Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Banking cannibals are likely to gorge on us once again

Share
Related Topics

While we are on the subject of trust, what about the banks? Do we trust them? What do we trust them to do? They've enjoyed the biggest blood sacrifice ever – can we trust them to behave in such a way that we don't have to do that again?

Will they live hereafter a godly, righteous and sober life? Or will they be more that familiar mix of John Terry, Russell Brand and Karakatakataka the Cannibal Queen of Zanzibar? (They gorge on our substance, and suck the marrow from the bones of our wives?)

Lord Turner, our top financial regulator, appeared in front of the Treasury Committee to address this fundamental question of the modern financial services industry. Will banking cannibals once again suck the marrow from our wives, and laugh in our faces as they do so?

He said it was important "to create the ex-ante belief that subordinated debt holders will suffer loss". That sounded suspiciously like a yes.

He went on to talk about "inherent pro-cyclicarities". The suspicions deepened. There's no need to talk like that. It might have meant anything. It might have been a recipe for marrowbone jelly.

Lord Turner had a number of solutions. The ones any normal ignoramus could understand were silly, and so I assumed – perhaps unfairly – were the ones we couldn't.

To stop a boom while it was still booming he was recommending a "macroprudential committee" on which he had placed "maverick economists" in order to "institutionalise intellectual challenge". That's like sending missionaries into the Big Feast armed only with the New Testament printed on sugar paper.

Turner was lofty about the failings of the "free market" but in fact we never saw the free market at work chastising the wrongdoers (by eating them – it's the only thing they understand). The free market would have released their special counter-cannibals. Those characters in private equity are even more bloodthirsty and carnivorous than bankers.

But back to the committee. Andrew Tyrie gave the regulator quite an elegant kicking over his assertion that "the whole financial system had grown bigger than was socially useful". That statement had been modified to "some parts" of the system, and now reduced further to "a case for saying some parts were too large". Turner caused laughter with his finesse: "If parts were swollen the whole would have been bigger."

Yes, he is a master of missionary-speak but it won't be enough. He hadn't been able to control those credit instruments last time and he won't next time. He knows they mutate (sharper teeth and longer nails).

There's five years before we have to think about controlling a boom again, they all felt. But that doesn't solve the immediate and ongoing problem of these mutants continuing to gorge on us.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Critics of Fiona Woolf say she should step down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up  

Fiona Woolf resignation: As soon as she became the story, she had to leave

James Ashton
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes