Tag Archives: banking

Vince on Scottish independence: RBS would ‘inevitably’ move to London

It’s not often we hear from the Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable on constitutional matters. But today he appeared before Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to discuss the implications for business of Scottish independence, ahead of September’s referendum. Here’s what he said (via the BBC):

RBS would “inevitably” move its headquarters to London if Scotland votes for independence, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has claimed. Mr Cable told a committee of MPs that the bank would want to be based where it was “protected against the risk of collapse”. …

William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, asked

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Opinion: Shocking complacency in UK banking reform

In British politics there is one area of policy where popular sentiment and dire need strongly coincide. Banking reform.

Opinion surveys seem to suggest that it is Chancellor Osborne’s ‘Achilles Heel’. Indeed, senior ‘expert’ LibDems have expressed concern over the last three years about the pace of reforms. Now Labour has jumped on the bandwagon, and may reap electoral benefits. YouGov polling of a few weeks ago found…

… 67% thought was ineffective. Only 18% were confident that changes to the banking sector over the last few years were enough to stop a repeat of the banking crash. The

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

Opinion: Why local banks need Lib Dems to act

It hardly seems worth Ed Miliband’s time to actually make the speech on economics today, because it has been previewed, leaked and debated – almost sentence by sentence – all week.

There was a debate about the middle classes on Tuesday.  Then there was the important commitment to competition in the banking sector, where he flagged the idea of a market cap, an important idea – but there are three practical problems with it.

First, there is a danger that it will lead to the big banks dumping poorer customers – though equally, there will be more banks available for them to …

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Opinion: This could be the historic moment the banks shift

Tuesday will see one of those moments which may prove a turning point in the development of an effective UK banking system.

That is the day that the banks will reveal the geographical spread of their lending, down to 9,000 different postcode levels.

It is the culmination of a major effort by Lib Dems in the House of Lords earlier in the last two years, with a great deal of help from elsewhere, to make sure that this happened.

It is also a creative moment of possibility – not to criticise the banks, because they need to be given the credit for this …

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Opinion: The Case for Community Banking

Lloyds Bank, Leighton Buzzard - Some rights reserved by dlanor smadaThere are signs that the banking crisis may be coming to an end. The old TSB has re-emerged, Lloyds may be returned wholly to the private sector. William & Glyn’s may also re-emerge with investment, from amongst others, the Church Commissioners for England.

So, if we ignore RBS, the banking sector looks like it can get back to solid day-to-day retail banking, can’t it? Well, not quite. Retail banking is now disappearing from our local communities with only local credit unions filling the gap.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

The Independent View: Will competition and choice open up the banking sector for the better?

Credits CardsIn light of the launch of this week’s Current Account Switching Scheme, the Liberal Democrat conference was well timed to ask at a fringe meeting: “Will competition and choice open up the banking sector?”

In short, the scheme guarantees that anyone who wishes to move their current bank account to another institution will be able to do so hassle-free in seven working days. No burden is placed on the customer and it is all underpinned by a seven-day guarantee. This is real progress from the previous 30-day process and importantly the lack of a guarantee that often saw customers doing the legwork themselves. I hope to see positive effects of the changes in the months to come.

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Opinion: Can the bank bailout boost credit unions?

LloydsTSB is now sufficiently strong that the current share price exceeds the price paid by the Government at the time of the bail-out. These shares can now be sold off and the money returned to the taxpayer. The sums are such that there is the potential to transform access to affordable credit for the most vulnerable in society – those hit hardest by the cost to the public of the original bail-out.

Poorer and vulnerable people have continued to suffer disproportionately ever since the bail-out, as incomes from low paid work or benefit payments lag behind inflation. They have faced a …

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The Independent View: How the Payments Council is delivering a payments system for all

Since the beginning of the financial crisis there has been real appetite for reform into how our financial sector works and how we want it to operate. The Liberal Democrats have played an important part in this, both from within Government as well as from the backbenches.

During its time in office, the Coalition has already introduced a Financial Services Act into law and is currently legislating for a Banking Reform Bill. In addition, there is also the ongoing Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which I appeared in front of in late January.

Not only is Danny Alexander ensuring the Party’s view …

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Cyprus bailout plan: good idea, badly implemented?

Cyprus’s parliament couldn’t have been much clearer in its rejection of the plan, negotiated between eurozone members, to bail out the country’s failing banks. As a result, Cyprus is now turning from Brussels to Moscow for a lifeboat, and it looks like a deal might be done. Russia is demonstrating once again that is never backward in coming forward to build (or buy) new strategic alliances.

Yet outside the markets pages of the Financial Times, the merits of the original plan seem to have been little-discussed, with the assumption being that the plan was a universally bad one. But actually the idea …

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Opinion: Government must act to stop Basel reforms

Lichtkunst "Brillant par Tradition" in BaselMost of my working day is spent scuttling between sombre conferences on Central Banking best practice and meeting city economists to get their instant reaction to economic developments.

