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Banks' rescue plan: Good or bad idea?

Nick Robinson | 08:57 UK time, Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Don't worry your heads. The government's buying shares on your behalf in institutions that are basically sound and will eventually sell them and get your money back. That appears to be the message coming from some today. It begs - the admittedly facetious - question - if part-nationalising the banks was such a great idea, why didn't we do it years ago? Let's be clear.

The optimists can point to the experience of Sweden in the early 1990s. A government - of the centre right, as it happens - part-nationalised its banks and issued sweeping guarantees for inter-bank lending. The government got most of its money back in the form of dividends and the eventual re-privatisation of one of the banks it nationalised.

The pessimists can observe that saving the banks of a small country - which was not in the midst of a global financial crisis - is very different from what the British government is trying to do. There are no guarantees that we will get our cash back. What's more, even if we do, that money is not available in the intervening period to spend cutting taxes or raising public spending to get us through the recession that appears to be looming.

There is another cost too, to the reputation of London as the emerging financial capital of the world and thus to a cornerstone of our recent prosperity. That - as I wrote last night - will have huge consequences for the economy and for politics.

UPDATE, 11:45 AM: I asked Gordon Brown where the money was coming from, at his news conference this morning. His answer was that borrowing would be extended to cover up to £50 billion for taking a stake in those banks that need it, and stressed that he hoped that the taxpayer would eventually get their money back. As for the other couple of hundreds of billions of pounds, he said that these were loans on commercial terms.

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What he's simply unwilling to do is to spell out the downside risks. His aides explain this by saying that he's keen to maintain confidence in the economy.

What's clear is that the old politics of tax and spend is dead. It's not long ago when any proposal to spend a few million (as against hundreds of billions) was greeted by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling with the cry that you had to show how you'd cut spending or raise taxes to pay for it.


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  • Comment number 1.

    What is clear is that we have a chancellor and prime minister who are prepared to take risks with the economy and people's livelihoods, by using taxpayers money to prop up their pals in the banking system.
    What is needed is bold, decisive leadership and a well-thought out economic recovery plan.
    Bail-outs on the hoof using taxpayer's cash again to write blank cheques for Brown's banking buddies are not the way to run an economy.

  • Comment number 2.

    Why oh why should my hard-earned and easily fleeced tax go to pay off the hardships of speculators who have invested in a bank in Iceland.

    Despite behind Conservative I have gone along with the Governments' more recent efforts to save us from the Brown stuff, but this paying off the woes of investors who have helped keep the government of iceland afloat - with no benefit whatsoever to the UK economy - has gone too far?

    What next? Will we subsidise those investors who have lost out in the Bank of Nigeria or Bank of Madagascar crash?

    If you speculate abroad, your losses are abroad - not my or any other British tax payers responsibility?

  • Comment number 3.

    It has been stated over and over that the aim is to get banking 'back to normal' so companies and individuals can get more credit...

    At the same time, we are told that an excess of credit was the cause of the problem...

    Taxpayer money (via the treasury) should not be given to the banks to be loaned back to the taxpayers (as customers) for a banks private profit.

    Taxpayer money (as tax cuts) should be left with the taxpayer so they can PAY OFF their debts.

    Then the taxpayers won't default, the banks will have their money, shops will make sales and everything is back to normal.

    If the government take our money for the banks to lend back to us, then the credit snowball keeps rolling and just gets even bigger -- bust postponed, but the mother of all busts when it does come.

  • Comment number 4.


    you are getting better. A very speedy new log, timely too.

    As we are seeing with the falls in the stock market the banks now do not constitute as much of the index as they used to, there values have been eroded.

    A governmnet supported recapitalisation scheme, now if they were to seek this money through the real market then they would offer shares which would have voting rights. Why no votes, why an arms length involvement. Why this preference idea, yes we will get dividends but without any control.

    I demand no taxpayers money without representation, an age old call but a serious and real one.

    Bold and far reaching solutions, that was what was needed. This is neither bold but it sure is far reaching. It breaks new ground but it will not restore confidence. Jobs and prosperity, nonsense.

    A comprehensive restructuring of the banking industry. This is not conventional thinking:

    the flows of money between banks, the special liquidity scheme, cough, cough:

    suppport the banks through preference shares, only £25 billion, plus £25 billion

    plus guarantees, investments, what on earth is this man on.

    Families and businesses to help the economy move forward. Ah, revenge for the Cod Wars, we are taking action against Iceland, insist on credit lines, executive remuneration blah, blah blah.

    We can look forward to a fairer and more equitable consultation European wide funding plan.

    A gathering, we are being tested, let's have a summit, the right conditions, oh please note the statement was given by Gordon Brown, not the chancellor, Gordon is the Prime Minister not the chancellor, whose plan is this.

    Easier for longer time lending rather than overnight. Part of a process,

    Where is this money coming from, good point. Borrowing, buying shares, preference shares, not ordinary shares, stability of the banking system, a sound banking system. We expect a return on our investment.

    If we didn't do anything... would the world come to an end

    Another good question, why not ten years ago, we are putting money into the system, it is not only governments.

    Nick, this is appalling, I want a guarantee to my savings. Your questions are getting more incisive, well done. Keep learning, where is Robert Peston, coming up with another story to undermine the system.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick can we please put to bed one lie from the Labour spinners.
    The Swedish bail-out is a very poor precedent. It was very small by comparison and the Swedish taxpayer lost billions, let me quote from Wikipaedia : "This bailout initially cost about 4% of Sweden's GDP, later lowered to between 0–2% of GDP depending on various assumptions due to the value of stock later sold when the nationalized banks were privatized."

    This is an utter disaster for the UK. It makes "Black Wednesday" in 1992 look like a small trifle. When will the BBC present it as such, rather than cut n paste whatever the Labour spinners tell you to say?

  • Comment number 6.

    This is starting to make Black Wednesday look merely slighly off white... To be topped off, no doubt, by Brown blaming global forces for this unexpected "return to boom and bust" despite taking the credit for all the boom times.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Bail-outs on the hoof using taxpayer's cash again to write blank cheques for Brown's banking buddies are not the way to run an economy."

