The Great Debate UK
- Bob McDowall is research director, Europe, at TowerGroup, a research and advisory services firm focused exclusively on the global financial services industry. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The banking results being published this week are inseparable from the catastrophic financial events of the last two years. It is time to glance back to where we have been and determine where we are now.
Almost two years ago, the slow-burning fuse to a financial services bomb was lit with the run on Northern Rock. The UK Government and its financial regulatory agencies defused that bomb “minutes” before it could devastate the UK banking and financial system in October 2008.
Official records will not be available for public scrutiny for 30 years or more, but anecdotal evidence indicates that at least one bank was within days of literally running out of cash. It has also been speculated that moves were planned by some businesses to prevent the customers of ailing banks from withdrawing cash from joint and third-party ATMs, although this has been denied.
Three months is a long time in the markets, and particularly for banks. Alongside the rally in bank shares, investors have also bid up bank bonds, especially so-called tier 1 bonds which rank just above the equity in the list of creditors.
Revolting shareholders were reduced to throwing shoes and coins at the chairman at Tuesday’s meeting to approve the carve-up of the failed Benelux bancassurer, but to no avail.