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Will UK rescue banks too?

Robert Peston | 18:05 UK time, Friday, 19 September 2008

It's a bit early for definitive judgements about Hank Paulson's plan to rescue Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley - sorry I meant the US economy - because today's statement from the US Treasury Secretary is short on detail and elaborates very little on what I published in my note early this morning.

Which is a bit uncharacteristic of this former banker who learned his trade at meticulous Goldman Sachs (that name again) and ended up as chairman of the bulgiest bulge bracket firm.

For us here in the UK the big question is whether what Paulson's proposing makes it more or less likely that our Government will have to launch a similar rescue scheme for our banks.

As of this moment, the thinking in Government is that Paulson's bail out should improve confidence throughout the global banking system, and thus reduce the likelihood that British taxpayers' money will have to be deployed on buying out stinky assets from British banks, or guaranteeing mortgage-backed bonds issued by them, or the other ways in which our banking system could be partly nationalised.

But ministers are taking nothing for granted. The Treasury is working on a contingency bail-out plan, just in case.

Because there is a risk that if Paulson succeeds in shoring up confidence in US banks, the doomsayers could turn their poisonous speculative attention on the economy perceived to be the next most vulnerable - in the way that the investment bank Lehman Bros became the target after Bear Stearns had to be rescued from collapse.

In that sense, the UK would be Lehman, in that the weakness of our housing market looks rather too much like the weakness of the US housing market - or at least it does in the eyes of the money managers who sit in air-conditioned offices all over the world and decide which banks receive their trillions of loose cash.

And if they withdrew more of their cash from the UK banking system than they did during the wholesale run on Northern Rock last autumn, well let's hope it doesn't come to that.

So what more is there to say about the Paulson plan?

Well it is extraordinary how beneficial for Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs the rescue package has turned out to be - especially the provision of insurance for investments at money market mutual funds, which should stem the withdrawals of cash from these funds, and reduces the risk that these funds will cease financing the last two bulge bracket firms left standing.

Or at least it helps Goldman and Morgan Stanley in the short term. Though as I implied earlier today, their originate-to-distribute business models - which helped to pump up the credit bubble that has been pricked with such devastating consequences - doesn't look so gleaming right now.

And their once-ginormous profits from servicing private equity and hedge funds, and also managing their own private-equity and hedge money, is likely to wither to something not so pretty: there's a strong likelihood that the hedge-fund and private-equity industries will be crushed under the combined weight of new legislation and the losses that some funds are incurring.

Perhaps Goldman and Morgan Stanley will become smaller simpler firms, suffering from fewer conflicts of interests, acting a bit less hubristically.

Which, you might say, wouldn't be such a bad thing.


  • Comment number 1.

    The new Fed rescue plan proposal - a few days earlier - would have saved a lot of trauma to millions in the world and allowed a gradual controlled unwinding. And the Lehman chaps on the street would still have their jobs - maybe trimmed down to newly regulated and acceptable practices.

  • Comment number 2.

    i think you are being too cynical. i don't think this bailout was simply designed to save goldman and ms. paulson undoubtedly has some sympathy for his old firm, but the real reason for this bailout is obviously much bigger than these two firms.

    one thing i wish the bbc would stop misreporting: this bailout is not going to cost us tax payers hundreds of billions of dollars. the us treasury will indeed borrow that much to buy impaired assets from the banks. but although these assets are impaired, they still have real value, and the cost to the tax-payer will be the difference between the price paid to the banks and the workout value of these bad loans that the us government is able to realise.

  • Comment number 3.


    Are you saying that there is another HBOS or NR just around the corner or that the whole banking system is vulnerable?

  • Comment number 4.

    Perhaps, if the American version of "capitalism" means that huge losses are "socialised", it's about time the huge profits were also "socialised" — permanently.

  • Comment number 5.

    The effect of stopping short selling is that when the price eventually drops, there will be noone there to close out their short position and make the price rally.

    For now the prices of financials can only go up - the making of yet another bubble!

    This idea of sending all the toxic debt to the naughty corner and hoping it will magically disappear is just plain barmy. How much will they pay for it, and who will they sell it to? Might as well just nationalise all the banks.

    I really never believed that the market could be so dumb as to buy this nonsense. I was wrong. Why has not one economist come on to say this?

  • Comment number 6.

    Robert, surely the Fed isn't going to actually raise taxes to pay for this lot and if they monetise all that debt won't the dollar be worthless?

  • Comment number 7.

    one thing to put a smile on all your faces - i doubt very much any city bankers will get paid a bonus this year. expect london property prices to slump in the spring..

  • Comment number 8.

    This is no more than showmanship.

    Huge falls in shares have been replaced, for a short time, with a huge rise.

    This is doing nothing to resolve the issues at all, merely shifting the bad debt around and delaying the recession..oops... sorry "adjustment".

    Boom and bust cycles.. end up with bust eventually.

  • Comment number 9.

    I assume that now we the tax payers are bailing out the banks the Government, on our behalf, will put an immediate brake on the over inflated salaries and bonuses paid to financial sector staff as it's clear that they haven't created any real added value just smoke and mirrors asset creation.

  • Comment number 10.

    Of course the UK banks will have to be rescued. If they are not rescued then the same conditions will prevail which encourage them to eat each other (and the rest of us).
    They will effectively be bought off and regulated so they do not carry on with their feeding frenzy.
    We of course will pay.
    It is our lot in life.
    Get used to it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Robert Peston should be careful with his use of 'hubristically'; let's not forget the role played by the broadcast media in all of this. Doom-laden prognostications and, heaven help us, even more speculation by its resident 'experts' can only have fuelled the panic. He would also do well to remember that the financial institutions that are the butt of his snide comments contain real people with real families and real concerns about their welfare. And let's not forget that we were all happy to party while the bandwagon was rolling; we shouldn't whine now that the wheels appear to be coming loose.

  • Comment number 12.


    You are right that the UK might become the next most obvious target, but an over-inflated housing market is by no means the only reason for this. There is a far more general, systemic economic weakness which includes the following:

    1. The UK has understated inflation (and consequently overstated GDP growth) for years, telling the public that we're getting richer when the public knows all too well that we aren't

    2. We've allowed our trade balance to become dependent on the financial services sector which is now being battered, and will leave a huge hole in our trade and fiscal balances

    3. Our utilities are foreign-owned

    4. We do not export very much in terms of physical goods

    5. We've depleted our oil and gas reserves, and are now importers of both

    6. We've no idea how to replace our power stations before the lights go out

    7. Our public sector finances are shot

    8. We have a cripplingly expensive bureaucracy and public sector

    9. Our economy depends on consumer debt hitherto 'secured' against artificially-inflated house prices which are now crashing back to earth

    10. Our government has up to now been run by idiots

    11. We've been rumbled by the forex markets (just take a look at the trade-weighted Sterling index over the last year)

    But your central point - that the UK could be the next target - looks all too true.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry but Im cynical and ignorant thus my following two questions?