So when an opportunity came recently to travel to Basel in Switzerland to cover the latest announcement from the committee which aims to create a new framework for banking regulation, I leapt at the chance. But my delight at getting a free

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

William Powell AM writes… Why we must protect rural banking

Almost every week brings news of the closure of bank branches in rural areas. As an Assembly Member in Wales representing a large rural region, I know at first hand the real effects of bank closures on local communities and businesses. Latest figures from the Campaign for Community Banking Services, published in September, show that in the last ten years just under 2,000 bank branches have closed. There are now 900 communities that have only one bank branch and 1,200 communities with no bank branch at all. The traditional ‘Big 4’ banks closed 178 branches in 2011. Estimates

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Opinion: Don’t complain – walk out!

The story of UK banks is the one that just keeps on giving.

While we may be shocked by the LIBOR scandal (even though – let’s face it – we don’t really understand whether we have lost out or benefitted by the bankers’ manipulations) and stand aghast at various episodes of mis-selling and worse, what really matters to you and me is the service provided, well, to you and me.

If I complain about a bank will anything actually happen? Is there actually anyone there to complain to? Or someone who actually gives a damn?

All of us grumble to each other but …

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Opinion: Britain has become a corporate state, not a free society

In the months after the financial crisis in 2008, I recall a conversation with an American friend of mine; we discussed the fallout and numerous rescue packages by countries. Financial media outlets, such as Bloomberg and CNBC, described the capital injections into financial institutions as a sign we are “all socialists now” – according to my American companion, this was far from the truth. In reality, Western economies have turned the page to fascism, not socialism.

When he mentioned this to me, I confess, it was rather amusing to listen to; very sceptical of such claims, until the request to research the facts myself led me to a worrying conclusion. The truth of matter is that we are not far off from what British fascists in the 1930s thought the financial sector should administrate to the rest of society.

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Opinion: Brussels vs. the banksters

European Parliament building European Parliament building

Almost no-one in the UK would these days dispute the fact that the country’s banking sector needs a serious overhaul to correct the runaway behaviour which helped nudge Britain (and others) into the financial crisis. The Liberal Democrats have rightly been most persistent in demanding reforms, in particular a break-up of retail and casino banking, as recommended by the independent Vickers Inquiry.

The latest scandal about fixing the benchmark Libor interest rate plumbs new depths – even by the standards of Britain’s banks. Here were …

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LibLink: Stephen Williams says MPs should move their money from big banks

In an article in The Spectator, Stephen Williams argues:

The Libor scandal has shown the UK’s banking sector in its worst light. The public has lost trust in the big banks and are concerned that their politicians are more interested in political point scoring than the urgent task of fixing our broken banking system.

That is why, last year, I joined the Move Your Money campaign, which urges the public to use their consumer power to change the behaviour of the big banks by moving their money, or at least some of it, to ethical, local or mutual financial institutions.

He has …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Opinion: Make the bankers pay

Back in May I posted on a distinctive message for the next election. This post looks at the defining global political issue since 2008: no, not the House of Lords; the financial sector.

Long before the LIBOR scandal, the financial industry dragged millions into poverty, awarding the perpetrators staggering salaries. But you already knew that. What we need is an intelligent, credible policy response. It is tempting to

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

PMQs: My honourable friend makes an important point

I think David Cameron broke his own record this week:

(To Nicolas Soames) My right honourable Friend makes an important point.

(To Julian Brazier) My honourable Friend makes two very important points.

(To Duncan Hames) My honourable Friend raises an important point.

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Lib Dems should back a judge-led inquiry into financial scandal

I get why the Tories are opposed to a judge-led inquiry into the scandalous rate-rigging practices employed by Barclays and other banks: their experiences of the Leveson Inquiry show how scandals, even ones that blend across the red/blue parties, have a habit of rebounding on the government of the day.

I get why Labour are in favour of a judge-led inquiry: so complicit were Labour (and Ed Balls in particular) in the catastrophic financial mess of the last few years, of which the banks are just one part, that they are desperate to appear transparent in the hope the inquiry will rebound on the government of the day.

But I don’t get why the Lib Dems are lining up with the Tories to oppose a judge-led inquiry.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 58 Comments

The banking system was rotten to the core – Clegg

The deputy prime minister is interviewed in tonight’s Evening Standard, where he speaks about, among other things, his attitude towards the British banking system. Here’s an excerpt:

“There is no doubt in my mind that what we saw, what peaked in 2008, was rotten to the core,” he says. “We cannot afford as a society, as a country, to have a banking system that is like a cuckoo in the nest, which pushes everything else out and which causes huge costs for millions of  British taxpayers.

“Yet again the lid has been lifted on a culture which appeared to be permissive of

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Barclays and the Bank of England: BAD rate-rigging and GOOD rate-rigging

The Barclays rate-rigging scandal has conflated a number of issues — Bob Diamond’s bonus, ‘casino’ banking, failed regulators — making it hard to get behind the media’s shouty headlines to understand the issues which should really concern us. Here’s my brief show-your-working attempt, starting with what Barclays.

