Banks

Jim Pickard

Cary Cooper, a patron of the National Bullying Helpline, resigned this morning at protest at the decision by Christine Pratt – its head – to go public on her allegations of bullying at 10 Downing Street.

I’ve just come off the phone from Mary O’Connor*, another patron, who has also just resigned within the last half an hour. Read more

Brooke Masters, chief regulation correspondent, talks about the future of regulation in the UK.

Jim Pickard

There has been an enormous amount of to-ing and fro-ing in recent weeks between the three parties and the three broadcasters hosting April’s pre-election TV debates; some of which I alluded to last week.*

Philip Webster has a good piece this morning on Brown taking soundings from Joel Benenson, who advised Obama and Biden ahead of their election debates. Read more

Jim Pickard

I read on the front page of the Telegraph that George Osborne will give savers a better deal – “restoring a savings culture to the heart of the economy”.

The shadow chancellor wants to help people save by enrolling workers into pensions, restoring the link between the state pension and average earnings and helping savers who have been hit by the abolition of the dividend tax credit for pension funds. Read more

Jim Pickard

It was all just a dream.

You may have thought that the Tories were the party of fiscal probity. You may have thought that they were the ones who were going to get a grip on Britain’s desperate public finances. They were the ones who would prevent the loss of the UK’s AAA credit rating and keep interest rates low. Etc, etc, etc. Read more

Jim Pickard

The former prime minister is not taking up an advisory post or directorship at Lansdowne Partners, as others are tweeting, or so the company insists.

However, he will give four “geopolitical” talks to staff at the hedge fund. At about £50-£100,000 per speech that still adds up to a generous payment. There are also well-placed suggestions that this could be extended in the future into a more permanent role. Read more

Jim Pickard

Nick Clegg attracted some mocking laughter from MPs – including Gordon Brown – during PMQs today for daring to question the Cadbury’s takeover. How come the government couldn’t stop RBS, which is state-owned, part-funding the Kraft takeover, he asked?

Last month, Lord Mandelson declared that the government would mount a huge opposition to the Kraft takeover of Cadbury’s, so why does the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is owned by this government, now want to lend vast amounts of our money to Kraft to fund that takeover? Read more

Jim Pickard

I’m not officially working today (am at home, in recovery from gastric flu). But I’ve just been passed something so fascinating I couldn’t help passing it on.

You may not remember but something called the “Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme” was one of the flagship ideas in Gordon Brown’s Queen’s Speech in 2008. (Even Alex and I were quite excited at the time.) The idea was to help people defer mortgage interest for up to two years if they were struggling with payments. The scheme took ages to set up and – even when it was finally announced this spring – only half of lenders fully signed up to it. Even so, the government presented it as a major victory against repossession. Read more

There is some furious tax planning afoot at the Treasury. The goal: a one-off levy on bankers that will limit the political damage from that champaigne-guzzling, Porsche-buying, loads-a-money bonus pay-out moment.

It will attempt to placate the baying mob rather than pay down the deficit. But in order for this to work, bankers need to feel the pinch. Announcing a clampdown that includes a big loophole will be a PR disaster for Alistair Darling. Read more

Jim Pickard

If you haven’t seen today’s BBC interview with Lord Myners it’s worth a look.

The guidance I was getting yesterday from a Treasury source was that the government realised that banks needed to pay competitive salaries to their staff (a line echoed by Lord Mandelson today). And it would thus be wrong to crack down too hard on bonuses. Read more

Jim Pickard

An astonishing tale emerged this morning as Bank of England executives faced the Treasury select committee.

It transpired that the BoE extended secret emergency financing to RBS and what was then HBOS during the banking panic in October 2008, indicating the two banks were even closer to collapse than had been thought.

Jim Pickard

So many numbers are flying around that you might not have spotted today’s real news on RBS. Read more