    Are they perhaps trying to turn this financial cock up into a political issue by forcing the Congress to give their go ahead?

    Are not perhaps they financial players expecting this money to eat it up like hungry dogs and go bust as soon as it is over?

    I cant stop thinking of that famous book –The Art of War– that everyone of those bank related people probably have in their shelves somewhere. In it Sun Tzu suggested that when war is inevitable it is futile to try to stop it. Thinking about it these bailouts are sorta "financial appeasements" innit?

    Looking forward some reply to take me out of my cynical me! cheers!

  • Comment number 14.

    The markets are like a drowning man grasping at a straw.

    Why should the profits be privatised and the losses nationalised - can anyone answer this question?

    Why should the poor have to save the rich from their follies?

    Several things must happen and are a prerequisite to recovery:

    First: Balance sheets of companies must be believed again - importantly all off balance sheet items MUST appear on the balance sheet (this include PPP/PFI - HMG Note.) This is the responsibility of the professional institutes of accountants.

    Second: Money must move to settle transactions in goods - bring back exchange control if necessary. Without doing this the rabid and irrational flows of hot money will destroy all recoveries.

    Third: The credit ratings agencies need fixing and if that is not possible then closing.

    Any a extraction of the toxic debt from the system may be required - a la Poulson.

  • Comment number 15.

    Middle classes of the world united... I dont mean ManU though!

    What would happen if a new revolution started tomorrow? The revolution of the mortgage holders all coming together to refuse to pay any longer?

  • Comment number 16.

    I put an earlier version of this comment on the last blog but it's relevant here as well.

    I don't really understand the offer of a guarantee to money market funds.
    1. What is the problem? If investors withdraw money from them, where does it go? It comes as a credit to their bank account. And then what do they do with it? If they buy treasury bills, but then what does the treasury bill seller do with the cash? Somewhere it gets left on deposit with a bank.
    2. Aren't money market funds part of the problem? Banks have both retail deposits (good) and wholesale deposits (bad - ask HBOS). And wholesale deposits concentrated in money market fund managers are even more volatile than when held by individual institutions and companies. People advocate that banks should only make loans out of retail deposits, but that would mean this element of savings balances could be recycled only into short term investments, which is not much good for those borrowers (whether mortgage holders or industrial companies) who need to make long term investments.
    3. Isn't the promise of returns (above those on bank deposits (Libor)) that these funds make part of the problem? This drove the appetite for high yielding short term paper. Now fear and herd behaviour leads to all the funds being held at very short notice (overnight or up to one week): even very high OID/3 month Libor spreads can't overcome the liquidity preference. [Central banks' (the ECB AND BoE) fear of inflation is such that they don't recognise the overwhelming desire for liquidity. Short term rates need to be cut while this continues, to incentivise investors away from overnight money. But that's another issue]
    4. The offer of a treasury guarantee will presumably be conditional on the money market funds agreeing investment criteria. So the US government will end up choosing which investments it is willing to underwrite. Is this merely the extension of deposit insurance to all such investments? Will investment banks short term paper be on the list? What else?

  • Comment number 17.

    We are entering the deepest realms of toothfairy economics,where the illusion of personal wealth is sustained ,by pretending that the public debt that sustains it , will be picked up by the yet to be born future abstraction called a taxpayer , who is also stupid enough to hang around schopping block for a free crunch .

    As long as the monetary authorities [in colusion] can make currencies go down together in value[a dead cert ] ,then ralatively speaking everything else will appear to go up up and away ,like the bare stern of the titanic

    The decision for investors ,is what to do if and when the titanic [stocks and shares ]colides with the good ship lolly "pop" [public debt ]

  • Comment number 18.

    The only politician who seems to understand the markets is Vince Cable, who was formerly an accountant with Shell.

    If we end up with a full-blown financial crisis I would like to suggest that Vince becomes an emergency Chancellor of The Exchequer, rather like the way Churchill stepped in.

    I know it seems unthinkable now, but I am wondering if not the Lib Dems might get into power before too long now, after Labour end up with the least seats after the election.

    It was great watching Hislop give it to Harman last night on Question Time too!

  • Comment number 19.

    Paulson has failed the test! Let's all cheer
    as we are taken to the cleaners.

  • Comment number 20.

    This sort of rescue is outrageous.

    Socialising losses while the fat cats creamed the profits earlier on what turned out to be toxic deals.

    All the government had to go to inject equity was take stakes in the banks affected if the banks needed to be carried through.....with new issued equity.

    And this could have been done only after shareholders refused to put up the money.

    Shareholders would have the incentive not to be diluted.

    And failing that, the government would be effectively investing money.

    I am just so thankful I am not a US taxpayer or I would be livid.

    Even if some sort of rescue is needed elsewhere, surely not on this morally bankrupt model.

  • Comment number 21.

    What no British or US mainstream politician is mentioning is that the financial speculators and hedge funds have also played a crucial role in driving up basic commodity prices, including food items, that has resulted, according to the United Nations World Food Programme “in plunging more than 100 million people on every continent into hunger. This is the new face of hunger – the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are”. (WFP 22nd April 2008).

    This occurred when, because of the approaching turmoil, the speculators moved out of the property, credit and debt markets and into food and raw materials, without a second thought for the catastrophic outcome this would mean for millions of the world’s poor.

    Yet it is not these millions who the US and UK governments are now rushing to help; on the contrary, like the loyal servants of capitalism that they are, they are hurrying to assist the very financial institutions responsible for this increasing poverty and hunger.

  • Comment number 22.

    It seems simple enough to me. The Bush administration doesn't need to care if this plan will actually work. Their place in the history books (and on big-paying corporate books) depends on things working until the next President is sworn in. Anything after that is strictly somebody else's problem. Americans are very quick to blame whoever is in power at the time disaster strikes, whether or not that is when the disaster actually started to happen.

    Some American taxpayers will be paying for this, even if the assets bought are later sold at some value, because neither American party is prepared to give more money than they have to to their opponents' supporters and financial backers. This is why the Republicans barely tolerated giving $600 to the poor this year, and happily gave a huge taxcut to the mega-rich at the start of the administration. Somebody will be expected to pay the final bill, but you can be certain that whoever it is, it won't be Wall Street.