What Barclays did right: ‘fess up

LIBOR (London Inter Bank Offered Rate) is the rate at which banks in London lend money to each other for the short-term. It’s used as a proxy measure of market confidence in individual banks, as well as a benchmark for setting mortgage interest rates.

Barclays has admitted filing misleading …

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++ Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond quits

Yesterday Nick Clegg called for more resignations at Barclays in the wake of the rate-rigging scandal. Well, he’s just got his wish in part fulfilled, with the news that chief executive Bob Diamond is falling on his sword (or was he pushed?). Here’s how the BBC reports it:

Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has resigned with immediate effect.

The move follows the resignation of chairman Marcus Agius and comes less than a week after the bank was fined a record amount for trying to manipulate inter-bank lending rates.

Mr Diamond said he was stepping down because the external pressure on Barclays

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Nick Robinson: Chancellor to announce banking inquiry this afternoon

From the BBC’s Nick Robinson:

The government is to set up a wider inquiry into banking to report by the end of the year.

It will not be a full Leveson-style public inquiry. However, it will be separate from, and much wider than, the inquiry already announced into the abuses of LIBOR – inter-bank lending rate – at Barclays and other banks.

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Nick Clegg wants to see more resignations at Barclays

The Press Association reports:

Nick Clegg has ramped up the pressure on Bob Diamond by indicating he believed the Barclays chief executive should follow the lead of the bank’s chairman, Marcus Agius.
The Deputy Prime Minister said he had “no problem with more inquires” into what went wrong with the industry after Labour called for a Leveson-style investigation.

Posted in News | 8 Comments

++ Barclays chairman set to resign

Breaking News from the BBC

Marcus Agius is to resign as the chairman of Barclays, the BBC has learned.

There will be an announcement on Monday morning, BBC business editor Robert Peston says.

It comes after Barclays was fined £290m ($450m) for attempting to manipulate the Libor inter-bank lending rate.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – Beware the risks and rewards of a banking union

Writing in the Financial Times this week, Nick Clegg warned:

In the debate on banking union we back greater co-operation on various aspects of an integrated financial system: common rules on the restructuring of failed banks, shared principles on how to protect depositors, high minimum standards for the capital EU banks should hold and a strong European Banking Authority.

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments

Cable: The City is a massive cesspit

The Independent reports:

The Government was under growing pressure last night to call a public inquiry into the behaviour of Britain’s bankers as the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, admitted the sector was a “massive cesspit” that needed cleaning up.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland writes a column for local newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here is this week’s edition.

Queen’s Speech

Last week, we saw the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen. Her Majesty set out the legislation planned for the second session of Parliament following the formation of the Coalition. The legislation outlined in the speech supports our efforts to reduce the deficit, rebalance the economy and put the country on the path to sustainable growth. It also sets out our commitment to provide families, businesses and communities across the country with the support they …

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LDVideo: Nick Clegg urges banks to lend to businesses

We covered earlier Nick Clegg’s reaction to today’s shock news that the UK is back in recession — here’s an excerpt from his speech today to the Institute of Directors where he urges the banks t play their part, and start lending to businesses:

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Opinion: bashing bankers the economically liberal way – risk and responsibility

Just before conference I caught some largely unreported news on a Private Member’s Bill, put to the Commons by Steve Baker MP, founder of the Cobden Centre, and one of the Conservative 2010 intake.

My usual response to scant coverage of a Conservative backbencher’s bills would be thankful, but in this case, the bill highlights something that has received astonishingly little attention: reforming the personal liability of directors. We’ve rested on the important points of how to discharge shares in effectively state-owned institutions, and how to increase lending to struggling businesses. On these issues Stephen Williams …

Posted in Op-eds | 11 Comments

What David Cameron used to say about bankers and bonuses

As ever, it’s three things to remember:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarIan MacFadyen 30th Aug - 6:57pm
    We look forward to your applications for LEEDS EAST.
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 30th Aug - 6:56pm
    good article, Joe. "propose pre-positioning command and control, logistics specialists, heavy weapons and ammunition, probably at an existing base in Szczecin in Poland" rofl. move...
  • User AvatarIan MacFadyen 30th Aug - 6:52pm
    We can't wait till next May to rebuild. We must do it now.
  • User AvatarJohn Dunn 30th Aug - 6:10pm
    Joe writes: "The big shift in public opinion came in July, when separatist rebels shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with advanced weapons" Evidence ??
  • User AvatarJoeBourke 30th Aug - 6:03pm
    The economist has a useful piece ahead of the Nato summit next week http://www.economist.com/news/international/21614166-russias-aggression-ukraine-has-made-natos-summit-wales-most-important - writing: NATO can only act by consensus, and some members...
  • User AvatarT-J 30th Aug - 6:02pm
    Ed, what do you mean by 'the Western World'? Because a good portions of the members of the European Union are intimately familiar with life...