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A penitent banker’s plea for reform

6 May 2013

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards is due to deliver its final report this month. It will be waiting in Mark Carney’s in-tray when the new governor joins Andrew Bailey and George Osborne to form the triumvirate responsible for the reform of the banking sector. Many expect the Commission’s report to fall far short of what is needed, tinkering with the Vickers recommendations by, for example, electrifying the ring-fence rather than recommending truly fundamental reform.

Here, prepared a little while ago, is an impassioned plea for a more radical approach. Instead of cosmetic changes with little real impact, it advocates going back to the drawing board. It outlines the difficulty of regulating banks in an international context, and explains how the internal systems of corporate governance that should have protected us failed. It concludes with a summary of its recommendations as to what should be done to the banks in robust language normally found on the trading floor. That is of course no more than the banks have done to us.

Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue,
Yet dearely I love you, and would be lov’d faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie,
Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

  1. If the best of bankers “think outside the box”,
    Then that box should be sealed, with adamant locks.

  2. Milton meets Donne…

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