    Should Britain follow suit? Well, on the one hand, I have to say politicians and quangos would be hard-pressed to match the current foul-up. It might be better, though, if the Monster Raving Looneys were appointed to take charge of handling it. They might be more credible.

    On the other hand, Britain has bailed out naive and stupid speculation in the past. The Exchange Rate Mechanism cost Britain a small fortune. The speculators and gamblers in British banking clearly never learned from that, BCCI, or any of the other fiascos.

    Certainly, the economy might tank if nothing is done, but the only cars made in Britain are Japanese and run on imported fuel, the film industry is dead, and that's not an ICL or Sinclair computer sitting on your desk, nor does it use an Inmos processor. Besides the BBC and any international firm that can largely ignore national issues, can anyone actually name a firm so British it has to worry, never mind depend on it utterly?

    If your car keeps breaking down and you've the means to replace it, you do so. It's cheaper in the long-run and presents fewer headaches. Well, the economic vehicle has been in more wrecks than any car, has blatantly failed its MOT, and its warranty expired 300 years ago. Would it not be saner to spend the time between now and complete collapse to go shopping for something with better handling, a reliable engine and working shock absorbers?

  • Comment number 23.

    This looks more and more like a case of special pleading under the cover of doomsday scenarios. Goldman Scahs and Morgan Stanley have been really 'lucky' in this. Take GS the Wall Street Journal speculates that they allegedly held junior debt in Freddie and Fanny. A purely speculative punt. The sums in the scheme of this crisis were not large, at about $11bn. But of course would dent a balance sheet. To what extent do you think the Fed has compensated the holders of this junior debt? Not at all? Wrong. They got 100 cents in the dollar. Amazing if correct. I suppose it helps to have friends or ex-colleagues in high places.

    Let us hope Brown and Darling at not so naive. But I am not betting on it....

  • Comment number 24.

    Since the banks to be helped are not being nationalised, in the manner of Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae or Northern Rock, for their non-performing mortgage assets to be taken by the US Government a price will have to be paid to the banks concerned. If the price is anything like as high as their face value, this will mean that the US taxpayer is making vast gifts to imprudent institutions. This would likely be politically impossible, even were it not an election year. If the price is anything like as low as their true written-down values, the difference from the current values ascribed to them in the banks’ balance sheets will be reflected in a steep drop in the banks’ capital reserves. In the latter event, investors once again will flee bank shares, with all that will entail.

  • Comment number 25.

    two observations on the uk's susceptibility to a speculator attack:

    (1) our economy is much more sensitive to the financial services sector than the us. in my opinion, this means we will suffer disproportionately badly if general sentiment turns negative again. but while sentiment holds up i think we are safe.

    (2) if the uk is specifically attacked, the us authorities have already led the way in providing a solution. part of that us solution is to weaken the currency. weakening sterling would work very well for the uk as our economy is much more sensitive to trade than the us. on the other hand, if the market loses faith in paulson's plan, then i think the uk is totally screwed.

    at the risk of speaking way too soon, i reckon that market sentiment will settle down now. the us stockmarkets have seen the worst, but the dollar will suffer a lot over the coming weeks. in contrast i think some emerging markets, notably brazil and china, are in for big "adjustments" in the next few weeks or months. they are very exposed to a simultaneous slowdown in the us and europe.

    imipak @ 22, i refuse to read any post that begins with the words "It seems simple enough to me." quite evidently it is not simple for anyone, least of all for the policymakers. i wish some people on these blogs would give them a bit more credit. so far i think paulson has done an outstanding job. even nulab has been doing okay playing second fiddle, though like most i don't intend to vote for them.

    and a message to all those misinformed posters that claim this is somehow intended to bail out rich bankers at the expense of the common man. what is being done now is intended to avert a catastrophe in which the biggest losers will be anyone with savings or a pension fund, and anyone struggling to pay their mortgage. the authorities will have time aplenty to deal with the bankers once the current crisis has been fully dealt with.

  • Comment number 26.

    Something strange here: we keep being told that the problem is that nobody actually knows what are toxic investments and what aren't. But now we're told the Fed will take all the toxic investments and leave the banks with the good stuff. If it's clear which investments are toxic, then it should be clear which banks are solvent and which aren't.

    This seems to me to be just another way to pump capital into the banks so they can go on lending. In other words, a great way to pump the asset bubble up a bit more. America can't go on for ever with negative savings ratios. Americans (and Brits but to a lesser extent) actually need to start borrowing less and saving more. This wonderful Fed plan will actually make things worse in the long run. As the Lady said, "You can't buck the market".

  • Comment number 27.

    As far as domestic mortgages are concerned, a sensible option in the UK may be possible which would not work in the States because there is no tradition of large scale social housing. Instead of bailing the lenders out, bail out the borrowers. The government could initiate a sale and leaseback programme for borrowers with repayment or repossession issues. Taxpayers money would then be secured against bricks and mortar which at a later stage in the cycle will begin to recover their value. The right to buy could remain in place so that, if householders' circumstances improve, they can buy back the property at a market price. Housing benefit on rentals is more generous than mortgage interest benefit so there would be a marked fall in the rate of repossessions while the socially owned housing stock would increase as a proportion of all housing and consequently appreciate in value.

  • Comment number 28.

    Using fresh debt to solve old debt based on letters of credit, loans, loan bonds.....and relying on bubbles to inflate these toxic debts till they are at market value???? Who decides on pricing on something thats a derivative!!

    Didn't Lehmans held out on a sell over its 'over priced' assets....preciptating in its downfall. Pricing derivative trades as opposed to commodities is a tall story. As it was with the dotcom boom when companies were valued and made not a single pence before they became worthless
    in 2000.

    If the Fed Res' thinks they can rely on the same slide rule that lead to the falls in market values to now do a reversal then it is lacking in due diligents and sound judgement.

    Americanisation of Capitalisation has has made wall street's finest
    look like some fly by night cowboy. China will soon own a piece of MStandley
    ....the second most respected Investment Bank

  • Comment number 29.

    What keeps niggling me is what happens when the big American Corporations finally go belly up? The U.S. car industry is stony broke General Motors say they have lost over 60 billoin $ in the last 18 months 15 billion in the last quater alone and yet claim that they will be bake in profit in 2010 - do not believe it..

    What about the 30 States that cannot pay thier bills, including Calafornia?

    Perhaps the United States could sell Alaska back to Russia. That would pay of a bit of the debt. Debt, debt and more det at every level of British and American society is the real problen, not a shortage of credit as far as the general economies are concered.

