I think not.
Earlier in the week, I posted about bankers doing a runner from US Treasury bills. As the week goes on, everything seems to be more and more about banks – past mistakes, current truculence and future plans. But then, it’s all been about banks really for at least twenty years. (In case you hadn’t spotted it, this is where it all went wrong – but not for them: bank error is never in your favour).
George Osborne is going to tell his Mansion House audience this evening that investment banks will never again be assessed for street repairs: he wants the retail arms to be ‘ringfenced’. I know you may find this far-fetched, but I’m told by a reliable witness that he has no idea how to do that. Neither do I, and even if I did – it won’t work, because bankers will find a way round it. Just like Murdoch has with the news/entertainment Newscorp split scam. Bankers will always find a way round regulation.
Northern Rock, it seems, is to be privatised. Well it’s not, actually: the greedy folks will get to invest in the safe bit where all the savings of innocent customers are. We the taxpayers will still get to keep the bad bits where all the isotopic loans lurk, humming away nicely in the dark. Further down the road, somebody will buy Northern Rock, the shareholders will all Pass Go, and we will watch as our bit goes from costing £90 billion to rather a lot more.
Europe’s central bankers, meanwhile, are terrified by Merkel’s €20bn Get out of Jail Free card for Greece. They’re terrified because Greece is going to default anyway – the equivalent for them of landing on Mayfair with two hotels. I’m terrified because I’ve no idea how this is going to work when Ireland, Portugal and Spain need the same thing. Two credit managers I spoke to late yesterday simply sighed a lot. They’ve known for months this was going to happen.