Friday 22 January 2010

Osborne and the banks

If you believe, as I do, that the banks are now the key issue in politics - not just sitting on wads of money but actively hoovering up the money in the world out of productive enterprise - then Obama's plan to break them up has to be an exciting move. It isn't very clear what he means by 'break them up', but since he says he wants to limit their size, I hope this will go beyond splitting domestic banking rom investment banking. We'll have to see.

The disappointment in all this is George Osborne. His rather evasive interview on the Today programme this morning made it clear that is certainly isn't in favour of breaking up the banks in any meaningful sense. They will remain monopolistic vacuum cleaners under his Chancellorship. But the real question is whether he will follow Obama into tackling risky trading.

In fact, as it turns out, his position is that he will wait for the rest of the world to do it. The answer is therefore a coded No.

This is a huge wasted opportunity. The combination of Osborne and Cable could push the Brown government into following the Americans. As it is, we may have to wait for the next crash but one.

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