather than understanding and accepting that the world has truly changed and we need to move on.

While the Commission has voiced great support for alternative finance models and eliminating perverse tax incentives, and the Treasury and FCA have made some proposals to improve the regulatory landscape, the rhetoric from the government continues to put banks at the heart of Britain's economic future, rather than a more open, diverse and innovative financial system.

How much more economic mayhem it will take for society to genuinely 'move on' is anyone's guess.


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