    Surely this is first and formost the result of the relative decline of the wealth producing parts of the economy, commerce and industry, agriculture and mining.

  • Comment number 30.

    #13 findegorgorito

    try this cure for cynicism

  • Comment number 31.

    So what about all the derivatives then ?
    Is that one just being tucked under the carpet ?

    I suppose it's better than giving the buyers of all those $62 trillion Credit Default Swaps free gifts when companies go bust or a currency collapses etc.

    See this from mid-July:

    Funny.... many of those CDS holders really have a very positive interest in such cataclysmic outcomes, so long as the whole system isn't wiped out before the CDS they've bought pays out... which almost explains why the idiotic providers underwrote such an amount of the stuff.

    Of course, this couldn't happen before the US election but an alternative would have been to let the whole thing go, clean out the hedge funds and then re-capitalise the banks.

  • Comment number 32.

    It seems to me that something happened to the major banks quietly over the last ten years or so… they stopped playing their usual card game (bridge) with our money and started playing three-card-brag where everyone (initially) is betting “blind”.

    Problem is someone looked at their cards, and then someone else… and then they stacked, showing their hands to others.

    Those in the know did not look but “held” or “sold on” their blind hands to others based on the fact that they must have better hands than those already out of the game.

    Three-card-brag is a pure gambling game based on how much money you have, how well you know the individuals you are playing against and how canny you are, nothing else.

    Having the best hand does not guarantee success here, nor does having the most money at the start of the game.

    Banks should revert to the game of bridge with it set rules and methods and not pursue a path that will ultimately lead – no matter what happens - to their demise. They have no expertise in the field of pure gambling only risk management which is light years away.

  • Comment number 33.

    The plan is a good idea. At the moment the entire market volatility is driven by rumour and fear. By not intervening this self perpetuating cycle would probably continue bringing more collapses a increasing turmoil. Yes this is risking tax payers money, but the alternative is also, and probaly more so.

    To highlight this point
    If you look at the banks in question, both have remained highly profitable in the most dire economic conditions. In a sane market would you expect a banks share price to drop 45% based on a quartely profits of $1.4 billion? Would you also say the business model is floored given this return ?

    Clearly there has been some massive generalisation, without looking at the facts of which banks are succefull and which are not. Presumably Nationwide's etc business models are also floored due to what happened at Northern Rock?

  • Comment number 34.

    Just don't. That is all I can say. If there is to be any sort of capitalism here that you Brits love so much, then we need to make a change. Bailing out just to have more of the same will lead to total disaster. Just think under which pressure the US is to save itself and its famous dream. It won't bother much about its cousin drowning at shores of Europe.

  • Comment number 35.

    #20: Bravo and worth reading by everyone!

    Mr. Peston, thanks for providing clear, calm explanations of this complex situation. Your explanation of AIG's activities was especially helpful.

    Scared me to pieces, but it was helpful!

    In its wake, I called my Senators. Lamar Alexander's receptionist already had her list of talking points about why the Lehman deal was good for us. She was made of Teflon.

    Bob Corker's person was much different--sweetly let me vent, understanding I wasn't trying to take it out on her personally. I mentioned a local scoundrel of the 1980's, Jake Butcher, who ended up in the Federal pen for defrauding the investors and depositors of a bank he ran, to the tune of some millions, which is a lot of money.

    Bless her, she laughed when I told her that Jake is owed an apology at least, and more appropriately a pardon, dinner party and a gold watch, if we bail out these bad actors on Wall Street.

    I hope someday I can open a business where I can mismanage other people's money, defraud my depositors, lie to the government, skim off millions(billions!) for myself, and have the American taxpayer clean up the mess for me!

    Poor Jake, his downfall was that he wasn't audacious enough.

  • Comment number 36.

    No. We should not follow the US.

    The US economy is an overgrown fat remnant of Capitalism in a Post-Capitalist world.

    During the 1980's Margaret Thatcher lead this country from the cold war capitalist/socialist struggle to lay down solid building blocks and create a nation where more people could own their own homes; unprofitable businesses and public sector organisations were closed or change to be fit for purpose and the majority of the country felt that she was leading in the right direction. This was not traditional Capitalism, it was what now has become know as Thatcherism. Things weren't perfect and many around her became heady with their own success. But this was a nation that encouraged everyone to be entrepreneurs and created the prosperity that we have been squandering since. I don't believe it was an easy decision for Lady Margaret to close the mines or make other policies law that she new would hurt. I'm sure that she was doing it in the way a mother would discipline a child. It was an act of tough love so that we would be able to move forward from where we were to become world leaders once more.

    Although Gordon Brown constantly talks about how he has to make tough decisions I think the toughest decision he makes every morning is "do I look serious today or do I wear that stupid grin?"
    Gordon proudly stood so many times in the House of Commons with that stupid grin stating that there have been so many quarters of growth and patted himself on the back giving himself full credit.

    Well now times have changed Gordon. You have failed. You lied to us telling we were all going to be better off. But this was because the price of our houses were going to be rising at 10%-50%. You let us take out loans and credit card debt on the strength of your unsound policies.

    George Bush has slammed the stable door after the mare has bolted and is now mesmerising everyone to believe in his new foal. Well we can take a look on Monday and see how it is. I doubt that it will have the stamina to carry the load long term. He has effectively devalued the dollar. That didn't get Wilson anywhere in the 1960's and I don't think it is the only solution now. Although this may be a necessary evil in the long run. And yes George it has happened before. With your "unprecedented measures" you are just running on from a old fashioned UK Labour party policy of intervention.

    No, we shouldn't blindly follow the Americans with their interventionist financial policies. This is a key time in our history and Gordon Brown and the Labour Party have no mandate in the country. We did not choose him to be our leader although by not turning out to vote or voting for Tony Blair their may be some who are guilty of inflicting him on us.

    We should be leading the world though this period. We should be inspiring people to live better lives, be more family centric, to treasure our planet. We should be moving the accent from just work and financial well being to true quality of life. We should be discussing how we are going to control the explosion of the human population on earth while we still can. And to do this we need someone who understands, doesn't keep telling us what tough decisions he's taking on our part and gets on with the job of doing it!

  • Comment number 37.

    Everyone during this credit crunch has been describing the failure of and the failure to regulate market fundamentals.

    Seems nothing has changed with Paulson's plan.

    The fundamental problem was a poorly regulated rapid expansion of the money supply.

    It seems to me the proposed solution to this crisis is yet another round of money supply expansion.