    Maybe so, but what IS the answer? Currently the global economy is in or heading towards meltdown. The comparisons with the depression may be overblowm, but only insofar as we are at the start - the Greta Depression had to start somewhere. We have a chance tio avoid one, or to fall into it.

    I for one have no desire to lose my job and home and live on state handouts in a tent city, so until someone can come up with something better to at least avoid total collapse, what the government offers is the best we can expect.

    No one is offering anything better.

    I despise Brown and especially Darling who have clearly put their own political future ahead of the country's needs, but in the meantime we should support them until something better is clearly there.

  • Comment number 8.

    We need a financial system simply to allow the economy to function. The problem is that for too long now the regulators have had no idea of excatly what the banks have been up to, and to some extent neither have bank management.
    We've had experience that govenrments cannot run businesses of any kind successfully and, although they have not yet nationalised the banks, I have no confidence that they could run a bank successfully.
    They should focus on the needs of the UK domestic economy, and ensure that sufficient financial services are available to British business, perhaps by allowing new small banks to open and perhaps by increasing the range of services that building societies can offer. Then let the "big" banks sink or swim by theselves.
    Frankly this amount proposed isn't going to be enough and they'll be back.

  • Comment number 9.

    Spot on, theorangeparty. Labour will say and do anything because it's not their money that they're spending. Profligacy is in their DNA so they can never stop; might as well ask Mandelsnake to stop crawling on his belly. Won't happen.

    We've had enough. Go away Labour. Even if you announced you could turn water into wine you'd still lose the general election.


  • Comment number 10.

    I have just had the press conference cut off by the BBC Radio 5 so can only comment on what I have heard.

    Gordon Brown cannot be allowed to get away with blaming the States. How can he insist on anything, this is pie in the sky stuff.

    I'm sorry but this is so deeply flawed, people have contracts, you can't just break them. What on earth is he talking about, he will control dividend policy, remuneration policy. That is without any actual power, he has given them the money but we, the taxpayer, have no involvement. This is going to lead to a situation worse than the Great Depression. You won't see the same levels of poverty, what it will lead to is despair, a loss of what is it all about, what exactly is the point anymore. There actually is no point, it is all about money, in the words of Shakespeare, 'we are now all pimps and whores'.

    Nick, your point is very valid about what will not be done which would have been done. Our pensions are ruined, our children and grandchildren will be seriously impoverished.

    This is a scorched earth policy, they must not be allowed to get away with this.

  • Comment number 11.

    While this rescue may put us back on the road to recovery it has also put us back on the road to the next boom and the next bust. We need to have a very radical re-think about the way we manage economics and social stability in the next 20 years and then beyond.

    We also need a strong fiscal regulator not the ineffectual FSA an authority with some real clout and the remit to serve the fiscal interest of the entire nations community not just the financial sector which it has to achieve through controlling the financial sector.

    It is not the big issues that breaks any defences but the small excess that affect every one of us and damage minorities that destabilises systems (10%tax) They economy and social cohesion must be safeguarded in the next ten years while we come up with a real solution to the global social and economic problems we face otherwise this so called rescue will be good money after bad and we might as well have let the lot go and start a fresh

    The problem is with a rescue everyone breaths a sigh of relief and with that exhale goes half the lesson learnt. It is vital that some start thinking about the alternative solution the route to the 2nd half of the century in tact. Some positive suggestions may be found amongst the wheat and chaff by clicking the link to my other recent BBC blogs responses. There is a future as well as the present only the past is gone.

    you have to change the belief that success is measured by your personal achievements and reward people by what they achieve for others. That is a major leap in human nature that will then bring about the social and economic environment we desire (or just need) it will create an interesting scenario if a bankers bonuses were based on what had been earned by the country or the businesses they funded rather than the spurious products they stitched their peers and their customers up with.

    Reward savings, reward cooperation, reward sustainability and it should be that no one other than those who opt out has to go without. We need to define desirability, confirm ethics and morality, engender citizenship and community, profile wealth, success, happiness and contentment, separate price, cost, value and worth, and encourage hope, charity and inclusion within a sustainable global society.
    I make no apologies for repeating here comments I may have made elsewhere in the BBC blogs For some suggestions as to solutions rather than just moans about others then see my links to other comments thank you.

  • Comment number 12.

    Darling and Brown were dithering, hiding in their bunker,
    They have no clue what's going on, the grey man and the clunker.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Chancellor's recovery plan is more sensible and creative than the US plan to buy toxic assests or the Irish plan to guarantee to all deposits. If any banking system is likely re-emerge as the financial capital of the world, it is surely London.

  • Comment number 14.

    With the expertise, technology etc available today there should have been a Disaster Recovery Plan to cover emergencies such as this with enough resources to cover it ALL.

  • Comment number 15.

    Perhaps before putting any state money into the banks all the bonuses paid to the employees who have caused this mess should be repaid. If the headline figures are anywhere near true then that would make a good inroad into stabilising the situation and giving the banks the liquidity they need.

  • Comment number 16.

    What worries me is that the tax payer may be screwd for a generation paying this off.
    Might not be worth working for a living anymore as the tax take will make your eyes water!!
    Well done Labour, you have well and truely knackered UK Plc AGAIN!!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nick - your fears for the reputation of the City of London are parochial. The whole world (except, it seems amazingly, Africa) is in financial turmoil.

    The Government is trying to keep ahead of the game - and they know as well as you or I do that it may work, or another horrible shudder may go through the world markets and we are all doomed.

    Good luck to the Government, I say. Otherwise its bread and water for all of us.

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh Dear a BBC sponsored Conservative Party Political Broadcast. Not a suprise from an ex "Young Conservative" such as yourself.

    If the Goverment had done this two weeks ago they would have been accused of undermining the workings of the free market. I'm pretty sure that in the intervening period each day both the media and the opposition will have been drafting contradictory responses to potential Goverment moves. It's just hypocrisy.

    The Tories latest line that we should have saved for this rainy day didn't seem to be their line during the sunny period when they promised to split the proceeds of growth between tax cuts and public spending.

    Put simply we need the Banks for all areas of our economy. A colleague of mine has been trying to re-mortgage for the last 4 months. Despite an excellent payment record she is now paying a high interest rate as the 2 year deal she signed up to has run out. The extra £350 per month she is paying would have been spent or saved, stimulating the economy. Times this by the many thousands in her position and it is obvious how the banking sector affects normal people on modest incomes.

