The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Savers shoulder the inevitable burden of bad loans

Britain's new coalition government likes to remind voters we are all in this together. The phrase is rather glib. But in an important sense savers and borrowers around the world are finding the costs of reckless lending are falling on the innocent and guilty alike.

Few people this century will have experienced what it is like to turn up at their bank and be told they cannot withdraw deposited funds because the bank has "suspended" payments.

Suspension sounds harmless. But before the spread of deposit insurance, the word was enough to strike fear into the hearts of depositors, who risked losing much if not all their life savings, and being made to wait months or years for access to what remained.

Between 1930 and 1933, more than 9,000 banks across the United States were "suspended", accounting for $6.9 billion or 15 percent of all deposits in the country, according to official figures. Behind those numbers are tales of misery for families, farmers and small businesses suddenly left without funds when their bank was suspended or collapsed forever.