James Forsyth

How important were all those initiatives the government kept announcing?

How important were all those initiatives the government kept announcing?
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There was a time when the government seemed to be announcing new measures to get the economy and the banking sector in particular moving again on an almost daily basis. Today, the Wall Street Journal has done a rather good audit of these measures. For instance, in January “the British government created a guarantee program meant to revive the dormant market for asset-backed securities. The program aims to spur purchases of banks' asset-back securities, or bundled consumer loans, by guaranteeing them for buyers. The guarantees were made available in April, but since then, none of the major U.K. banks has issued a security with such a guarantee.” Also, only 13 firms have joined in the government’s £5 billion trade insurance programme.

Now, in some ways, huge levels of participation would indicate that the government’s terms had been too generous to the banks or other private firms. (And, as the Journal notes, the banks did take the government up on its biggest offers). But the extremely limited take up of many of these schemes suggests that they were not nearly as important as they were spinned to be.