OK Prime Minister - what about the long term?
I've just been in the press conference with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. I asked them: "As you are the ultimate stewards of the financial system don't you owe the British people an apology for the fear, financial panic and silent bank run of the last 48 hours"
Gordon Brown told me that once I understood the long term aspect, the restructuring of the banking system involved here, I would "rethink the question".
I then went to a "non-attributable technical briefing" with ministers and civil servants at the Treasury.
I asked: "Can you point me to any technical aspects of today's deal that are part of the long term restructure of the financial system: bearing in mind that the 250bn liquidity access cannot be long-term?"
The non-attributable answer was basically, that's for another day.
I think however this long term issue overhangs all the dramatic proceedings of the past two days. If in the medium term we end up with a banking system that is part state-capitalised, with dividends - ie profits - depressed, bonuses heavily suppressed, predatory cynical manipulation of customer churn and rip off credit card practices are actually banned, what is going to be the driving spring of the banking system?
A part-socialised banking system has to have a social goal wider than saving the markets from collapse. What is it to be? What is it to look like?
There has been a theme running through both government and opposition statements that "it'll be better regulated during the next asset price bubble". But I thought I saw in the PM's eye a glint - and it was a steely glint this morning, betokening the fact that he thinks he's pulled something off of global significance - of a vision of a system where asset price bubbles become impossible.
Today will be a day for poring over the details but I think - at the price of near system destroying chaos and several high-flying careers - the government bought itself time to think. We now need to hear the results of that thinking.
PS. It is now clear that another reason they took so long is that the banks resisted it. I am hearing the words HSBC a lot in the discussions. As I have had 4 hours sleep I will now have a Blueberry smoothie and try and read all the stuff. If you are in the markets, or a customer, or a government insider who wants to give me something of a more useful non-attributable briefing about all this, do write, text or call.