Thursday, 11 June 2015

Signal failure

So, last Friday the FT confidently announced that George Osborne 'will signal an end to “banker bashing” next week, amid a clamour from the City for him to ease off on regulation and cut the controversial bank levy.'

The signal clearly didn't get through to the Governor of the Bank of England when he 'called for longer prison sentences for bankers who break the law, in a speech attacking ethics in the City' at his Mansion House speech. 'I agree with Mark', added Osborne.*

Like a daft boy, I fell for the FT's trailed version of the speech, on the grounds that:
  • He who pays the piper calls the tune, so he might have blurted an outrageously indiscreet a shout out on behalf of his party's sponsors** while still pumped up with post-election-victory feelings of invulnerability.
  • Typically 'x will say'/'x is expected to announce' stories are deliberately leaked by the person being quoted to get the crucial agenda-setting sound-bite into the headlines.
Except when the story turns out to be complete rubbish.

I'm happy to have been proved wrong on this one. If publicly toadying up to failed, bailed, unjailable Big Finance is becoming as unacceptable here in Britain as it seems to be in the USA, that's got to be a good sign.

*Well, that was the gist - George's full banker bash went:
The public rightly asks: 'Why is it after so many scandals so few individuals have faced punishment in the courts?'
Individuals who fraudulently manipulate markets and commit financial crime should be treated like the criminals they are - and they will be. 
** There was a bit of flannel about how honoured Britain's economy was to be hosting such a grotesquely disproportionate concentration of dysfunctional, hypertrophied financial institutions (without mentioning HSBC by name), but no news of bank levy concessions and nothing so outrageous as Osborne's predicted channelling of Bob Diamond.