I have followed the news for years, partly because that was one of the main television programmes when I was a kid and we always watched it - our window on the world. In later years I followed it through professional interest and involvement in media issues. These days, I hold a reasonably responsible job linked to business risk. Fortunately there's not too much finance involved - it's mainly reputation and legal stuff. Nevertheless, I've got responsibilities and I take them seriously. I get paid for doing a good job and I enjoy the challenge (or is that a little old fashioned these days?). I was fascinated today to read the story of the resignation of the deputy chief of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) Sir James Crosby.
You see, like the reputation of Scots people for thrift and saving money, Monty Python also had a view on Yorkshiremen and their relationship with money and wealth. I know from my own experiences that there is also a fondness in this part of the country for exaggerating our hard times as kids:
I was happier then and I had nothin'. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.
House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, 'alf the floor was missing, and we were all 'uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
Don't groan, it is a political bent to today's blog, but actually it affects every single one of us in this country today. Sir James was HBOS bank chief when a risk manager Paul Moore allegedly told the Board that that it was expanding too fast and he was allegedly dismissed by Sir James because he did not like what he was hearing according to the BBC News site. Sir James then became deputy of the very service (FSA) that was supposed, as an independent body, to regulate the financial services industry in the UK. To you and me, that means making sure that the banks and financial institutions play by the book in promoting fair, efficient and orderly markets.
I am absolutely delighted Sir James has resigned, after this story whether it be true or not, he has no credibility and Paul Moore is adamant that it happened. If you follow the cliche that 'there's no smoke without fire' then he had no choice. The other delightful piece of theatre was the big four bankers appearing before the select committee and apologising for what had happened in the banking industry. That may or not be enough, but I can't really get a grip of the fact that the Royal Bank of Scotland is losing 2,300 employees and we, the taxpayer has given them £20 billion to keep them afloat. Why? Because they are incompetent, and now they carry on and frankly I'm not convinced that the Government has the power or the will to act to stop this happening again in the private sector. I wouldn't want to be the Tory party today, knowing they will win the next election to have to inherit the deepest recession we have seen for 100 years.
I feel for all those who have lost their jobs in this recession and not because they were incompetent or performing badly. I feel for all the small businesses particularly many in the area I live who were carrying out business in a professional way but were let down by the very banks that are now so risk averse that they feel they can no longer support thriving and successful firms in difficult times. Banks that were so bad at their own business that others suffered and are suffering and will continue to suffer. Their arrogance is staggering and today the Government have shown themselves as toothless.
An anonymous quote in the Penguin Collection of Modern Humerous Quotations is as follows: "A banker is a man who lends you an umbrella when the weather is fair, and takes it away from you when it rains." Perhaps the very question should be asked of those regulating the financial services industry - the watchdog - what the hell were they doing while Rome burned... fiddling on their violins no doubt.
On a lighter note, what do you call 200 bankers on the sea bed? A start.
Two spelling mistakes today