In the distorted world of Westminster and its client media Mr Brown and Mr Cable are held up as economic and financial experts. After all, we are told, Mr Brown was Chancellor for many years, and Mr Cable was once an energy economist at Shell.
Neither man has ever run a large private sector company – or for that matter a small one. Neither knows what it is like to be responsible for paying the suppliers and the wages, keeping the bank manager happy and trying to make a profit all at the same time. They have no comparable experience to that of trying to run a big bank.
Nor has either any especial expertise at money markets, government bonds markets and how banks work. Neither has held a job which depends on reading and understanding fast moving markets and acting to make a profit in such markets.
Both are intelligent and hard working people. But both are to their very finger tips modern politicians. They live by the soundbite of the day. Their lack of experience in what matters in this crisis has led them both to the misguided view that we need to nationalise the big banks. It leads the government to mumble that having nationalised them they should be left to get on with their own business without undue political interference, as if the owner can ignore its main investment and offer no leadership or even set out consistent and sensible aims for that investment.
Taking on banks with assets – and liabilities – well in excess of £3 trillion when the annual revenues of the state are less than one fifth of that sum is to take far too big a risk. To do so without setting out how you are going to cut the risks and manage the assets sensibly is dangerous.
We need to control the risks, sell the foreign assets, wind up the casino banks within these banks, take the losses and create a more stable and smaller footing from which they can trade sensibly. Doing it Mr Brown’s way means the taxpayer has to foot the bill. What have we done to deserve such brutal treatment?
We need the government to get a grip on these wayward banks. They do indeed need to be “cleaned up” and cleared out”. So why is there no statement of how this will be done, how much it will cost, how long it will take and when it will start? Why can’t public and Parliament see the business plan, as we are paying dearly for it.
RBS and LLoyds now dominate the public finances.