The Great Debate UK

from Breakingviews:

UK banks have much to fear from latest probe

By Chris Hughes

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The latest competition review of UK banking should aim to be the last. An antitrust probe in 2000 led to limited price controls after concluding that British lenders made excess profit. There were two more big investigations after the financial crisis. Yet concerns about market inefficiencies persist. That suggests the Competition and Markets Authority should do something radical this time.

The CMA says it is minded to conduct a comprehensive investigation of UK banking later this year. The industry is at least as oligopolistic as it was 14 years ago. Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland have 77 percent of personal accounts and 85 percent of small-business banking.

So-called challenger banks have emerged from disposals by Lloyds and RBS as mandated by the European Commission. But the market has become more concentrated, especially in mortgages, after Lloyds swallowed Halifax and Bank of Scotland and several former building societies collapsed. Customer dissatisfaction is high. Yet just 4 percent of SME customers and 3 percent of personal customers switch accounts annually. The banks say things are already changing for the better. Twas ever thus.

The Banking Standards Review Council has the potential to make a difference

–Tim Dolan is a Partner in the Financial Markets team in King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin’s London office. The opinions expressed are his own.–

With the Financial Services Authority (FSA) already replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), what use does the UK have for another new financial sector body, the Banking Standards Review Council?

Regulatory convergence is inevitable for global markets

–Gregg Beechey is a Partner in the Financial Institutions Group at law firm King and Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin. The opinions expressed are his own.–

One of the great disappointments in the raft of regulatory changes coming out of the financial crisis of 2008 has been the failure of regulators to work together to agree a common framework and, perhaps, the lack of a greater role for the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).  There seems to be a significant disconnect between the rate at which political agreement has turned into regulatory reality in Europe, the U.S. and other parts of the world.

“Tobin Tax” is a step backward for financial markets

–Tanuja Randery is the CEO of trading services firm MarketPrizm. The opinions expressed are her own.—

As the economic downturn continues to drag on, the cynics amongst us might be forgiven for thinking that the “Tobin Tax” is a move by politicians to curry public favour by taking punitive measures against the financial services sector.

Is the U.S. picking on our banks?

By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.

Standard Chartered is the latest UK-based bank that seems to be getting it in the neck from our friends across the water. Firstly, there was Barclays and the Libor scandal, then there was HSBC which was fined for allowing drug-trafficked money from Mexico to go through its system and now there is Standard Chartered which is charged with “wilfully misleading” the New York Department of Financial Services and clearing $250 billion of Iranian transactions through its U.S. operation.

Two can be a coincidence, but three in as many months? Since the news on Standard Chartered broke there has been a torrent of investors, politicians and even some in the media who have queried whether this is just an attempt by Washington to discredit London and re-establish New York as the world’s financial centre.

from The Great Debate:

The Trojan Horse of cost benefit analysis

By John Kemp
The writer is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.

LONDON - Should federal government agencies have to prove the benefits of new regulations outweigh the costs before introducing them?

from Breakingviews:

RBS shows watchdogs need power to stop M&A

By Peter Thal Larsen
The author is a Retuers Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The failure of Royal Bank of Scotland shows bank reform still has some way to go.

from FaithWorld:

Pope slams selfish food speculators, urges curbs on world commodity markets

(Traders in the Corn options pit at the CME Group signal orders shortly before the closing bell in Chicago, February 11, 2011/Frank Polich )

Pope Benedict said on Friday financial trading based on "selfish attitudes" is spreading poverty and hunger and called for more regulation of food commodity markets to guarantee everyone's right to life. "Poverty, underdevelopment and hunger are often the result of selfish attitudes which, coming from the heart of man, show themselves in social behaviour and economic exchange," the pope told a U.N. food agency conference.

Mansion House Hangover

Last night’s two big Mansion House speeches were impressive when they dealt with the macroeconomy, but depressing (if unsurprising) on the subject of reforming the banks, representing final confirmation of the gloomy conclusion of a blog I posted here in September 2009: It’s All Over – the Banks Have Won.

Of course the banks will squeal – why wouldn’t they? After all, they daren’t be seen cracking open the bubbly.

Matthew Elderfield on re-shaping Ireland’s regulatory system

Matthew ElderfieldMatthew Elderfield, Head of Financial Regulation at the Central Bank of Ireland, will lay out his vision for a new Irish regulatory landscape at a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker on Wednesday 6 April.

‘Ireland: Re-shaping the Regulatory and Banking System’ will be hosted by Reuters’ Jodie Ginsberg, UK and Ireland Editor, and will be streamed live to the Reuters UK website as part of our rolling coverage from 0830 BST.

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