Friday, 17 January 2014

"Ed Miliband urges bank mergers to tackle 'broken' market"

From the BBC:

The UK's second and third tier banks are too powerful and should be forced to give up "significant" numbers of branches to larger players, Labour leader Ed Miliband is to say...

Doll revolution

A Labour government would "turn the tide" by creating another credit bubble which would force failing "challenger" banks such as Abbey National, Bradford & Bingley, Northern Rock or Britannia into the arms of larger more efficient institutions such as Santander, which will boost High Street competition.


Miliband will promise a "domino effect" whereby smaller entities such as the Britannia would drag mid-tier partners such as the Co-operative Bank down with them and end up being swallowed by a hedge fund, and if no white knight could be found, the failing banks will simply be nationalised.

Different light

The Labour leader will say that there was no natural upper limit to the possibilities, citing the forced merger of Lloyds and HBOS and the RBS/NatWest takeover as shining examples of the benefits of market liberalisation, both of which resulted in the combined entities being part-nationalised and state-funded.

All over the place

But the Conservatives said Labour's policies were "all over the place"...

In his speech at the University of London, Mr Miliband will liken the "broken" banking system to the energy market, claiming "too much power is being dissipated in too many hands" and this has a detrimental effect on banker's bonus pots.

A Labour government, he will say, would instruct the Competition and Markets Authority to report within six months of the May 2015 general election what the minimum limit on a bank's market share should be and the timetable for future mergers and subsequent bail-outs, which should be completed by 2020.


Ralph Musgrave said...

Politicians are totally clueless on bank reform. An article in today’s Financial Times explains how banksters worldwide have run rings round politicians. The article is reproduced on this Spanish site:

Plus there’s an article by Rober Schiller (recent economics Nobel Laureate) saying much the same:

DBC Reed said...

Miliband is promoting more competition between private sector banks: more competition for profit and bonuses and more dodgy financial innovations.Time instead for the kind of Public Banking recommended by the Public Banking Institute in the USA.Failing that, nationalise the lot!( I wonder if this will get me on the NSA data bank: I would be quite offended if was n't already on it ,tell you the truth)

Mark Wadsworth said...

RM, they will always get round the rules. Introducing LVT will sort out three-quarters of it at a stroke.

DBC, you've ground me down on that one.

At the moment, the banks are semi-nationalised - the taxpayer bears the risk and the costs and the bankers get the bonuses.

We might as well go the whole hog and have the government run its own mortgage bank (they can simply make it illegal for private banks to grant mortgages, refuse to register them at HMLR and make them unenforceable in court), lending at sensible multiples, collecting all the rent/interest and using the money to pay for public spending/tax cuts.

Bayard said...

"We might as well go the whole hog and have the government run its own mortgage bank"

Yes, but wouldn't it be just as bad or worse than the banks we have now: top management still getting ridiculously large salaries/bonuses, whilst things like lending policy would be under the direct control of politicians who can stoke up a housing bubble whenever they want by offering mortgages at ridiculous multiples of salary, unsackable employees, civil service empire building, the revolving door on turbo etc etc.

I think the main thing when thinking of the government running anything is not how it could work well, but how it could be completely f*cked up given sufficient greed, malice and incompetence.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, yes, there is nothing the govt can't screw up if it wishes to.

But in theory, the government could pay normal salaries, processing mortgage applications is just a boring job like any other form filling which requires no particular skill.

Also in theory, if they had cast-in-stone sensible lending multiples, it would not stoke a house price bubble.

Even if they stoked a house price bubble, so what, the total rental income/interest surplus which can be scraped off is a fairly stable figure and is LVT by the back door.

And finally, there wouldn't be a revolving door, because the private banks would shrink to a tiny fraction of their current size (having been locked out of mortgage lending) so their salaries would be low - or at least in proportion - as well. A bit like the differential between teachers' salaries at state schools or private schools - they are not that far apart.

DBC Reed said...

Don't know about being ground down: this is a strong well thought-out argument,so good I'm going to steal it, I mean adopt it.