April 5, 2013

Chancellor George Osborne this week vowed to “put right the wrong of the age of irresponsibility” as he formally unveiled his glistening new twin peaks of financial regulation. In a literally scintillating speech, he thanked everyone involved in the old regulatory order, but did not flinch from saying it had all been a bit rubbish, really.

“Britain’s tripartite system of regulation failed us in war and peace”, he remarked cryptically (Bankstone News must have skipped that chapter) “and the country has paid a very heavy price for that.” But all should be well henceforth, it seems, thanks to the government acting decisively to sweep away all that was formerly rotten and corrupt.

The FCA, the future baronet and wallpaper heir revealed, will “focus razor-like on market abuse and protecting consumers”. Despite spending most of this morning attempting to get a razor to focus, Bankstone News still has no idea what this means, but we’re 99% sure it’s a good thing. Presumably the FCA’s razor-like focus will cut out the market abuse bit but leave the consumer protection bit. Or perhaps it’s the the other way round – but you get the general idea.

In specific relation to the LIBOR manipulation scandal, Gio said that the FSA’s “criminal powers” did not extend to punishing the manipulators with “criminal sanctions” but he’s investigating whether something criminal could be done to abusers and manipulators in future, and is also looking into doing something criminal to those responsible for the failure of RBS.

He said he wasn’t sure it had been a good idea that in the past income from fines imposed by the FSA had been used “to reduce the annual levy other financial institutions are asked to pay” and thought he might actually prefer to hang on to them or something. He went on to say that it is clear that “what happened in Barclays and potentially other banks” was “symptomatic of a financial system that elevated greed above all other concerns,” and will presumably now be taking steps to invent new ways of motivating those working in the financial services delinked from direct financial reward.

In future taxpayers will be protected and wrong doers punished, Mr O insisted, adding that he hoped Britain’s financial services sector would “support the creation of jobs and prosperity for millions” in a taxpayer-friendly fashion now that HMG is “sweeping away the regulatory system that failed”. If that doesn’t reassure taxpayers, surely nothing will!

How would you like a cuff around the ear hole?


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