Wednesday 26 November 2008

Osborne's Monetarism on steroids is what the economy really needs

As I suggested last Thursday, if Gordon Brown and Labour really were on the side of the British economy (and the British People who must live or die by it) then they would be approaching things in a wholly different way. They wouldn't have moved to destroy British Banks deliberately in order to step in with their own "heroic" rescue package. They wouldn't have lied to the British People about the likely effects of the preferred equity scheme. They wouldn't - come to think about it - have made the scheme so punitive for political reasons that the only thing an honest banker could do is work to spit out the medicine as quickly as possible.

All this talk from Labour about the responsibilities of banks is so much baloney. Let's be perfectly clear about the duties of a board of directors at a bank - their duty is to ALL their shareholders EQUALLY - not to some fluffy concept of 2007 lending levels which barely touched the paper during the all night bullying sessions in which the Government injected their unwanted bailout money. This is not a matter of opinion - political or otherwise - it is a matter of Law and of fact. I am a shareholder of both Lloyds and HBOS and my interests (like the countless other shareholders) are best served by the rapid paydown of the punitive debt instruments, the abandonment of state influence, and a return to sensible profitable lending.

If I feel that Lloyds or HBOS are acting for political reasons (under threat or otherwise) instead of in my narrow, private interests as a shareholder then I will seek leave to sue them under Section 459 of the Companies Act as, no doubt, would many institutions and pension funds. The BBC and/or the Government have already broken the FSMA in leaking details of privileged meetings and they have no right, simply by dint of being a large shareholder, to damage my narrow economic interest for their own political reasons. The Boards of the banks know this and that is why you see little real progress in passing on lower rates or recklessly taking on high risk debt. Regrettably in this economy, managed so badly by Gordon Brown for the past eleven years, almost all debt is high risk debt.

Unless, that it, the debt can be backstopped or insured.

And it is the insurance of that bank debt which Cameron and Osborne have been - quietly and sensibly - proposing over the past few days and weeks. Lower interest rates help (traditional monetarism), but someone must provide the security and credit enhancement against which the banks can lend - whether that be in terms of factoring, sales ledger finance, leasing or plain working capital. Executed quickly, on a commercial basis, and combined with the proposals that Osborne has already made regarding employers NI and VAT holidays that would represent a real cashflow boost for Britain's struggling SME sector. Done properly it might provide the "credit firebreak" which Britain needs if confidence is to be rebuilt.

So why did Darling apparently not even hear that important proposal in today's debate? Why did he lie openly and say he had heard no suggestion from the party opposite? Because he has been told to stick to the party line that the conservatives are the "do nothing party". Like his master, he is more interested in the tiny chance of saving his own skin than the real opportunity of getting the economy moving again.

Gordon Brown is so desperate to appear the hero that he is prepared to ignore practical and useful suggestions - in a desperate attempt to make the opposition appear insensitive and disinterested. The fact that he is prepared to inflict unnecessary suffering on Britain's businesses, and destroy the Banks whose profits pay our pensioners each month shows just how calculating and callous this man is.

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