    In what way is this going to resolve the problem ? Defer it maybe. Exasserbate it definately, but cure it ... impossible.

    Perhaps putting the toxic debts into a naughty corner whilst inflating our economy to devalue them is the real motive?

  • Comment number 38.

    A great deal has been written about the reason for the present banking problems.

    I think it is very simple

    Banks and Building societies used to rely largely on a large number of retail depositors money(I include individuals and business in this category) whose money they used to lend to borrowers.

    Then along came cheap wholesale money from a few lenders, from Japan I think.

    The banks borrowed this and made a much bigger turn on it and as a result paid less interest to their many retail depositors.

    The retail depositors saw no reason to save as the rate of interest did not even cover the cost of inflation after tax.

    Thus the banks became more reliant on a few wholesale lenders rather than lots of retail ones, whom they had encouraged to spend rather than save.

    The wholesale lenders took fright when everything got too scary and took their money back.

    The retail depositors had spent all their money, as it was not profitable to save it.

    The regulators must ensure that bank deposits include a large proportion of retail money, wholesale money is not as secure because it walks in large volumes very easily.

    Northern Rock and HSBC would not have happened if they had relied on retail money rather than wholesale money

    Interest rates to depositors must rise significantly to make it worth while saving again.

    There is safety in numbers and things can be repaired quickly if a large number of relativly small players can be persuaded to start saving again.

    It just goes to show that local is best

  • Comment number 39.

    Robert - Some observations:

    1. In the real UK economy - with a few notable exceptions, life continues as normal.
    2. Compare and contrast the lightning speed of events this last week with the 12 years it took for the Japanese banking crisis to unwind. We may not be at the bottom of this one yet - but, the turning point won't be long coming. The quicker we reach the turning point the less damage that will occur to the wider economy.
    3. Commodity prices are falling like a stone - within a few months this will start to have a large stabilising effect.
    4. Compare and contrast the magnitude of events in London with what has happened in Wall Street. So far London has got off pretty lightly in comparison. My bet is that once the dust has settled, the relative positions of London and Wall Street will have undergone a step change in London's favour.
    5. I think that Wall Street and the USA will have some painful adjustments to make over the next few years - I think the World order has changed significantly in ways that will not be to the Americans liking.
    6. There is no reason why London and the UK should not adapt to, and benefit from these changes.
    7. I think the balance of probability is that, for the UK, the bottom has been reached and that what follows is the long haul back.
    8. If I am correct, the banking crisis will rapidly disappear from the front pages.

  • Comment number 40.

    The underlying problems have not gone away and I expect the indicies to turn over sometime soon. Banning short selling was a smoke screen designed to direct the publics anger to outer edges of the underlying problem. Only 3% of HBOS's shares were on loan at the time of it's takeover by LloydsTSB, whilst the heaviest shorted bank in the UK ( Barclays, over 5 % of shares being shorted) bought Lehman Bros.......primary school students can work out the maths on that. Short selling has nothing to do with this crisis.

  • Comment number 41.

    Good article R. Peston.
    We have'nt had our storm of reposessions yet, but it's coming.
    The wreckage of young families lives.....blacklisted for life by bankers.
    I wonder who'll go round buying them all up at bargain-basement prices.....bankers, of course.

  • Comment number 42.

    #18 – wykhamist. I might have gone with you on Vince Cable, he normally has interesting and reasoned stuff to say. Right up until on Tuesday he was blaming it all on short selling as well. Actually the most interesting politician (if that's not an oxymoron) I've heard so far on this debacle was Kenneth Clarke on the Today programme this morning. Between around 8.10 and 8.20, talking to Humphries. Well worth a 'play again' via their website, particularly on what roll short sellers played i.e. not a lot.

    On the substantive question, if the US do a Paulson, then the UK will have to do it as well; we can't be having asymmetry in the banking world or else the speculators *will* have a go. Interesting to see whether European Bank does the same. And so on..

    Apart from the fact that we're still in the mire, this bit of Dickens would seem an apt description of the events of last year or so:

    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

  • Comment number 43.

    Is it just me ?

    It looks to me like capitalsim has failed,, just as communism did.

    Well I never!

    They will pump new cash in (create it from fresh air, to cunsume the old debts and inflate it all away) They have NO CHOICE! The reason they do this is to keep the rich in their lofty positions and the rest of us down. We are all 3 square meals away from a revolution - Generally during revolutions the rich get hanged or beheaded ;-)

  • Comment number 44.

    Mr Peston, do you believe that The City has just become a giant PARASITE?
    Greedy, self interested. No longer interested in the public or industry.
    It has lost its way, wallowing in a trough of greed.
    Engine of the economy? A good thing?
    No, just a parasite.

  • Comment number 45.

    Thanks Stigmondo. Actually that's disappointing that Cable is harping on too much about short-sellers. While they certainly haven't helped, it's pathetic that governments should try to blame them for their own lack of foresight.

    I also think Ken Clarke has a great perspective on all of this and will watch that clip.

    Good quote from A Tale of Two Cities there. I am also reminded of Mr Merdle in 'Little Dorrit', who epitomises a greedy banker. Merdle steals everyone's money then commits suicide.

    'The inquest was over, the letter was public, the Bank was broken, the other model structures of straw had taken fire and were turned to smoke. The admired piratical ship had blown up, in the midst of a vast fleet of ships of all rates, and boats of all sizes; and on the deep was nothing but ruin: nothing but burning hulls, bunting magazines, great guns self-exploded tearing friends and neighbours to pieces, drowning men clinging to unseaworthy spars and going down every minute, spent swimmers, floating dead, and sharks'

  • Comment number 46.

    Wow. I think it's a great idea and I want some too.

    I run a £50m manufacturing company which have thrived in an environment of long-lasting price deflation, wage inflation and nopw energy inflation. We did this with bold investment and ingenuity.

    Now I realise what a dope I am. Why didn't I just puff the thing up on phantom profits and put my hand out when it all went wrong citing "industry confidence" as the need.

    I know it would be carnage for a time, but there should be a bloodletting in the financial world. Let them, go to the wall - from the wreckage other solutions will arise and lessons remembered.

    What lesson is really being learned now? How about no matter how bad they screw it up the government will bail them out.

    Fast forward to a new era of good times and the call to deregulate the regulations now being proposed will come, people will propise they changed and these new regs are stifling the economy and we'll be off again, just like house prices.

    The finance industry is feather bedded compared to the real economy, the one that puts food on your plate.

  • Comment number 47.

