The City knows which way the wind is blowing and is concerned. Stuart Fraser, chair of the policy and resources committee at the City of London Corporation, warned last night at an FT fringe event:
“I understand the pressures the politicians will be under but as we go forward governments and regulators should resist the temptation to pile on excessive red tape for the sake of it. Act in haste and repent at leisure is a good watchword for all regulators.”
True, George Osborne didn’t sound desperately sympathetic to the plight of credit crunch victims when he said on Newsnight last week: “Well look, no one takes pleasure from people making money out of the misery of others, but that is a function of capitalist markets.”
But that is NOT the same as the quote attributed to him by the prime minister just now:
Nothing here in Manchester to suggest that Brown’s cabinet is remotely united – despite the warm words.
A few snippets:
It’s a serious question. We are set to hear a lot of words on this as Gordon Brown jets to New York tomorrow to discuss international financial regulation. “Supervision can no longer be national, it has to be global,” he has just said in his speech.
But how will a global regulatory monolith – based in Tokyo, or Wall Street for example – be able to monitor financial services more effectively than a national one?
Last week was the week in which the “world spun on its axis,” says the prime minister. Except it does day in day out.
And did I just hear him use the phrase “Servants of the People”? An expression famously used by Tony Blair in the late 1990s (and the title of an excellent book) but rapidly discredited as nonsense.
Gordon Brown has just punched David Cameron well below the belt in the opening remarks of his setpiece Labour speech.
Gordon Brown has been basking in the credit taken for the temporary ban on City short-sellers.
No matter that a] the FSA denies that he had any influence over the decison whatsoever and b] the collapse in share prices was more due to institutions dumping stock than hedge funds short-selling (less than 5 per cent of HBOS was being shorted last week, compared to 30-40 per cent for some retailers).
Security is tight up here in Manchester with police everywhere. Strange then that one man was able to gain access to the site with a bag containing half a dozen 12-inch carving knives. It’s not clear what he told the sharp-eyed enforcers but, bizarrely, he was waved through in seconds. This is a serious matter; not a basis for jokes about Brutus.