Friday 19 September 2008

Another day, another bank

The collapse and subsequent takeover of HBOS seems to have been made inevitable by a run on the shares, which forced the price into a downward spiral. It looks as if the speculators and hedge funds who drive share prices down in order to make money for themselves and their clients have selected a victim and concentrated their fire upon it. According to the financial pundits, there is more to come. Other banks are likely to be targeted next.

I referred to the way in which this happens in a previous post. Speculators sell shares they don't own to drive down the price, then buy them back again at a lower price and pocket the difference. It's called 'short selling'. Most of them do this in a way which is, incredibly, entirely legal – they 'borrow' the shares from the real owners for the purpose. Some, however, sell shares they don't own without even bothering to borrow some. That's called 'naked short selling'. It's illegal in most jurisdictions, but that doesn't seem to prevent it happening.

It's another world for most of us, but it impinges directly on the real world in which we live when such speculation and gambling creates profit for the few, and economic woe for the many.

We need to look again at the way the financial markets are (or, more to the point, are not) regulated. It cannot be right that the banks and funds on which we all depend can be threatened by gamblers and speculators; and it cannot be right that the financial stability which most of us need and depend upon can be thrown into complete turmoil for the benefit of a few.

And it is utterly hypocritical and shameful for the Conservative Party to use the credit crunch as part of their campaigning whilst their local campaign is being almost entirely funded by the sort of activity which caused the crunch in the first place.

PS – This man seems to be criticising Labour for not having done more to undo the policies of his own party. I suppose that we should be at least a little grateful that he understands how damaging some Tory policies were. His criticism is a fair one – but coming from this source, it is just more hypocrisy. I do wonder whether he has told the Tory party in this area that he favours regulation which would stop the activities which fund their campaign.

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