James Moore: Banks must pay for their insurance policies, too

Outlook The Bank of England doesn't appear to be for turning when it comes to the demands it is making on banks over the amount of capital they hold. That much was made clear at yesterday's Treasury Select Committee. It promises to make life uncomfortable for Barclays and Nationwide as they work out how to satisfy their new regulator's demands.

Much has been made of Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins' suggestion over the weekend that his bank could crimp lending as a means of satisfying the Bank and its Prudential Regulation Authority, overseen by Andrew Bailey.

It responded by warning that any such move by Barclays would be swiftly rejected.

Critics of the new get tough stance by the Bank argue that such a suggestion is outrageous. What Mr Bailey is doing, they claim, goes beyond what a regulator has any right to do.

Sure, they say, he's at liberty to make demands when it comes to capital. But in telling banks they're not allowed to crimp lending to satisfy those demands he is effectively stepping in and telling them how they should be running their businesses.

That state might have a case for doing this with Lloyds or Royal Bank of Scotland. In both cases it is the major or controlling shareholder, and capital provider. But not so with Barclays and Nationwide. They haven't had to go cap in hand to the British taxpayer (and have been lending pretty actively).

This misses the point. The state is still the lender of last resort to both institutions. It pumped billions into the financial system during the financial crisis, and both were beneficiaries because without it the whole financial system may have collapsed, taking them down with it.

The state effectively underwrites both institutions. Neither can be allowed to fail, and the executives at the head of both are well aware of that. If they were to run into difficulties, the state (for which read us as taxpayers) would ultimately pick up the tab.

As such, they both enjoy a free insurance policy; moreover the tacit existence of this makes it cheaper for them to borrow.

Thing is, insurers have always imposed conditions upon those they insure. That's why most of us have window locks, for example.

Now you can debate the way that the Bank has conducted this episode. It has been rather cack-handed. But Mr Bailey has every right to disbar Barclays (and Nationwide) from reigning in lending as a means of getting capital, or leverage, ratios to where the Bank of England would like them to be. That's simply the price of the insurance policy the Bank (and through it, all of us) provides.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam