Thursday 2 October 2008

Who's really being decisive?

Whilst Gordon Brown endlessly reiterates the mantra that he is acting decisively, the Irish government has actually taken action, rather than just talking about it. And Brown's response is to raise doubts about what they've done - when he should be following suit.

The Irish have, effectively, guaranteed the whole of the deposits made in their banks, whilst the UK government proposes only to raise the level of guarantee from £35,000 to £50,000. It's a meaningless distinction. In reality, as one Labour peer has already pointed out, the UK government, whatever it says about imposing a limit, is for all practical purposes committed to a full guarantee - so why not just be honest about it?

A few days ago, I raised the question of how 'global' the crisis really is, drawing attention to places like Spain which have been relatively unaffected. The Economist carried an interesting article about how Spain managed to avoid the crisis so well. This could have been us – but for the obsession with allowing the 'markets' to do whatever they wish.

And, if any more confirmation was needed that the time has come to clamp down on the speculators and gamblers who have already done so much damage, the headline in yesterday's Daily Express certainly provided it. Not content with forcing a bank onto the rocks, it seems that the speculators were actually trying to wreck the rescue deal for HBOS. Not because it was a bad deal, not because the deal isn't necessary, but purely because they could make a bit more money by doing so. It neatly sums up the (lack of) values which drive them.

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