Alistair Darling has publicly voiced his opposition to Barack Obama's plans to break up the banks, which the US President revealed to a startled financial world last Thursday.
As finance ministers of the G7 group of nations gathered in London to discuss the White House's latest proposals, with Britain represented by the City minister, Lord Myners, the Chancellor made explicit his scepticism about the Obama administration's plan. Mr Darling said: "If everyone does their own thing it will achieve absolutely nothing. The banks are global. They are quite capable of organising themselves in such a way that if the regime is difficult in one country they will go to another one, and that doesn't do anyone any good."
At a time of intense public pressure on governments to restrain bankers' remuneration, reports at the weekend suggested that Barclays was likely to defer its bonus payments to executives for up to three years, given the Government's new tax on bank bonuses, while Goldman Sachs was said to be ready to limit bonuses to £1m.
Barclays has apparently decided that its directors and senior staff can have their bonus payments postponed for up to three years. Senior executives will defer up to 100 per cent of their bonuses, while the next 2,000 or so employees will have to wait longer for 75 per cent of their bonuses. Payments for last year have not been decided, but Barclays will announce to staff soon that bonuses will be mostly taken in shares and the actual receipt of bonuses will be "staggered" up to 2013, in line with recommendations in the Turner report.
The new Barclays approach is expected to form a permanent policy.