    We have been stuck in a downwards spiral. Therefore we needed some action, the action taken seems fit for purpose and certainly our Government have been more responsive than others. They should have insisted base rate reductions are passed on, but that is the only problem I see at this early stage.

    I find this kind of dammed if you, dammed if you don't journalism childish and frankly not worthy of the funding I provide you with.

    There seems to be a section of the media and almost certainly one Political Party who want the Government to fail on this one whatever the cost to normal people.

  • Comment number 20.

    "It begs the question"? You should say "raises the question." The term "begging the question" refers to a specific form of logical fallacy in which the conclusion of an argument becomes its premise.

  • Comment number 21.

    So we have no money to properly equip our troops but with the wave of a wand we can find £250bn to bail out a bunch of overpaid bankers who were no good at their job.
    Perhaps the banking and system and government should revaluate their concept of risk?

  • Comment number 22.

    Ing Direct (UK) are now publishing that savers will get back £77,000 under the Dutch Banking Scheme.

  • Comment number 23.

    Where will the money come from, asks BBC political editor Nick Robinson at the press conference. Mr Brown says the government is buying shares in the banks and taxpayers will get the "upside".

    So he didnt answer that question

    So, adds Robinson, the government is making a vast investment on behalf of taxpayers - if it is such a great idea why did they not do it earlier? The chancellor says they are doing it because it is necessary to stabilise the economy.

    So he didnt answer that question

    Asked why the government won't guarantee everyone's savings, Mr Brown sticks to his previous form of words to say that the government has always protected savers.

    So he didnt answer that question

    Mr Brown is accused of trying to walk away from the wreckage of the financial system he created "smelling of roses". Now is not the time to talk about the past, says the prime minister

    So he didnt answer that question

    Mr Brown is asked if he would apologise to the British people for the chaos of the past few days? No, is the answer

    Wow he answered one, not exactly the right answer though from someone who supposedly listens and hears and understands

    Nick when you ask a question and so obviously dont get an answer why dont you ask it again and again until you get an answer. We all know how uncomfortable that make the politicians you only need to watch paxman to see that, That surely is your job as a journalist, keep asking the question until you get the answer

  • Comment number 24.

    What has become patently obvious is that the creation of the Tripartite structure by Gordon Brown including the FSA was a cataclysmic disaster.

    Deregulation had already taken place under Thatcher; there was simply no need to add an even greater degree of freedom.

    There was no need for this kind of bailout in he early nineties after the previous banking boom because there simply wasn't this degree of leverage and off balance sheet toxic waste.

    The fact is that this leverage started to go into overdrive from 2000 under the new Tripartite regulatory system and rather than do something about it; Gordon Brown led by example and proceeded to add billions onto the national debt; add billions off balance sheet.

    He now wants those respnonsible to be held to account but he won't hold himself to account for his own spednaholic ways and lack of oversight.

    The man is a complete hypocroite; the only rational thing to do this morning to accompany this announcement would be the announcement of his own resignation.

    He is the architect of the problem.

    Constantly blaming America begs the question - 'Caveat emptor?' The banks were not forced into buying US mortgages but Gordon Brown's lax regulation made leverage so attractive they fell for it.

    If I was an American I'd refuse to let him get off the plane next time he landed in my country.

    Call an election.

    He's a hypocrite and a national disgrace.

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear Nick

    Politically this entire "crisis" is now more than a crisis, I cannot for the life of me see this working,
    So lets stop trading, and batten down the hatches, "What then"?

  • Comment number 26.

    So, the ultras of free market capitalism brought to their knees by a combination of mindless excess and the inherent instability of the system they have milked for so long.

    Don't worry, in the long term we will be much better off without the parasitic activities of the City in its current form. The people who traditionally work there, many of them quite bright, will have to do something useful instead of frittering away their time in non jobs which create nothing other than personal enrichment at the expense of others.

    A cruel and flawed ideology heading towards its Berlin Wall moment. Great days indeed!

  • Comment number 27.

    Both Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling could have given depositors a 100% guarantee - they didn't.

    Brown and Darling could have forced the Bank of England to immediately cut interest rates - they didn't.

    Both these decisive actions would have prevented the banking sector from collapse and help stabilise the markets.

    What we got instead was Brown and Darling dithering over what to do.

    The markets took their cue from that, and what have now is a panic move by Brown and Darling to part nationalise the banks at taxpayers expense.

    Who needs 'novices' when we have 'numpties' like Brown and Darling in charge.

  • Comment number 28.

    Good to know that our comrades in government have figured out how to pick up a turd by the clean end.

  • Comment number 29.

    How do the gruesome twosome get away with it?

    What they have announced is an 'investment'. So why does the PM only talk about taking advantage of the 'upside'. Surely the whole point with investments is that they're not guaranteed, and there is an obvious and associated potential downside too. Companies offering investments have to make sure that their communication is clear, fair and not misleading (the FSA mantra) regarding that fact so how can the PM get away with it?

    The Chancellor also said that they will carefully scrutinise the books of business they will effectively underwrite. So what if they don't like what they see? They will see plenty of self cert retail mortgages out there that anyone could get in the "good" ol' days - so what if they turn their noses up at those? Is that going to end up as a double-whammy for the taxpayer - stump up the cash AND then be told that the bank (the Government) doesn't want your business any more?

    If they've thought this through, it's escaped me!!

  • Comment number 30.


    Take my advice. Ask hard questions not questions that dummies ask.

  • Comment number 31.

    Okay, I support the Government in their endeavour to stabilise the banking system, lets deal with the problem now. I hope though the banks do not have short memories after this. 5 years a go I ran into financial trouble but I bailed myself out, no Individual Voluntary Arrangements or anything. It was all my own fault and the banks were viscous in making sure I realised that. Now the banks are in a position where it is all their own fault too but we are bailing them out. The tax payer didn't bail me out. Time for the banks to be more humble as far as I am concerned.

  • Comment number 32.

    Well, New Labour's policies are truly nailed to the mast "we'll bail out our mates in the city in the hopes of getting similar fat-cat salaries once we're out of office".

