The Great Debate UK

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.

The Vickers Report apparently never took seriously the only possible remedy for Too Big To Fail, which would be, as I have argued previously and as the Governor of the Bank of England came out publicly as favouring in his Mansion House speech of 2009, to break up the banks, separating investment banking (the “casino”) from the utility (retail deposit-taking etc).

This reform would not be a perfect solution. Even if it resulted in far smaller institutions, it would not necessarily prevent a possible wave of bank failures forcing a taxpayer bailout, if for example the insolvency of a medium-size bank threatened to bring down a string of other lenders in its wake. But