    All is not lost. As you can see, yesterday,s share,s went up. But the GREEDY FOE need to be brought into heel. but unfortunitly! their is more % of greed than the statis -quo. it is a shame people are like this. Will they EVER LEARN?. you only reap what you sew. And i 4 one am glad some people had a hole cut in their pocket,s, and running around like headless chicken,s. It gose to show, they can pour bag,s of money from the tax pot! to help out the greedy but not 4 the public secter. dont you think somthing is wrong there!. the whole system stink,s. And who is suffering; IT is the people who work 4 you and put you there!.

  • Comment number 48.

    Just a point on the so called 2.5% of HBOS shares that were supposed to be out on loan.

    Lets just say I know for sure where 1.5% of these short positions were held.

    So are you telling me that the other 1% came from the entire rest of the world economy?

    What's that smell ;-)

  • Comment number 49.

    Sometimes - actually a lot of the time Peston you read as if you are spectacularly uninformed.

    1 The crisis and subsequent rescue plan is MUCH MUCH more than the current state of MS and GS. You really are pandering to the lowest common denominator here "its all about rescuing the greedy investment banks". As we saw with AIG the toxic debt is held by many many US institutions.

    2 You ponder whether the UK will create a similar fund to "rescue" our banks. Which UK institutions then hold a large portfolio of toxic debt exactly? I am unaware of any. The only UK bank with an investment bank attached is Barclays and they have already written down and declared. If you know something we dont about their true position I suggest you short them and try and make some money? Good luck.

  • Comment number 50.

    It's a good article but where I part from Robert Preston is about how this is all hindsight.

    He, and some other commentators, have given me plenty of blood-boiling moments in the last 10 years fawning over Brown when is was obvious what was going on. Puffing the economy by borrowing (personal, corporate and government) at low interest rates and squandering it on foreign goods and non-wealth creating activity.

    Here's a prediction; this is nowhere near over. The next stage will be when we wake up to the fact that we no longer have any substantial fundamental wealth creation going on in Britain; that we have so twisted our idea of GDP that it now includes wealth consumption activities.
    This will be realised when the consequences of our VAST trading deficit with the World hit home; collapsing currency, rampant inflation etc.

    What I'm saying, in shorthand, is that Britain is on its way to going bust. Literally.

    I'd listen to Mr Preston more if he'd put his neck out and predict these sort of problems rather than standing on the sidelines pointing at it and shaking his head.

  • Comment number 51.

    what you have to understand about this "rescue plan" is that it is specifically designed to hold the fort until the elections. the whole mess will then be handed over to Obama and the democrats. If i was Obama i would be praying that McCain wins!

  • Comment number 52.

    #45 - wykhamist. At the risk of this all getting very Dickensian and way off topic, you don't have to go very far to find a brilliantly relevant quote. If he were around today, I fancy RP might be given a run for his money.. (Sorry about that last phrase)

    From Nicholas Nickleby:

    "In that giddy whirl of noise and confusion, the men were delirious. Who thought of money, ruin, or the morrow, in the savage intoxication of the moment?"

    From Martin Chuzzlewit:

    "Why should I disguise what you know so well, but what the crowd never dream of? We companies are all birds of prey; mere birds of prey. The only question is, whether in serving our own turn, we can serve yours too; whether in double-lining our own nest, we can put a single living into yours."

  • Comment number 53.

    50 Bogbrush:

    Spot on, great post.

    Re. the trade balance, I would refer you to comments in my earlier post about the looming energy deficit.

    I really do not know why the current problems were not foreseen. Given that the stock of houses is essentially a static number, doubling mortgage-to-earnings ratios, and permitting higher LTVs, was always going to double nominal house prices. Passing this bubble off as "wealth creation" was always illogical. The only REAL number that doubled was the average monthly repayment at any given level of interest rates. That makes people poorer, not richer.

    But most of the public have no interest in sound finance, they just whinge about gas bills.

  • Comment number 54.

    @12... nice analysis.

    How complacent and arrogant does 'new labour' look now, to miss the opportunity of joining the Euro. Perhaps doing so might have limited the power of the city bosses whose interests they have been serving so well these past ten years.

    Robert, If only BBC analysis had been a bit more penetrating and public during the obscene housing boom. You could have asked a mate of mine, who's been living with his folks the past 6 years, waiting for this crash to happen. Though, not realising just how widespread it would be. Instead we had a raft of 'feel good' property programmes helping to pump up the myth of an unstoppable market.

  • Comment number 55.

    Fuuny how it is ''spivs and speculators'' (Alex Salmond,SNP) that has brought down HBOS. It took the market a week to fall 9%. In a day the market goes up 9%, what should these persons be called??

    When the dust settles you will find that it was a lack of ordinary buyers that was HBOS's downfall. Just as a lack of buyers in the house market exists at the moment.

    So the stock market, defunct of short-sellers, is now rigged in favour of long or call buyers. How far did HBOS's shares rise in a day? Who is complaining?

    This is indeed a rare, golden opportunity for the FSA to name and shame all the buyers from midnight 18th September 2008 who obviously have no qualms about taking advantage of such rigged markets.

    After all. where are the complaints about so-called ''spivs and speculators'' who have supposedly brought down the price of oil, and other commodities, down by 30%recently??

  • Comment number 56.

    12 Friendlycard

    Just saw that post which pretty much sums the whole thing up perfectly. You omitted just one further problem. PFI.

    The ignorance, willful or otherwise, of our govenrment is staggering. I corresponded a few years ago with Patricia Hewitt - then at DTI - which revealed her utter complacency over it all.
    She even told me that China would supply us with low value-added goods and revealed not a shred of vision about the path China is taking towards a sophisticated and capital-strong economy.

    I told her then that they'd be over buying our brands and our manufacturing industries soon enough, and that's begun.

    My main confusion is whether they are just incompetent, or dishonest enough to know what was going on but just played along hoping for the best.

  • Comment number 57.

    56: Bogbrush

    Thanks. You are right that I should have included PFI, good point.

    When it comes to incompetent or dishonest, I would say both. The situation has become a glorified form of pass-the-parcel, the parcel being an economic time-bomb that you do not want to be holding when the music stops.

    Whilst the elected politicians are a big part of the problem, the permanent state establishment, with their bureaucratic empires, are just as bad. Neither wants the music to stop.

    The point which intrigues me is, what level (and what form) of social discontent will happen when the economic time-bomb blows up?

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

    In the spirit of the "new capitalism" I'm going to max out my overdraft and use the cash to buy lottery tickets tonight.

    Naturally there should be a few winners out of the several thousand tickets, and I will spend this on champagne, lap dancers and if I'm very lucky a Damien Hurst pickled fish.