  • Comment number 33.

    When the Banks were busy moving money around the system, (our money) everything seemed hunky dory.

    Now they are refusing to lend any to anyone, where has that money gone to ?
    Are they just sitting on it, and going to use real Public Money to persuade the system to get moving again

    Or has it all been just fantasy money and now push has come to shove, Real Money - again our money - has to be used with faint hope that we might see it again.

    As it seems that any/or all of the above may be true, my faith in the Fianancial system is severely shaken and reinforces my distrust of the whole enterprise, but now its failing, what can any one individual do to restore that faith and stop any future wild speculation to try and prevent a re-occurance ?

  • Comment number 34.

    A Bank rescue deal - great news!

    So why are the shares falling?

    I assume its because the rescue is part nationalisation.

  • Comment number 35.


    Watched you questioning the PM ( who seemed to hogg the show rather than the Chancellor)

    Can you clarify did he actually answer your question as to where the money for this rescue plan is coming from??

  • Comment number 36.

    Hmm, fawning politicians, what about fawning BBC reporters who were falling over their prawn cocktails to get access to the bankers, who were most likely their old Oxbridge college friends, believing their lies, refusing to look to deeply, keeping the public entertained with not-so-penetrating analysis.
    We live in a democracy and with the BBC to inform, sorry entertain (that what BBC news has become) us we're unable to make decisions about the rather narrow choice of parties we're offered?
    It's only a bit better in the papers (more Oxbridge clones) where the occasional maverick voice gets heard.
    The BBC shouldn't be so smug, they recycled PR material as news, and insider tips (over prawn cocktails with their mates) as solid information, believed the hype, were so desperate to be in with the in crowd they lost the plot.
    Blog entries from the public who don;t get invited to city events, are so much better...

  • Comment number 37.

    re: 16, Cablesmartial

    What worries me is that the tax payer may be screwd for a generation paying this off.

    It will indeed be 'slave Labour'.

  • Comment number 38.

    I dont see an alternative to this action but it should be seen as the initial pass on a plan that demonstrates that Brown and Darling are capable of managing a recovery and to run our economy properly with the tax-payers interesta as the first priority.
    We dont need to hear any more of this "novice" stuff because the situation is truly serious.
    What we now need to hear is the detail on the pre-conditions of this loan and how they are positively going to help small businesses and high morgage payers.
    Clearly at national level the now huge borrowing is not sustainable.
    So what I also want to hear from Brown and Darling is how they are going to forceably reduce bugets in all Goverment Departments including Government itself in order to close the borrowing gap.
    They also need to bite the bullet and address the clearly unfair(remember Brown's speak) differentiation between public sector and pension arrangements.

  • Comment number 39.


    Labour spinners like David Cameron you mean?

    He saw the way the wind was blowing and what the Government were likely to do, and was talking about the merits of the 1990s Swedish bail-out at the weekend to pre-empt it and claim it has Conservative thinking.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good old ING Direct - what is it that keeps them ok - more sensible than our lot.

    Like I said, during the Labour rule the country got out of hand personal and commercial finances up the spout. Tony Blair thought he would bomb around the world as a "saviour" whilst ignoring what was happening here.

    Britain tries to save the world but can't save itself.

  • Comment number 41.

    Why should we have done something before?, if you are so smart why were you not advocating the plan?, wise after the event as usual .
    This was a mess made by greedy banks and it was wise to wait until they needed bailing.

  • Comment number 42.


    people must stop talking about banks. This is about bankers, people not institutions. even though I set up banking systems there is always the need for people, it is people who make decisions, not computers. You may talk about automated dealing systems, they still need to have the parameters built in, that is still a persons decision.

    When Darling Brown talk about talking to the banks, they can't, they talk to bankers, people! What are we expected to believe that Darling Brown go around talking to buildings.

    This is a scorched earth policy for whichever government takes over after the next general election, which must be held, unless something happens of course. Were there any elections during the previous world wars?

    We are heading for a planned economy, something which nobody voted for. This must not be allowed to happen, Brown is not only an Aspidistra, he is also dangerous, very dangerous and I for one do not underestimate him. Be afraid fellow Brits, be very afraid.

    In the meantime I read that he is actually taking my advice and going to Glenrothes, even though Mandelson is not being a candidate. I can only hope that the good people of Glenrothes do what is actually best for the long term future of the United Kingdom, do not elect a labour candidate, it will be the end.

    I am totally independent and am affiliated to no political party, I just believe in human nature, in the power of the people. I hope you print this log.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hello Nick,

    Well I am just a simple working class man,so I see it a simple way.....

    Why should the normal person in the street continue to support the nouveau rich in the errors of their ways with our money?

    I note the ex director of Northern Rock is still playing cricket on a nice fat pay off,and they they continue to sponsor rugby and football teams;can I have a ticket for the best box in the house?

    This so called prime minster has made a critical decision to gamble our money with out a by your leave,asking parliament;and to cap it all he is a non elected PM as far as I am concerned.How about scrapping the John Lewis list Gordon?

    I can just see it now as I get a letter from my bank saying they are going to put my interest up on my small company overdraft.Talk about having your cake and eating it!!

    I am totally sick of paying for other peoples mistakes.

    Get a grip Gordon ,and so much for the silence of the lambs Tory party.

    I do not remember get all this help when I first went bankrupt ?

    Yours disgusted.

  • Comment number 44.

    I dont know why you’re so popular. You suck up to Ministers instead of making them sweat over hard topics.

  • Comment number 45.

    An interesting situation. Now that banks are effectively registered charities, in return for tax-payers money I'd like to see them form a brass band along the lines of the Salvation Army.

  • Comment number 46.

    ING have acquired £3billion of UK investors' in Iceland banks. It will end up with several huge worldwide banks who are sensible and the little ones will disappear. I for one would transfer to ING right now, or Abbey (Santander), LLoyds etc.

  • Comment number 47.

    re: 26, sagamix

    Don't worry, in the long term we will be much better off without the parasitic activities of the City in its current form. The people who traditionally work there, many of them quite bright, will have to do something useful instead of frittering away their time in non jobs which create nothing other than personal enrichment at the expense of others.

    So quangos as well then?

