Simon English: How King of England ruled in America
Wednesday 14 December 2011
Outlook If you read Confidence Men by Ron Suskind you may experience a surge of patriotic pride. The book is an insider's account of Wall Street's collapse and of how an inexperienced President gets gamed by the system. Old-time political players act to dilute Obama's impact and to stymie his reforms.
There's an account of a meeting in Washington of the top Wall Street bank chief executives, the G7 ministers and our own Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England.
In his typically American way, Suskind fails to figure out who King is, describing him only as "a short-tempered British regulator" which hardly does the great man justice.
Suskind has him growing frustrated with the bankers and telling them this: "You are all bright people, but you failed. Risk management is hard. So the lesson is we can't let you get as big as you were and do the damage that you've done, or get as complex as you were, because you can't manage the risk element."
Good for Sir Merv. And good for us that he remains in charge at the Bank. One of the many admirable things he has done lately was to take a two-year pay freeze. This was intended as a nod to bankers about how to behave in a crisis.
They ignored him, naturally.
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