    When the bank writes to ask for it's money back I plan to return all the losing tickets to them with a suggestion they ask Mervin King to swap these for some more cash.

    Then we can do it all over again !

  • Comment number 60.

    #55 mindthegjc.

    Spot on, good post. During the week the BBC interviewed a 'spiv and speculator' from a hedge fund, Odey Asset Management, about short selling. He said he wasn't shorting HBOS, but was shorting commodities. So pricking that particular bubble and bringing prices back to some sort of near affordable level for us all eventually. As he pointed out, is he a nasty spiv? Seems to me that some people are happy for overvaluation when it suits them, but not when it doesn't. And vice versa.

    And picking up on your other point: The alacrity of the FSA in stamping down on shorting, including by CFD, is in marked contrast to their dithering and obfuscation on disclosure of long CFDs. On Friday morning I could have amassed 15%,20%, heck 25%, of HBOS at knock down prices and none of you would have known about it if I'd used CFDs (er.. only if I had the dosh, mind). I would have avoided the FSA's disclosure rules of 3% and above. What sort of potential opportunity for 'Market Abuse' is that? They have grudgingly been looking at this for years, and have finally announced, after wasting time with all sorts of 'consultations', they will introduce a disclosure regime, but not until next September. In all that will mean two years since they were first forced to consider it. Short selling by CFDs in Financial Companies? *Overnight* introduction banning it! And I’m pretty convinced that decision was forced on them by the people who pay their salaries, the Government. I’m not objecting to it, on the face of it not a bad idea in the short term, but it was still "too little, too late, the wrong target and all for puff". It's the fact that there isn't consistency.

    The FSA (I'm on a roll and a rant here, bear with me) is an ineffectual, political controlled ("independent", ha!) bolter of doors long after the nags have made their escape with the loot. In fact they helpfully opened doors before they realised what’s happened. Staffed by incompetent frustrated bankers and lawyers (banks may have been proved to be incredibly stupid, but they're not that stupid), failed bankers and lawyers, and some who can dream of being so. They walk into their gleaming office in Canary Wharf desperately wishing they were walking into other offices. They've been proved ignorant and complacent over the last year or so – Northern Rock was only the first symptom, what sort of questions where they asking before that? Come to think, what sort of questions where they asking after that?

    I’ll go and lie down now..

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm finding these comments quite theraputic.

    It's heartening to see that there are people away from the establishment sufficiently intelligent and insightful to call it as it is.

    59 superiorsnapshot, you might be on to something. Perhaps we could export pickled animals to the world and so resolve our problems?
    It would make a valuable bit of diversity to an economy shortly to be based primarily on us all dressing up in Beefeater costumes to entertain Chinese tourists.

  • Comment number 62.

    I think the analysis is wrong in linking UK and US housing markets. In the US, there are lots of empty houses- in the UK there is still a waiting list for homes. There has to be a further correction to get house building going again but that has as much to do with the price of land and the cost of s106 agreements as it does with builders coming up with packages that first time buyers can afford.
    What we need is behaviour change within the financial world- no excessive pay packages and no stupid incentives- perhaps senior executives and directors should be banned from holding shares or being incentivised with reference to share prices. We need banks to become boring nd go back to what they should do- weigh up risk and price loans accordingly. Building Societies likewise. As for hedge funds- I think they have had their day- we do need hedging but what we do not need is hedge funds with so much cash that they create false markets- and some of them have had the cheek to say that stopping short selling will creata a false market- as if short selling does not. We live in interesting times and in fact a time of great opportunity as there will be real rewards for those who develop financial services that meet the new paradigm.

  • Comment number 63.

    Seems my #60 got 'referred to the moderators'. It started off with "#55 mindthegjc. Spot on, good post."

    OK, I then went on to have a bit of a go at the FSA, about disclosure of long CFDs and consistancy, but heck, I didn't swear or anything - I've seen worse here?

  • Comment number 64.

    I don't invest in the stock markets but I do own property and a company (private family owned). If someone "borrowed" my company without paying for it and then sold it on to force the price down and then later buy it back at a lower price to "give" it back to me I would call in the police as what that person had committed was theft (from me) and fraud (selling something he/she did not own). In the stock markets its called short selling but its still theft and fraud in my view. Am I wrong?????? The lack of regulation in the financial markets leads to wild speculation, fueled by greed for "easy money" and fraud. I hope that the management boards of the failed "financial institutions" will be made to pay a personal price for their actions, which in the real world would be punished as theft and fraud.

  • Comment number 65.

    Doesn't the following BBC article just sum up the absurdity of Browns position?

    Brown hails his financial management. Well, someone has to don't they??

  • Comment number 66.

    The giant bailout sounds desperate. I'm reminded of Towering Inferno when Steve McQueen has to blow up the tanks on the roof and hope there is enough water there to put out the fire. But bailouts are part of the problem. Exactly ten years ago hedge fund monster LTCM failed and was bailed out. The trend it set was that financials and hedge funds realized they could take massive risk and leverage, and apply all kinds of complex intruments/derivatives.
    They knew that they would have to get bailed out if it went awry, in order to safeguard the economy and normal market functioning. Lehman was unlucky. Hedge funds must be imploding all over the place now esp. with the ban on short selling. What effect could this have? I just sense this is'nt over yet. It's gotton very complex, messy and even scary. When Isaac Newton lost £20,000 in the South Sea Bubble he supposedly said:"I can compute the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people".

  • Comment number 67.

    The hedge fund. They plan nothing, design nothing, manufacture nothing, assemble nothing, build nothing nor produce anything of real use or value to society. They are the means by which those who have large amounts of capital are able to to increase it at no cost to themselves but at great cost to society at large. It seems to come back to a statement by Alexander Hamilton, one of founding fathers of the Republic, along the lines that as much capital as possible should be in the hands of the few rather than spread among the many .
    How did this come to be? 
    Alexander Hamilton had suggested that the new Republic’s government should reimburse the securities it owed to those who fought in the Revolutionary War at their full price. When speculators heard of this, they bought the securities from the fighters in the Revolution at a fraction of their cost, hoping to make a good profit.  There was much opposition to this, many in the newly established Congress wanting a fairer reimbursement for those who had actually done the fighting.  But there was some wheeling and dealing carried out on this and other matters which were to have long term consequences for the new Republic. Two of the most important were to do with slave holding and the siting of the capital of the new Republic in a swamp on the banks of the Potomac, rather than in Philadelphia. So the many people and their families who fought and died for the Revolution were short changed for the benefit of the rich few. 
    Just as in the current Iraq Fiasco, which interestingly, for if you read The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. by Joseph E. Stiglitz,Linda J. Bilmes, is a conflict that is being entirely financed by debt. the first since the War of Independence.
    The most recent and egregious have been the Savings and Loan of 1980s and the bailout of Long Term Capital Management in the 1990s and now the current Wall Street meltdown.
    I too am glad not to be a taxpayer in the USA.

