Brown's cautious bank reforms
"They are the servants now".
That's the nub of Gordon Brown's vision for our banks, as outlined in an article he's written for the Observer newspaper.
Which in a sense is a statement of the obvious, since almost no British bank would be alive today if it weren't for the support of British taxpayers in the form of loans, guarantees and investment from us.
But what's striking is that although he has extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented power over the banks, the prime minister's programme of change for the banking system is strikingly conservative (small "c").
And much of what he's suggesting will be seen as closing a stable door that was left wide open during his many years as chancellor.
Even his eye-catching reflection that perhaps "we should control new mortgages for more than 100 per cent of house value" isn't a formal pledge to outlaw those homeloans that have been shown to be particularly risky by the losses experienced on them by Northern Rock.
What's perhaps more significant is that the prime minister explicitly rules out a formal separation of retail deposit-taking and investment banking.
Under this prime minister, banks that look after the savings of households and businesses will not be banned from engaging in speculative trading in securities, even though such trading and investment has caused so much of the losses that have hobbled the banking system.
He is saying no to a British version of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, or the kind of sweeping reconstruction of the banking system that was prompted by America's Great Depression (arguably, an important contributor to our current woes was the abolition in 1999 of the prohibition on US commercial banks engaging in investment banking - which allowed the creation of the modern, horrifically loss-making Citigroup).
This is how Brown puts it: "We do not envisage, as some have advocated, a rigid divide in future between 'narrow banking' - retail and corporate deposit taking - and investment banking and trading conducted at an international level".
Much flows from this, including that we as taxpayers will continue to provide a guarantee to banks, even those engaged in what many would see as high-risk international speculation, that we won't let them collapse..
Why is the prime minister keen to maintain this pact between taxpayers and institutions that underwrite and sell equities and loans transformed into tradable securities? Well he remains persuaded that "global financial flows and liquid capital markets have brought massive benefits to our economy".
So Brown is keeping the faith with financial globalisation: "there is no room for parochialism or protectionism in our model of the future", he says.
But note that he says global banking can only be made safe if there is effective global regulation, not "a patchwork of national regulators."
So it's worth pointing out that there is a bit of a rupture here between the traditional notion that where taxpayers' money is at stake, decisions should be taken by national governments (that there should be no taxation without representation).
Or to put it another way, the sanitisation of financial globalisation explicitly requires us to be happy as taxpayers to underwrite global banks that call themselves British, even though we as taxpayers would have only modest influence on the rules constraining the behaviour of those British global banks.