Cleared for sell-off take-off
Boris Johnson is advising against "machine-gunning the bankers", and it seems that other instruments of splurged revenge are being eschewed by the Independent Commission on Banking.
Its interim recommendations, out today, prefer a form of slow tortured revenge, by increasing capital buffers and the banks' costs. The report has come down against the big break-up pushed by, among others, Vince Cable, when campaigning for the Lib Dems last year.
Now, the business secretary may have to make do with substantially bigger capital buffers and "subsidiarisation" - the hideous word that describes the creation of subsidiaries within a banking group in order to create firewalls between them.
In the part of the report tackling the lack of competition in British retail banking, Lloyds Banking Group is targeted for more of a sell-off than the 600 branches already being marketed as a European Commission condition for its bailout.
Sir John Vickers has not put a number on the "substantial enhancement" to that process. But one of the most immediate challenges of this interim report is whether the sale of 600 branches should be stopped, pending the requirement of a bigger sale.
And given that Royal Bank of Scotland already complied with European Commission conditions by selling more than 300 branches to Santander, there's now pressure on Lloyds Banking Group that it sells outside the Big Five high street banks, to enhance competition.
The RBS/Santander deal is now widely recognised as a missed opportunity for that, and as Lloyds has been slow to get moving on its sale, it could now find tougher conditions placed on selling to a smaller competitor.
Which bits of Lloyds Banking Group could be sold to increase competition? One relatively easy bit to split off could be Bank of Scotland, as it has retreated north of the border as the group's Scottish retail brand.
But as it's already selling off Lloyds TSB Scotland as part of the European Commission's requirements, there's not much logic in flogging both, as that would depress the price of both.
Sir John Vickers commission had a look at trying to undo the RBS sale to Santander, and stopping the complex process of disentangling branches, accounts and information technology, partly to see if it could also be enhanced. But it's judged that too costly and disruptive, and that RBS's market share is not as worryingly large as Lloyds Banking Group, so there's less need to act.
That is clearly good news for RBS, which had seen the Vickers commission as one of the biggest clouds on its horizon.
And if the interim recommendations turn to firmer ones with the final report in September, it means minds can turn to the next big issue for RBS and the bail-out process - the big sell-off.
Share prices still leave the UK government and taxpayer making a paper loss. But if we can assume that economic recovery should help the bank's recovery, the question is when and how its stakes in RBS and Lloyds are to be sold off.
A big break-up of the banks would have reduced the market valuation of those shares, meaning there has been, and remains, a conflict of interest for the British public between maximising shareholder value on one hand and, on the other, the appeal of reducing risk to the government while increasing competition for customers.
Without a break-up of the banks, they may still lose profitability from increased capital buffers proposed by Vickers.
But it seems the biggest obstacle on the road to a big government sell-off has just been cleared.
And where the consequences of such major reform can be hard to predict, here's a thought about the split into distinct subsidiaries: if the divisions of the banks are to have their own capital bases, and to have firewalls required between them, doesn't that make them easier for future bosses to break up, rather than the regulators?
It has to be one of the possibilities for Lloyds and RBS that their eventual exit from government ownership and return to the market will leave them vulnerable to break up by new owners, just as RBS tore apart its Dutch purchase, ABN Amro, four years ago.