How Lloyds' customers profited from its mis-selling
There is a paradox in the humiliation of Lloyds today for what the Financial Conduct Authority calls "serious sales incentives failings" and the record £28m fine imposed on the UK's largest retail bank.
Which is that although Lloyds behaved in a way regarded by the regulator as thoroughly reprehensible, by providing inappropriate financial motivation to its sales staff to sell unsuitable products to customers, those customers generally aren't out of pocket.
On the whole, they were flogged share ISAs and equity-linked structured products, or financial products whose value depends on the performance of the stock market. And since the stock market has risen since these sales were made, between 1 January 2010 and 31 March 2012, very few of these customers are out of pocket.
Many of them have done a lot better than would have been the case if they kept their cash in a savings account.
Or to put it another way, what was sold by Lloyds for the wrong reasons turns out to not to have been a customer rip-off.
Is prudential tinkering our salvation?
We live in a developed western world where the heuristics of economics, the normal policy responses learned through past experience, seem irrelevant.
As just two examples, neither the US or UK economies have bounced back in the way history has suggested they should have done since the financial crash and shock of 2007-8. In the UK for example, GDP (national income) is a fifth lower than it would have been, had the pre-crisis trends resumed.
Food prices in an independent Scotland
It is a statement of the bloomin' obvious that businesses behave differently in different countries.
It is equally obvious that if Scotland becomes a separate nation, businesses that straddle the borders of Scotland and the rest of the UK will - over time - assess questions such as where they invest and how they price on the basis of national conditions.
Britain's curious consumer-led recovery
On the Office for Budget Responsibility's analysis of what's going on in the British economy, there is a bit of a mystery about why the recovery is happening now, as opposed to last year or next year or some other time.
What I mean by that is that the recovery has been driven, on the OBR's analysis, by households spending a good deal more than it and other economists anticipated.
Chancellor’s return to 1948
There are a number of striking assertions by the Office of Budget Responsibility, whose forecasts underpinned the chancellor's Autumn Statement.
One is that by 2018-19, when the OBR expects the budget to be in surplus, as a result of a projected fall in the annual deficit by a remarkable 11.1% of GDP, government's "consumption of goods and services - a rough proxy for day-to-day spending on public services and administration - will shrink to its smallest share of national income at least since 1948, when comparable National Accounts data are first available".
Treasury argues for tax cuts
Last night the Treasury published a two-page summary of new analysis it has carried out on the "dynamic" effects of cutting taxes.
What it shows, says the Treasury, is that the cuts the chancellor has made, and is still making, to the rate of corporation tax will, over 20 years: