The Financial Services Authority has since the credit crunch had a bee in its bonnet about the incentives and rewards offered by financial firms and whether these encourage risky behaviour. It’s a perfectly reasonable concern. Big bonuses probably did skew behaviour towards excessive risk taking in some cases, although the crazy risks run by employee-shareholders at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers suggest it might be a more complex picture.
President Obama, in a speech on the financial crisis at Georgetown University in April, spoke eloquently about the need to move away from a Wall Street-fueled “bubble and bust economy.” But Obama’s proposal for overhauling the financial regulatory system falls well short of his stated goal of making “sure such a crisis never happens again.”
Did Mervyn King miss his true vocation? Last night he compared the Bank of England to a church – with the Governor as the priest – as he took to the Mansion House pulpit to pour a rhetorical bucket of cold water over guests at the Lord Mayor’s banquet.