Friday 5 December 2008

Bank shares stolen in round robin by Gordon?

The next major economic news comes from the newly effective FSA.

This would be the same FSA which, with Alistair Darling, suddenly forced UK banks to increase their reserves in October without notice, news which - published by Robert Peston - destroyed the share price of the banks and allowed the Government to pose as a white Knight and buy major stakes at a knockdown price with our money.

So far so good. But it wasn't our money, of course - it was Government debt, bonds. And the concern ever since (causing sterling to tumble) has been who will buy the debt?

Well - the FT this morning tells us - it will be the banks themselves, using their newly increased reserves which Gordon made them have:-

Britain’s banks face being forced to buy hundreds of billions of pounds in government bonds under proposed rules designed to make them less vulnerable to market shocks.

In an effort to boost banks’ liquidity reserves, the Financial Services Authority on Thursday recommended a proportion of their assets should be in the form of highly liquid government bonds.

This Government is forcing the banks to sell shares and increase their reserves, and buying the shares with money borrowed back from - bank reserves.

There used to be a type of share fraud known as a round robin - where a fraudster ends up with a big stake in a company by swapping shares and loan notes while increasing the share capital. In the end creditors, existing shareholders and customers lose out.

Let's hope that when the regulators say they learned lessons from Enron they don't mean it too literally!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the PBR the money for the banks is excluded from the national debt figures.(Except where the figures are calculated under Maastricht Treaty rules)

If banks will now be buying gilts with this money it will magically appear on only one side of the figures.

It looks to me like an attempt to make the future gilts auctions appear more successful than they otherwise would. The market will spot this fraud a mile off.