The only banking inquiry worth having

3 07 2012

I don’t much care if Bob Diamond’s gone. I mean, I’m glad he’s gone, but it’s all a bit of a distraction.

I don’t much care about the government’s inquiry to find out exactly who did what when in the Libor-rigging scandal. I mean, it needs to happen, but we know enough already to make our minds up.

And I don’t much care for an inquiry into the culture of banking – we’ve all known for ages that this is a thinly-veiled criminal operation, even if the politicians have only just found out.

Nor even do I hugely care for an inquiry into the relationship between bankers and politicians – again, we all know the former had the latter wrapped round their fingers, via donations, lobbying, cronyism and the politicians’ own ideological delusions. For most of us outside Westminster, the only thing we want from our politicians is to sod off and let some grown-ups take charge.

What I want is an inquiry into banking. Banking as an industry, as a service, as a concept. I want an inquiry that, yes, sifts through the details of the Libor scandal, and the details of how bankers behaved and misbehaved, and pins responsibility where it needs to be pinned.

But all that will be sepia one day. No inquiry into the Libor scandal will have a worthwhile legacy unless it addresses and answers the following:

– why were the investment banks bailed out?

– where did the bailout money – our bailout money – go?

– what roles are and have been played, both negatively and positively, by investment banks in Britain’s economy and politics?

– what is the proper role and purpose of investment banking and retail banking for Britain’s public interest?

– what is the best structure of ownership and regulation to deliver that proper role and purpose?

– what is the best means of providing credit to the economy, and internationally, what would be a better way of providing credit to governments?

I want to know why we bailed out the criminal enterprise that brought down our economy to the tune of £1.2 trillion. I want to know what has been done with that money, and if and how we can get it back. I want to know what bits of investment banking, if any, are of use to the rest of us – because the rest needs to go, now. And I want to know why banking is assumed to be best under the control of spivs and shareholders.

Anything less – anything less – is just noise.

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3 07 2012
The only banking inquiry worth having « Act of Defiance

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