  • Comment number 68.

    The bailout is outrageous, and the general applause evidence of the moral bankruptcy of the finance and governemnt side.

    Whatever happened to capitalism, linking risk to reward, my word is my bond, and all that?
    I've never been sympathetic to socialism, but you can see why revolutions happen, and why certain types (lawyers, bankers etc) are the first up against the wall - it's because pent up frustration engendered by this kind of behaviour, when it's released, is expressed in extreme forms.

    Oh, and for the moderators this ISN'T a call to arms, it's making clear just how bad this bailout is.

    Well done to John McCain for condemning it; Barack Obama has revealed some shallowness in his vague reply and for the first time has got me wondering whether the Yanks wouldn't be better putting McCain in.

  • Comment number 69.

    But wait! There is more!.
    More on the whole sad story of the WS Meltdown, the Faux Texan, the White House Cabal and the so called PATRIOT Act.
    The Homeland Security Head Honcho Michael Chertoff has indicated that in a little known part of the PATRIOT Act it is an act of sedition
    for depositors to withdraw their money from a financial institution if the US Treasury or Federal Reserve deems that such an action would cause it to fail
    So it now appears that depositors withdrawing their own money from corporate heavyweights are now seen as enemies of the state!
    Land of the Free?
    The web source for this is

  • Comment number 70.

    I've looked at my blocked #60 and decided to try again without what I can only presume are the offending bits:

    "#55 mindthegjc. Spot on, good post. During the week the BBC interviewed a 'spiv and speculator' from a hedge fund, [removed name, although it was on the broadcast], about short selling. He said he wasn't shorting HBOS, but was shorting commodities. So, pricking that particular bubble and bringing prices back to some sort of near affordable level for us all eventually. As he pointed out, is he a nasty spiv? Seems to me that some people are happy for overvaluation when it suits them, but not when it doesn't. And vice versa.

    And picking up on your other point: The alacrity of the FSA in stamping down on shorting, including by CFD, is in marked contrast to their dithering and obfuscation on disclosure of long CFDs. On Friday morning I could have amassed 15%,20%, heck 25%, of HBOS at knock down prices and none of you would have known about it if I'd used CFDs (er.. only if I had the dosh, mind). I would have avoided the FSA's disclosure rules of 3% and above. What sort of potential opportunity for 'Market Abuse' is that? They have grudgingly been looking at this for years, and have finally announced, after wasting time with all sorts of 'consultations', they will introduce a disclosure regime, but not until next September. In all that will mean two years since they were first forced to consider it. Short selling by CFDs in Financial Companies? *Overnight* introduction banning it! And I'm pretty convinced that decision was forced on them by the people who pay their salaries, the Government. I'm not objecting to it, on the face of it not a bad idea in the short term, but it was still "too little, too late, the wrong target and all for puff". It's the fact that there isn’t consistency.

    The FSA (I'm on a roll and a rant here, bear with me) is an ineffectual, political controlled ("independent", ha!) bolter of doors long after the nags have made their escape with the loot. In fact they helpfully opened doors before they realised what’s happened. Staffed by [ok this bit might have been a bit over the top..]. They've been proved ignorant and complacent over the last year or so – Northern Rock was only the first symptom, what sort of questions where they asking before that? Come to think, what sort of questions where they asking after that?

    I'll go and lie down now.."

  • Comment number 71.

    If you use finance,credit,have money in the bank,are a company with capital on deposit or anyone who uses a bank for business purposes or personal reasons,you should sing the praise of Henry "Hank" Paulson.

    It is a pity that our exchequer is so weak,sub prime and so quiet when it really matters.
    Paulson has shown decisive action in addressing a problem so bad,vitually no one was immune from the consequences of financial meltdowm.

    Yes,we all know the problem started in Wall Street,but preaching "moral hazard " and ending the special Liquidity Scheme,at a time of enormous stress in financial markets ,clearly shows Mervyn King,like our Prime minister and Darling exchequer,are and always will be behind the curve.
    Paulson has saved the world from financial meldown, on a scale to be almost beyond comprehension.

    Well Done HanK in showing true courage and leadership,when it was needed.

  • Comment number 72.

    Assuming the Fed buys the toxic loans from the banks - and the US homeowners still can't pay their mortages (they weren't creditworthy to start with) - will, in effect, the US Government now be the ones that repossesses their citizens homes and throws families onto the streets? Is this smart politics?

  • Comment number 73.


  • Comment number 74.

    72 joinedupPeter:

    The US government won't be throwing anyone out. The new US government-backed body will buy toxic debt from the banks. The toxic debt consists of packages of debt owed to the banks. (Or packages of packages even.) They won't be buying the mortgages themselves, just financial instruments derived from those mortgages.

    So it will still be the banks foreclosing on people - but when they can't get the loans back, it's the US government that will lose the money. This is really a massive State subsidy for the banks who lent the money in the first place (to people that were never going to be able to repay). Ultimately this will undermine the US currency and hence the economic foundations of the US.

  • Comment number 75.

    # 12 friendlycard

    Obviously, we're like-minded thinkers (you picked up on one of my other posts). It is alarming just how precarious a future the UK now faces. Our staggeringly incompetent, spin-obsessed, socialist government has spent a decade sailing us into a perfect storm of economic and social upheaval, the likes of which we have not experienced before. The situation is bad: a "convergence of catastrophes". Over the next 1 - 5 years (no point in gazing much beyond this timeframe right now) the British people will suffer the consequences of: the collapse of our flawed financial systems and industry; economic deceit and the utterly crippling cost of our bloated, debt-fuelled public sector; the end of cheap energy (oh boy - real bad); chronic under-investment in our energy infrastructure and security; costly overseas military adventures; uncontrolled immigration. Add up the impact on our scoiety of this lot and only the most naively optimistic citizen could argue that the future is bright. And then there is the Conservative Party - planning to do more-of-the-same Labour stuff and offering us a share of "the proceeds of growth". God help us.

  • Comment number 76.

    Apart from the seriousness of the situation, another eye-opener is the way 'nationalisation' (by any other name) has, overnight, become acceptable by the 'capitalists'.


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