Outlook Yesterday provided yet more evidence of the depths to which the banking industry sank during the lead-up to and during the crisis. The fact that it came from across the Irish Sea doesn't make it any less relevant. Senior executives at Anglo Irish Bank were recorded joking about the plan to rescue the now-liquidated bank. One memorably talked of picking a €7bn figure "out of my arse".
Shocking? Yes. Surprising? Not so much. We've seen the same sort of thing again and again in the emails between traders uncovered by investigators probing the Libor scandal, and in regulatory documents filed by US authorities looking into money-laundering allegations against UK banks. What is notable about the two involved in the Irish affair is that they are rather more senior than most those exposed in the above cases. John Bowe was director of capital markets, Peter Fitzgerald was director of retail banking. They were retained when Anglo was forcibly merged with another of Ireland's failed financial institutions to form the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.
I'm not saying that they were, but would it come as any great surprise were similar conversations held at some of Britain's bailed-out banks? The recording of the two men's words has provoked an outpouring of fury in Ireland, as well it might. It will be instructive to see where the Irish go with it from a legal and regulatory perspective. If, that is, there is anywhere they can go with it.