Brown Embraced the Devil

Review of Philip Augar Chasing Alpha (Bodley Head, £20)

It is rare to find the causes for a national disaster encapsulated in the dull prose of an obscure measure. Helpfully, a concise explanation of why you and your children will be paying for the collapse of the banking and housing bubble into the 2020s are set out in the clauses of the 2001 Financial Services and Markets Act.

The Financial Services Authority was not “to discourage the launch of new financial products”, the government said as it laid down the terms of trade for London’s banks and hedge funds.

The FSA had to avoid “erecting regulatory barriers”, it continued, “must consider the international mobility of the financial business” and “avoid damaging the UK’s competitiveness”.

Dwell on those instructions for a moment and think of the consequences.
Read the whole thing

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5 thoughts on “Brown Embraced the Devil

  1. The instructions to the FSA noted above seem, to me, to be written by the hand that was the lower one on the scales of balance. Where were the caveats?
    It seems incredible that so many eyes, always watching those screens, reading all the collected data, could be missing things; and the discussions that must have been going on in moneyed circles about this growing problem, practically offered little in the way of help.
    Voices in few numbers, though, were heard saying things are happening that will come to disaster, but were they ignored because financial catastrophe, like other past failures, was not for the 21st century?
    I’m going to bust my giro and get those books, because I feel more clueless everyday.

  2. Does this sound familiar:

    ‘ The relation between masters and servants had been long since dissolved by the Parliament…In the place of generosity, a vile and sordid love of money was entertained as the truest wisdom, and anything lawful that would contribute to being rich’.

    The tail end of a leader in the pink paper?
    No, it’s Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon writing about money troubles in the 17th century.

    I can’t help thinking it neatly fits with our present troubles. I’ll have to read on in the chapter to see what happened to the man in charge at the time. Though it doesn’t look good.

  3. I heard Gordon Brown give his reasons for the G20 gathering as the way to combat this global problem. Like it was something vicious coming all the way down from space, or had risen up out of the sea and throughout, blame was a distant word. Later on, Peter Mandelson said Gordon deserved his standing ovation from the invited and that maybe he earned one from the public too. At that, I put on 3 stone in extra disbelief.

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