  • Comment number 48.

    AD said on the BBC this morning that the government had to borrow this money to bail out the Banks. He also said that this has cost every taxpayer in the country £2000 .....(at the moment).

    I sincerely hope that the interest rate Britain PLC will be paying to our "lenders" is a lot less than the interest rate the Bank will be paying for the loan, but as it's the "old boys network", I very much doubt it.

    Given the self-inflicted instability of the Banking sector, I also wonder if Northern Rock are still making payments to the Treasury for the £26bn loan used to bail them out. Things have gone a bit quiet over there lately.

    We will be repaying this debt long after we're gone, and probably long after our children have gone too, but what I find most astonishing, is how such a vast sum of money can always be found in situations like this!

  • Comment number 49.


    If the banks go down I don't think the loss of a few £10bn will be that high on our list of concerns.

  • Comment number 50.

    What were all the huge Accounting and Audit Companies doing when they checked these banks books?

    They must end up in the dock alongside the FSA who are supposed to prevent these events happening.

  • Comment number 51.

    Clearly I know nothing about banking but from what I hear success seems to revolve around confidence and confidence comes from success ? When ever Mr Darling , or Mr Brown speaks to us citizens markets seem to go into a tail spin . Could it just be that Mr Darling never , ever looks confident ?

  • Comment number 52.

    Britain is battered by waves
    While Labour treat us like slaves,
    Things can't get much worse
    Under Nu-Labour's curse,
    Bring on the election we crave!

  • Comment number 53.

    A waste of money, our money. Government intervention wont stop or slow down this DEPRESSION. The market will prevail in the end (it always does) so please stop wasting our money. IMO there will be many more "take overs" of the weaker or should I say less well run banks and other organizations by their stronger better run competitors. This might give the "competitions commission" a problem but not if it suits the governement i.e Lloyds TSB take over of HBOS. What's happening today? Exactly the same as happened in the US last week after their "knee jerk plan" to inject their $700 billion "rescue package", the markets are still falling. They will come back in time, when buyers decide the price is right to buy.I think Brown and Darling will be loving this, all other bad news is "buried" although this crisis is exposing their sheer inabilities. Who is running this country, politicians or Bankers?

  • Comment number 54.

    This is what I blogged this morning on my own little blog

    If this is a game of poker, have we shown our hand too early
    Tuning in to the Today programme this morning I learned that the Government had announced its latest rescue package for UK banks.
    The Government is going to make £50b available for banks to access if they require funds to shore up their capital. This is likely to be in the form of preference shares. The first question is where is the cash coming from if as we are being told constantly, the government has no available cash. Presumably it is borrowing this from the market place, that same market place that won't lend to other banks.
    Secondly, what is the upside here for the British taxpayer? Bank shares are at a ten year low. Presumably over the medium term, with the guarantee of government support and a pledge that "we will do all that is necessary" these bank shares will rise considerably in value. Is the British tax payer getting the type of share that can be sold in due course and the benefit of the increase in share price realised?
    The second element of the rescue is that the government looks like it is going to provide a guarantee for a bank which has to the market to replace it's short term borrowing used to fund its long term mortgage lending. eg HBOS may need to replace £100b of this type of funding in the next three years or so. If the money market will not replace this borrowing the government intends to act as guarantor for the banks ability to meet any repayments on this money, and to bolster the security given to secure it. Again, any shortfall on the security will be picked up by the British taxpayer!
    My question this morning is whether the market will see fit to accept this latest offer. The government and the Bank of England have been intervening for months now by providing cash for liquidity, to little effect. This is a bigger plunge, and is significant, but the market is not driven by sentiment. My worry is that the market will effectively say, "Thanks British Government, that is a nice offer, but we think that you can go higher". Essentially they will play a game of poker and see just how far they can push not only our government but others around the world. If I am right and this is like poker, have we revealed our hand too early, and what else have we got to offer. Actually shouldn't we be calling the markets bluff and saying, that's it. Take it or leave it, there is no more.

    It's a disasterous game to play if this all goes wrong.

  • Comment number 55.

    Not to worry; as a condition of 'lending' our money to the banks, they have to promise to be responsible in future.

    Nobody ask "Or else what?". It wouldn't be... British.

  • Comment number 56.

    Darling, is a wreck of a man. I heard him this morning giving half hearted excuses on the Today Programme about why the taxpayer was getting such a bad deal out of all of this. He's effectively sold us down the river without any guarantee that we'll have a boat to go down it in. Think about it, over 1000 spondoolies for every man women and child in the country??? The mind boggles at the thought of it. This means that this money can not be spent in the 'real economy' this means that jobs will be more at risk as firms in the 'real economy' struggle. This is what is happening. This is a disgrace.

    No mention of any criminal investigation into these rogue bankers. Yes I know, some of you'll have bought into the argument that 'now is not the right time to...', but let me say this: when is the right time? When these rogue bankers have been awarded their big leaving payoffs, or when they get that 'knighthood' for 'saving' us all from the mess they created?

    Also the taxpayer is expected to do all this with little say over what is actually happening in these banks. Heads have to roll: now, not when it's over.

  • Comment number 57.

    As the public are presently not able to send e-mails to No.10, would you like to point out to the PM that his style of tie wearing is quite sloppy and does not create a positive impression for our political leader, who is trying to impress the world that he is the one, at least in our country, to lead us out of the present mess.
    This practice also seems to be current amongst many in the public eye, and beyond, another sign of sloppiness in our general culture?

  • Comment number 58.

    I don't understand why Darling says it is ridiculous to link state support with caps on bonuses. It is the bonus system which is partly responsible for getting us in this mess. Please don't tell me that this is a one way street for the banks...unlimited liquidity for no downside.

  • Comment number 59.

    People @ 47

    ... "So quangos as well then?" ...

    Yes, spot on ... the City is like one giant Quango ... nice one!

  • Comment number 60.

    I can't let PatrickGJones's comments go unanswered. The majority of people who have money with Icesave are NOT "speculators" they are simply ordinary savers. They don't own shares, but savings accounts. Internet banks like Kaupthing Edge and - to a slightly lesser degree - Icesave are registered in the UK and participate in the FSA compensatory scheme, even though their parent is based overseas. On that basis, savers are entitled to exactly the same protection as those whose money is held in a "British" bank. If we were to discriminate against such banks here, then we could only expect other countries to do the same to our banks which would make it very difficult for them to operate in the retail savings market overseas.

