I am just a bemused onlooker of the growing economic turmoil, but looking at the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB something strikes me as very odd!
As it has just been announced that UK mortgage lending in August was at a three year low proving that the UK housing market continues to fall (after all who in their right mind would either enter or stay in the UK property market given any other option) then the Halifax once the largest Building Society must surely be blamed for the destruction of the Bank of Scotland - what then are the chances of it not now doing the same for Lloyds and the remnants of the Trustee Savings Bank?
If the problem is mistrust by bankers of one another, absorbtion of one bank by another will surely merely shift the target of others mistrust. After my own lifetime experiences I personally do not trust one single UK bank one inch, but that does not mean I can do without them.
Of one thing I am certain, however, as a bank customer bigger has never meant better.
If the takeover of Abbey National by Lloyds a while back was halted as not in the public interest how come the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds is justified in the public interest?
According to Bloomberg TV this morning, Washington Mutual, suffering a falling market price will be sold piecemeal to up to five other US banks. Surely that should be the route in the UK. When the last bank is absorbed into one giant nationalised blob who will protect the consumer then? The EU?
Re-establishing trust in Scotland would surely be best attained by separating the old Bank of Scotland from the Halifax disaster area. Same goes all round, French consumers will surely be best re-assured by knowing the obligations of the Bank of France are being determined in France and in French Francs? Each time a financial institution is taken over, absorbed or merged into another, things get worse and the opportunity for a sound rescue of the viable parts becomes ever more remote!
Barclays yesterday bought some of Lehman proving this point! All Lloyds are proposing are redundancies!
The 180 Billions more dollars being distributed this morning by Central Banks across the world are on whose behalf and for whom to eventually settle?
Final point on this fiasco - the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, was interviewed on Channel 4 News last evening and made several statements to the effect that the Government could do as they wished as he agreed with their moves showing at a stroke he, and I believe also his party leader, have no concept whatsoever as to the meaning of parliamentary governance.
Last final point - why were the share dealings in HBOS not suspended yesterday, were the politicians or their political parties not somehow, or somewhere not making a killing from their closeness to the negotiations? Doesn't that very question highlight the real issue, who can trust these remote individuals. My first mortgage was from a mutual society that carried the name of the small Midlands town in which it was active. The management lived within that town and would never have dreamed of performing the kind of financial dealings that have today become commonplace - they and their families would have been shamed and ostracised by the community in which they too lived. Smaller is better - dishonesty is best spotted locally!
Last, last final point (OK I do know what final means!) when I was a boy I could buy a sweet for a farthing with a robin on the coin. The smallest coin today, the UK one pence piece, is almost ten times the face value of that farthing and the cheapest sweet..... how many farthings is that??????? Banks, politicians, public interest - phoooey!
Labels: Credit crunch