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Political pressure on the FSA regulators

Alastair Darling said yesterday, 8th February 2009 that nobody
associated with these large losses should be allowed to walk
away with large bonuses.

Also yesterday I posted that the governments were warned
by regulators, Howard Davies, as far back as 2002 and provided a
couple of links to support that contention.

I said there is no way they can credibly say that nobody saw it
coming. And that must include Gordon and Tony.

Should Alastair's remark today also apply to Tony Blair?

Tony Blair's government having got rid of Howard Davies appoints
Callum McCarthy the ex BZW Barclays' investment bank man, as
chairman of the FSA. Callum McCarthy described himself as a
deregulator rather than a regulator and lived by the mantra of
the market. Even after having a market man and deregulator
become chairman of the FSA it didn't stop Tony trying to cramp
their ability to regulate further by accusing the FSA of 'hugely
inhibiting business'.

Quote from the Telegraph:- "McCarthy was knighted years ago,
soon after Tony Blair publicly claimed that FSA red tape was
'hugely inhibiting business'. McCarthy fired off a four-page
letter denying bureaucracy but soon after proposed scrapping 300
pages of the 700-page Conduct of Business Rules. The knighthood
suggested he had made up with the PM."

In Paul Mason's blog post "An Orwellian episode" he writes:- "We
don't know how the spat ended because Tony Blair's reply to this
letter has been suppressed under the Freedom of Information
laws. What we do know is that the FSA was under political
pressure from the Labour government to be even more hands-off
than it already was."

In Lord Turner's Economist's Inaugural City Lecture of 21
January 2009 he says.... "The far bigger failure - shared by
bankers, regulators, central banks, finance ministers and
academics across the world - was the failure to identify that
the whole system was fraught with market wide, systemic risk."

It's clear that although Lord Turner is admitting the failure of
finance ministers which means the team of Brown and Blair, he is
excusing and muddying the waters in true Yes Minister fashion by
trying to share the blame out with "academics across the world".

The truth is that academics warned of the dangers, and any
regulators who showed any signs of doing anything about it were
moved and/or criticised. It is clear that it was the politicians
who failed.

As Paul Mason, Newsnight´s economics editor, also points out,
Gordon Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer said in a June 2007
in a speech to Mansion House. "I believe it will be said of this
age, the first decades of the 21st century, that out of the
greatest restructuring of the global economy, perhaps even
greater than the industrial revolution, a new world order was

I can't help but wonder if Gordon Brown wasn't indicating an
astonishing degree of prescience for one, who had in Lord
Turner's words, failed to realise that "the whole system was
fraught with market wide, systemic risk."

Or should we conclude Gordon Brown did know all along, but had
done nothing for electoral reasons, or because he had his eye on
becoming Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury himself?

In Docking bankers' pay Robert Peston, the BBC's business
editor, writes "the luckiest bankers may turn out to be those
who were sacked last year for their incompetence and managed to
walk away with payoffs and fat pensions"

So is Tony Blair now a lucky banker? It was he who as First Lord
of the Treasury encouraged the regulators to leave the city
alone. Did he get his own large bonus for failure after leaving
his position?...

Tony Blair joins investment bank JP Morgan.

"JP Morgan, one of Wall Street's leading banks, is part of JP
Morgan Chase & Co, a global financial services firm with assets
of $1.5 trillion (£760bn) and operations in more than 50

"Mr Blair earlier told the Financial Times he planned to take up
'a small handful' of similar roles with other companies in
different sectors."

From the Times online:- "He is believed to have held talks with
other banks, such as HSBC and Citigroup, about such roles and
there was speculation at the end of last year that he would take
a position at Credit Suisse because of his close friendship with
Russell Chambers, one of the bank´s senior executives...." and
...."Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said Mr
Blair would be 'enormously valuable' to the company. 'There are
only a handful of people in the world who have the knowledge and
relationships that he has.'..."

From the Guardian:-
Zurich Insurance job takes Blair's earnings above £7m

From the Times:- "Tony Blair has come under attack from the
Chinese media after he was allegedly paid $500,000 (£237,000)
for a three-hour trip to a luxury Chinese housing estate"....
..."Mr Blair gave a speech in Hong Kong at a lunch hosted by
Merrill Lynch, the financial services firm which is one of the
world's biggest investment banks, before heading to engagements
in the booming cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan on the Chinese

So, it would be interesting to watch Alastair Darling be
questioned by any journalist, Paxman perhaps, about saying that
nobody associated with these large losses should be allowed to
walk away with large bonuses.

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