On external deficits and funding

During the excitement of the post 2008 global financial crisis we became used to outbursts of public debate over debt at a national level. The press delighted in telling us that the Italian government would be borrowing just to pay interest if the rate reached 7%. And then we had the public airing of the Greek debt which has, temporarily, been resolved by issuing more. More recently has been public agonising over Chinese debt problems as commercial businesses fail with musings over the potential consequences for world order. More subtle has been the emergence in the UK of acknowledgement of the

Banks as utilities?

As we approach some form of bank separation, and the final building blocks of the G20 banking regulations come into play (BRRD for us EU members, and Basel 3), we see another effort to consider banking in the same light as utilities[1] Utilities are based on networks of pipes and wires and the plant necessary to push and pull some essential service through them.  As the UK is one of the few countries to trust our public utilities to commercial companies, we are near unique in having comparators to our commercial banks. The example I will use here are UK

Who needs the “too big” banks?

In the ACT’s response (June 2009) to the Turner Review on the Global Financial Crisis, we touched on the question of who needs the super-large banks. Perhaps it is large companies. But we had doubts. So, we consulted the ACT Policy and Technical Committee and others, including some members at some of the large companies which might be most affected by the availability or otherwise of the largest financial institutions as well as more widely.

Gloomy? Don’t trust consensus?

Less confidence about the UK economy and expectation of a UK pensions crisis were the almost unanimous view of the excellent ACT Annual Conference in Manchester.

John Humphrys, chaired a fascinating “Question Time” as the last conference session. A very well balanced panel (Paul Boyle, CEO of the Financial Reporting Council, Barbara Cassani, Executive Chairman of Jurys Inn, Trevor Williams, Chief Economist of Lloyds TSB, and Alastair Clark, former Executive Director and Advisor to the Governor, Bank of England).