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Europe’s sub-prime problem

It was Europe’s dirty little secret. While American banks were lending irresponsibly to homeowners who couldn’t pay, European banks were lending emerging countries who couldn’t pay. Europe’s sub-prime crisis has now come home as heavily-indebted nations of the Eastern bloc – Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Baltic states – are collapsing one by one into the … Continue reading

Bankers should resign now

Well, the first thing that has to happen is that those in positions of responsibility take responsibility and resign. Today will see the biggest banking rescue in history as the government effectively nationalises HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland by taking majority shareholdings in both banks. If confidence is to be restored, then it is … Continue reading

What banks do. And how we got in this mess

Last week, something happened which I never expected to see in my lifetime. There was a general run on the entire British banking system, something that hasn’t happened before, even in wartime. Ordinary people started moving their money around from bank to bank in fear that they might lose their cash. Millions of pound were … Continue reading

Darling’s having a good war

You wonder why they bother, finance ministers I mean. The stock market fell when Alistair Darling dithered over a rescue package for the banks. So he handed the banks the biggest bail out in history – £500bn of our money – and what happened? The market crashed in the worst panic since 1987. There’s just … Continue reading

Baugur it! We’ll not let Johnny Icelander seize our assets!

Well, it makes a change from fighting over fish. I can dimly recall scenes of from last cod war with Iceland in the 70s – gallant British trawlers biffing Johnny Icelander where it hurt, right in the fish stocks. We lost that one. But this time it’s personal. The Icelandic fiends have frozen British bank … Continue reading

Fifty billion here, fifty billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking serious money. Except that you aren’t anymore. Fifty billion has become a trivial sum in the new post-bubble world. If it doesn’t have at least eleven noughts at the end of it, people’s eyes glaze over in boredom. John Paulson the US Treasury Secretary … Continue reading

The arc of prosperity become the arc of insolvency

Typical. After three hundred years Scotland elects an aspirational and popular nationalist government and looks to make its own way in the world, and what happens? A global financial catastrophe threatens to clobber the Scottish economy senseless. Just Scotland?s luck. It?s back to the drawing board. Well, not quite. But the SNP government can be … Continue reading

Peter Mandelson is to politics what the naked short seller is to corporate finance. Bringing back the @prince of darkness@ was one of those ideas that probably sounded great late at night after a few beers, but should have been abandoned in the cold light of day. What is worrying is that there is clearly … Continue reading

Tories offer free buckfast

We all know that Alex Salmond is a miracle worker, but last week he surpassed even himself. He managed to get students up early enough to go to nine o’clock lectures. Admittedly they were up at the crack to lobby parliament against banning alcohol sales to under 21 year olds, but at least it was … Continue reading

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