  • Comment number 61.

    So that's 50 billion going in as preferred loans, which is 800 for each person in the UK.
    Where's it coming from? Increased taxes? New borrowing? If so, from whom? The banks we now own?
    Or will funds be transferred from o´ther spending plans?
    I think we deserve to be told.
    Who are the masters here? Us or them?

  • Comment number 62.

    i ve just sold the hbos shares i bought last night made 25%, good money.

    the problem with the city boys is they are all mouth and no trousers. times like these seperate the men from the boys. you need to be brave.

    selling when the firm is in ok nic just because a meeting is called at 5 pm is plain silly and makes it easy for a brave investor.

    facts energy prices are ok, fact oil price is ok, fact unemployment is ok, fact 2 massive retailers tesco and sainsbury announce good profits

    this 'crisis' reminds me of the asian tiger economy crisis a few years back which turned out to be nothing.

    everything is a crisis these days getting your cat run over is a crisis in the bbcs eyes.

    the funniest thing was i heard last night on the 10 o'clock news this is the worst crisis since the 2nd world war. i mean come on surely the soviets threatening to hit us over the head with nukes was worse!

    p.s. i am waiting for the boe to keep interest rates the same. if they drop em they to have lost their bottle.

  • Comment number 63.

    I do not have an answer to the current financial situation in common with the majority of the population. There are few people with access to all the required information to make a judgement.

    There are those who think or assume they know enough but dont. Wisdom is knowing that you dont know and redressing the matter. There isn't one person out there with all the answers...maybe there isnt a complete answer...but we do have recognisable people in this country who can contribute to a solution.

    The situation is changing by the minute and therefore difficult for any entity to try and keep the nation properly and fully informed.

    I suggest that that everyone should shut up and apply their talents to supporting those from whatever sphere trying to work towards getting us out of this mess.

    We can only work through this on an hour by hour basis within a given framework


    I am sick of hearing so called experts, who appear more concerned with hidden agendas or indeed just like the sound of their own opinions, adding to the problem rather than helping.

    We have survived all manner of adversities in the past and we will do so again.

    I say again shut up and get on with doing something positive to contribute

  • Comment number 64.

    Brown is self deluded.

    He thinks he's prudent.

    But he let the house price inflation and credit card debt explode.

    And now he blames some outside force called the 'credit crunch'.

    He's not prudent.

    He's been a very naughty chancellor.

  • Comment number 65.

    So the Government are going to borrow the money...

    WHO FROM??

    The banks that it is going to be lent back to??

    So the banks get a guarenteed return on the loan to the government, and the government (taxpayer) may not even get its money back...

    But then of course, if the banks had the money to lend to the government, then why does it need to BORROW IT BACK?

    One of the fist rules of money management is NEVER BORROW TO INVEST - you risk losing your shirt.

    One of the first rules of speculating - only risk what you can AFFORD TO LOSE.

    Have brown or darling ever had to manage THEIR OWN money?

  • Comment number 66.

    63 CumbrianCookie:

    'I am sick of hearing so called experts, who appear more concerned with hidden agendas or indeed just like the sound of their own opinions, adding to the problem rather than helping.'

    Shut up then!

  • Comment number 67.

    #23 Pot_kettle

    Spot on. He's evasive as well as indecisive.

    What a travesty to have the architect of the boom rebutting questions about the bust he created.

    Failure is now etched on his face.

  • Comment number 68.

    Dear Nick
    Bad move"

  • Comment number 69.

    cumbriancookie i applaud what your saying.

    the problem basically comes down to the fact that banks have issued mortgages to people and investors are worried that defaults are going to increase.

    as property prices have reduced by a large amount repossessing the houses will not cover the liabilities therefore banks are worried about lending to each other because they are worried about the bad debts causing the banks to fold.

    important points to realise are default rates are not high enough to cause problems yet investors are worried about future problems.

    the only things i will be worried by are 1 if defaults rise (usually only happens with high unemployment which we don't have) or 2. if property prices drop more than 20% in the next 12 months (there is alot of latent demand in the economy for housing so i reckon after xmas prices will stabilise and we may see moderate increases) and everyone will think what was all the fuss about.

  • Comment number 70.

    Wait for it - all this extra debt will be an excuse for breaking the incompetent idiot's fiscal rules. Mark my words - the fact that he already broke his golden rules before all this mess, will be soon forgotten - or he's banking on it (ho ho). As the electorate we must not let him wriggle out of this and the damage he's already done.

    I see like in the US, this "miracle plan" hasn't affected anything - in fact the FTSE has worsened since the announcement. You'd think Brown would've learnt from that, but then you'd think he has a brain. Unfortunately for the country, he doesn't. Useless imbecile.

  • Comment number 71.

    Let me get this right. Has the government had to "borrow" this money to bail out the banks? So who as been daft enough to lend it to them? So the tax payers will "benefit" from all this IF the banks start performing and after we've paid back the £50 billion loan!

    Can't help but think Brown and Darling have secured their future positions on the boards of several UK banks with nice fat cat salaries.

  • Comment number 72.

    the_real_truth i take it you don't work in the city with that attitude!

    only risk what you can afford to lose!

    never borrow to invest!

    really chap come on have you ever bought a house or used credit?

  • Comment number 73.

    Great reporting Nick.

    Personally I think the Chancellor was a bit wishy washy in his promise to curb fat cat bonuses. I don't feel that he is in control of things at all. I don't like the idea of him gambling with public money at all.

    George Osbourne seems much more in command (but sadly only in opposition). I'm convinced that the Conservatives really are the party for the people now. Labour are the party for losers.

    How much is it going cost us to repay all the funds UK citizens have lost in Icesave?

  • Comment number 74.

    What a shambles... Confidence... If the present 'crisis' is about restoring confidence then the simple expedient of guaranteeing 100% of savers' funds is a 'no-brainer'... Come on Brown and Darling, get a grip, it was the 'savers' who elected you, not the banking industry. Guarantee ALL savings NOW!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    Why would the Tories (or Lib Dems for that matter) so anything different at the moment? Two reasons. One, no-one really has a clue what to do to solve the system and our adverserial system doesn't encourage the spirit of co-operation. Two, neither party needs to say anything - Brown doesn't listen to anyone else anyway!

    Economic incompetence in 1992 indirectly led to the end of the Major Government. Black Wednesday cost billions - this bailout looks like it will cost even more. Perhaps today is a new 'Blacker' Wednesday. Either way, Labour's reputation (like that of the previous Conservative Government) for economic competence is now in serious trouble.

    Howarth may have decided to end hostilities but Mandelson still lurks in the background... Beware Gordon!

  • Comment number 76.

    Dear Nick

    Is an offer to buy non-voting preference shares, and provide loan guarantees part-nationalisation, nationalisation in any shape or form? I'm not convinced you should be using that term in this context. Ownership remains in the hands of the shareholders, doen't it?

    Peter Kenyon

  • Comment number 77.

    How is it everyone has something bad to say about the current financial climate and the mess the government might or might not be getting the taxpayers into, when we don't mention what should be done to the people who created this meltdown.
    Is jail an option, maybe taking back the wealth these people stole?

    They must think we are stupid....

  • Comment number 78.


    did the government buy hbos shares this morning?

    if so i think now would be a good time to sell.

    £50bn * 150% = £75bn

    £25bn worth of tax cuts please!

  • Comment number 79.


    The Government has borrowed money from several places, China being one of them.

    Barclays bought the ailing Lehman Brothers US Brokerage for £1.75bn only last month, and HBOS were in emergency talks with Lloyds TSB about a takeover. How, then, can they plead poverty now?

    The Government has borrowed and borrowed more still to try and regulate the imbabances in the global economy and as a result, people on lower wages are now paying far too much tax.

    The next Government will have the devil's own job of getting the economy back on track - if 4 years is enough time to do it. I doubt it will be.

  • Comment number 80.

    'don't panic don't panic, there putting money in the banks don't panic don't panic'

    nick do us a favour get people like peston and the reat to open demo accounts and start trading the markets so they can find out why 80% of people lose money. If they can be consistently in the 20% then we might start to listen to their 'analysis'.

  • Comment number 81.

    #72 - borrow to 'invest', 'only risk what you can afford to lose'

    I have only taken out mortgages for the properties I have lived in -- if I can't afford a roof over my head then I am stuffed anyway...

    Credit cards are only used for convenience (apart from the 0% deals - they are maxed out and the money is sitting in my offset mortgage account - saving me interest and ready to be repaid instantly when the 0% ends).

    I have saved for what I want (including private school fees for the kids).

    Having been sensible myself, I seriously resent having massive debt repayments(future tax payments) dumped on me by my government.

  • Comment number 82.

    One question nick or anyone who cares to answer.If the government is borrowing billions to pay for this will it not lead to inflation.

  • Comment number 83.

    Like many other things, it's a case of choosing the lesser of 2 evils given the situation that the government have created.

    Either you bail out the banks with tax payer's money, or you let the whole system crash and everybody (not just the city) ultimately becomes unemployed.

    I don't like the fact that the government allowed us to get into this situation, but bailing out the banks is the only practical solution.

    Having said that, I don't believe for a moment that they'll frame the bail out in a way that gives the best deal to the tax payer or that ensures the banks don't take the relevant risks going forwards.

    Nick asked "Why didn't it happen before if it was such as good idea"

    The answer to that is a simple one:

    MPs and civil servants get guaranteed pensions paid for by the tax payer. If they had to pay into private pensions like the rest of us then Brown would have seen the risk to his own pension and his core-voters' pensions years ago and done something about regulation.

  • Comment number 84.

    While the overall support is welcome, the seeming knee jerk reaction to the predicament of Icesave depositors is worrying. These savers chased higher returns without asking themselves why Icesave was willing to pay 'top of the market'. It is right that the compensation scheme should kick in but only on the same basis that applies to all other UK banks. I wonder what the BCCI creditors make of all of this. By these actions we are creating a two tier banking market which is not healthy for the long term interest of communities up and down the country, especially those who already face marginalisation or exclusion.

  • Comment number 85.

    It is far too early to see if this is a good or bad idea. The Government could make a tidy profit or we could have just bought into billions in bad debt.

    The overall trend on the markets is upwards and I would expect that this will continue into the future.

  • Comment number 86.

    UPDATE, 11:45 AM: I asked Gordon Brown where the money was coming from, at his news conference this morning. His answer was that borrowing would be extended to cover up to £50 billion for taking a stake in those banks that need it, and stressed that he hoped that the taxpayer would eventually get their money back. As for the other couple of hundreds of billions of pounds, he said that these were loans on commercial terms

    What, what what?

    Borrowing needs to come from somewhere...and it sure as well won't be the banks....where the hell is this cash from, and more importantly. why can't the banks have access to it directly rather than involving us?

  • Comment number 87.

    This is just a sticking-plaster though; it pumps some extra liquidity into the system, but the underlying fundamentals are still a problem, and the government don't seem to be doing anything at all to address those fundamentals. In fact they don't even mention them.

    Too many bad debts; something needs to be done about those bad debts; the bad debts are still all there; this bail out money will just help the cogs of the system move for a few more days.

    The government need to make a decision about exactly what happens to those bad debts; are they written off (if so, who pays), or are they written-down (if so, who pays), or are they just allowed to fester in the system for ever? That's the ultimate cause of these problems, and that cause is still there, so the bail-out is just a temporary stop-gap, the government still hasn't even mentioned anything about the fundamentals.

  • Comment number 88.

    Now I will be the first to admit that I'm no economic whizz-kid, but as I recall from my schooldays though preference shares give the investor first picking of any profits, they don't generally come with voting rights.

    If that's the case here, how can the government say they will control the fat cat bosses salaries?

    And as for getting back to normality...why do we want to do that? After all, that 'normality' is what got us into this mess.

    Back in the Cold War days the government issued "Protect and Survive"; a booklet that told us that after the 'all clear' sounded following an attack we could come out of our shelters and "resume normal activities".

    My point?

    The government's definition of normality doesn't necessarily match what you and I consider normal.

