The cost of bringing banks home
Mervyn Davies is almost the only banker to emerge from the mayhem of the past few years with his reputation enhanced.
He revived Standard Chartered as chief executive and latterly as chairman. And this British-based international bank has avoided the horrendous mistakes of its bigger, prouder peers, such as Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS.
So some will say that Gordon Brown is fortunate to have recruited the lively Welshman as trade minister, in succession to the sometimes controversial Digby Jones.
However Davies's appointment only reinforces the paradox that a prime minister who claims to be a great democrat is relying to an extent unprecedented since perhaps the 19th Century on unelected ministers in the Upper House to fix his biggest problems.
Unlike Digby Jones, Davies will join the Labour Party.
And he'll endeavour to avoid the inevitable sniping about financial conflicts of interests by putting all his assets into a blind trust. He won't be taking a salary.
So what's in it for Davies?
Well the day job is trying to promote trade and inward investment - which he sees as proper public service.
Given his expertise, he'll also have a useful sideline in the war against the credit crunch, the contraction of lending, as yet more imaginative uses of taxpayers' money are found to reverse the crippling contraction of credit available to households and businesses.
In that context, probably the most significant feature of today's announcement that something over £11bn of our money is being pledged as loan guarantees and investments in small companies is that ministers believe it'll generate some £10bn of additional lending to small and medium size businesses (that is lending on top of the £21.3bn being guaranteed).
They're stipulating that banks can only take our financial help if they pledge to use the resources that are then released to provide new loans to companies with a turnover of less than £500m.
Which is useful.
But, of course, ministers can have no control over whether banks simultaneously cut their lending to households, or big businesses.
And £10bn is - in any case - small beer in the context of the vast quantities of credit that have been removed from the economy as a whole by the collapse of a range of financial institutions and the scaling down of lending here by a raft of overseas banks.
Banks all over the world are repatriating the focus of their operations. They are concentrating their resources on their domestic markets, because of the intense political and popular pressure they face to support their home economies.
What we're seeing is reversal of the financial globalisation that was such a feature of the past 20 plus years.
In that context, there was inevitability about this morning's announcement that semi-nationalised, cash-strapped Royal Bank of Scotland has flogged its 4.26% stake in Bank of China for £1.6bn net.
It's a case of needs must - although it's a resonant manifestation of the utter collapse of Royal Bank's ambitions to rule the world (in a banking sense).
But don't assume that the widespread return by banks to national banking is all for the good.
The internationalisation of banking, the growth of cross-border flows of capital, generated huge incremental increases in the wealth of most of the world.
A long halt to the process of distributing capital to any place on the planet where its most needed and could be most productively used would impoverish rich countries and - perhaps more importantly - poor countries.