  • Comment number 89.

    People need to get real. The Government and the rest of us just have to hold our collective nose and act to stop our high street banks from collapsing, taking our savings with them and ruining our economy. The cost to the taxpayer will be funded by (extensive) Government borrowing, which will impact on the amount available for public spending, inflation and in all probability on the value of the currency. But however unpleasant all this may be, it is nowhere near as bad as having high street banks going down and a full-scale depression, never mind a recession.

    Also, although I'm no fan of the Labour Party, Messrs Brown and Darling have, I think, done a good job thus far in dealing with the emergency. Without being unkind, Cameron and Osborne would be out of their depth if they were in government and faced with this situation - they lack the necessary 'bottom' that comes with age and experience to be able to take decisions of this magnitude.

  • Comment number 90.

    What's clear is that the old politics of tax and spend is dead. It's not long ago when any proposal to spend a few million (as against hundreds of billions) was greeted by Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling with the cry that you had to show how you'd cut spending or raise taxes to pay for it.

    Arguably, the money was already in the system but by taking the initative the government has fixed the problem and creamed off a return for the taxpayer. It's a deft move that Warren Buffet would be proud of.

    This has completely blown apart the Tory argument that they're the party of "shrewd business" and "wealth creation". Plus, it blows apart the Tories trying to talk us into recession just so they can grab power.

    Labour have the upper hand and the City by its balls which creates scope for developing a better quality finance industry that plays a bigger partnership role instead of scorched earth profiteering.

  • Comment number 91.


    It's easy to be wise in hindsight.

    I do not remember many voices from the right over the past 10 years saying:

    * "We need to regulate the financial industry and mortgage providers more heavily. They are providing irresponsible loans to people who cannot afford them"

    * "House prices are over-valued and the Government needs to take real action to introduce rationality into the market (e.g. keep stamp duty, implement a land-value tax, abolish the capital gains tax exemption that housing has, crush the speculative buy-to-let market), and not encourage first-time buyers into the market"

    * "Bankers are paying themselves bonuses that they do not deserve. They are being rewarded for taking short-term risks, which will have catastrophic (and shareholder-value damaging) long-term implications"

    I think it was mainly voices on the left saying these things.

    Indeed, the Conservatives were telling us that:

    * "The free-market knows best. The Government should quit interfering and deregulate more and stop stifling market innovation and the regulatory approach that is killing economic growth in this country"

    * "There is no house price bubble. We should abolish stamp duty, maintain the capital gains tax exemption, let the free market do its thing re BTL and give out government subsidies to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder"

    * "Bankers are paid high bonuses because they're worth it. Any comment on the size of these bonuses is "the politics of envy" and shows that Labour is returning to the 1970s. The Government should reduce tax on high-earners even further to give appropriate incentives and definitely not get involved in regulating bonuses"

    This is why you have absolutely no credibility on these matters. Things would have been even worse with the ideological deregulators in charge following tried-and-tested Thatcherite policies (rather than the pragmatic deregulators).

    You are forced to rely on the 'follow my leader' explanation - people only borrowed because they were copying what the Government was doing.

  • Comment number 92.

    Democracy is an abnormal political state in the history of human beings, short-lived experiments in illusionary freedom. It seems the people of the Western democracies do not possess the discipline to control their greed and exercise restraint. This global crisis stems from the Western democracies' greed and its corruptible and corrupted financial systems intertwined with the corruptible and corrupted political leaders, institutions and associated bureaucracies. All these need tax dollars, pounds and euros. A possible epitaph for the Western democracies' extinction: Bled to death by Taxation and garotted by Greed.

  • Comment number 93.

    Is jail an option, maybe taking back the wealth these people stole?

    They must think we are stupid....

    Creating calm is the highest priority. Fixing the issues and jailing rotten apples can come later. The government has a lot of leverage but dancing to the tune of turbo-journalism's demand for 24/7 headlines probably isn't something they want to get sucked into. There's advantages to controlling the pitch and pace of situations. They'd be fools to swap being stretched over one table for another table.
  • Comment number 94.

    Nick, your closing paragraph suggests that tax and spend is dead, at least in Brown Darling's eyes. This means borrow and spend is the new mantra, except that it's not new.
    I note that government stooges are still mouthing the mantra that we're better placed to weather this financial stro than others. Who supplies these people with the mind altering drugs they'e obviously using? Are they legal? And can we get them on the NHS?

  • Comment number 95.

    Interesting my last comment has been moderated. I'd like to know under which of the house rules. Perhaps negativity towards the BBC is not allowed....

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    A lot of glib comments about the government wasting our taxpayers money on bailing out the banks. What is the option? We lose our savings or pensions because the banks go bust. And when one bank goes bust it starts a chain reaction where other banks have investments in the bankrupt banks. Some people just have to make a political comment no matter how ridiculous and facile their argument.

  • Comment number 98.

    Q: What has the FSA been doing?

    A: Based on what I have seen they have been producing endless process and paperwork to address the mortgage and investment miss-selling that was going on 20 years ago.

    All the while they failed to regulate the miss-selling of billions of pound of worthless debt to UK banks.

    Go figure.

  • Comment number 99.

    #4: A governmnet supported recapitalisation scheme, now if they were to seek this money through the real market then they would offer shares which would have voting rights. Why no votes, why an arms length involvement. Why this preference idea, yes we will get dividends but without any control.

    The reason for this is very simple. If the government gains control of a bank, that bank is no longer be allowed to compete under competition laws, a la Northern Rock. The business is therefore no longer viable and all that happens is the government has taken on responsibility of winding everything up, which is expensive and doesn't give any return. The idea behind the current plans is to help the banks survive the short term and become profitable businesses again.

  • Comment number 100.

    look everyone.

    the government may buy a stake in a few banks so what?

    are interest rates at 15%?

    is inflation 1000000%?

    is unemployment at 3m?

    last time i checked it wasn't.

    my advice...

    stop stressing and get on with your lives

    if you have shares or want shares, ears up you may make some serious dough if you make good decisions

    if you are a cash saver, don't worry your pretty little heads.

    if you have a mortgage, keep paying.

    everyone ensure your cvs are upto date just in case.

    keep smiling.


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