Mervyn king

Deutsche Bank is right to return to its domestic roots

Among the numbers attached to the restructuring of Deutsche Bank announced by Chief Executive Christian Sewing this week, the 18,000 job cull is most startling. But others tell the story just as vividly. First, the fact that the venerable institution, a pillar of Germany’s post-war economic resurgence, had raised €30 billion of new equity in the past decade in pursuit of a dream of becoming ‘Europe’s Goldman Sachs’ — but that sum is double its current shrivelled market capitalisation. Second, its most recent investment banking boss Garth Ritchie is leaving with an €11 million payoff, having collected ‘about €36 million’ over three years in which it became obvious his division

We’re heading for a ‘worst of both worlds’ Brexit

If as a country we cannot take a big decision about whether or not we should be in the European Union, which is based on sovereignty, which is based on controlling our borders; there are arguments on both sides. We ought to be able to have a reasonable and civilised debate on that, and then have a vote. What we are now getting is not a reasonable or civilised discussion. It is a discussion where both sides seem to be throwing insults at each other. And I find that deeply depressing; and frankly, if a government cannot take action to prevent some of these catastrophic outcomes – whatever position you

Will disgruntlement prevail again in 2017? Who knows, but at least 2016 was quite fun

Most of my predictions for 2016 were wrong; so let’s not revisit them. But I was right, in January, to identify as a theme of the coming year an evident gulf between ‘the reinvigorated and the demoralised’. In small business sectors and provincial towns, as well as in the attitudes of millions of citizen voters here and abroad, the divergence between optimism and disgruntlement grew as the year went on. And when it came to elections and referendums, it was the downbeat that prevailed. So here we are, fearful of the craziness of Trump, the disintegration of Italy, the triumph of Marine Le Pen and the non-resolution of the Brexit

Why lining shareholders’ pockets is more productive than plugging black holes

The revelation by actuarial consultants Lane Clark & Peacock that 56 of the supposedly blue chip companies in the FTSE 100 index are running deficits totalling £46 billion in their defined benefit pension schemes puts the BHS story into a new perspective. It tells us that the £571 million ‘black hole’ in the chain’s pension fund was by no means out of the ordinary — it is a small fraction of the deficits declared by the likes of BT, Tesco, BAE Systems and BP, even if it might have been mitigated by wiser decisions on the part of the scheme’s trustees and greater generosity on the part of former BHS owner

Mervyn King hits out at ‘wildly exaggerated claims’ in referendum ‘debate’ – ‘the government has to take some responsibility’

Although Mark Carney has warned that a Brexit is the ‘biggest domestic risk to financial stability’, his predecessor Mervyn King takes a somewhat different approach when it comes to the impending EU referendum. The former Bank of England governor used an appearance today at the Hay Festival to hit out at the ‘wildly exagerated claims’ made in the run-up to the vote. ‘I wondered who would be the first to lower the tone,’ King joshed when asked whether he thought Britain should stay or go. While he declined to give his voting preference — on the grounds that it could make life difficult for Carney — King did let his disappointment

The Spectator’s Notes: If Putin can have a referendum, so can Boris

Everyone can see that the West has no idea what to do about Russian power in the Ukraine. Britain, in particular, is at the margins. It is time for the Mayor of London to fulfil his historic role of stealing a march on more conventional politicians. Boris should take a leaf out of President Putin’s book and call a referendum of Londoners. He should ask them whether they would like all Russian housing in London to be seized, and be inhabited, instead, by British families. I predict a Yes vote whose percentage would exceed even that of the recent Crimean plebiscite. Obviously the Mayor, unlike Putin, has no military forces

Martin Vander Weyer: The BBC should replace Robert Peston with Grayson Perry

Prediction, as Mervyn King once observed, is ‘a stab in the dark’. Who can say with confidence where the wholesale price of electricity will be in ten years’ time, let alone 45 years hence at the end of the contract struck by Energy Secretary Ed Davey with EDF of France for the building of the £16 billion Hinkley Point nuclear station? We can be pretty sure the price will be a lot higher than today’s and it’s not mad to think it might have doubled by 2023, which is the starting assumption of the EDF deal. David Cameron might be right that energy costs will be ‘lower than they might

The View from 22 — Osborne’s spending review, the return of America and goodbye to Mervyn King

George Osborne’s latest spending review has demonstrated how little progress he has made on pushing Britain towards fiscal sanity. On the latest View from 22 podcast, James Forsyth and Isabel Hardman analyse Osborne’s statement to the Commons yesterday, the political significance of his plans and how Labour managed to fluff their response. Colleen Graffy, a former US state department official under George W. Bush, also joins Fraser Nelson to discuss our cover on the return of America as a significant presence on the world stage. How has the superpower regained its economic clout and what role, if any, did Barack Obama play in this miraculous recovery? Plus, Martin Vander Weyer

Martin Vander Weyer

No one liked Mervyn King – but history could yet be on his side

Sir Mervyn King was his own man to the end: professorial, downbeat, against the tide. At last week’s Mansion House dinner — as in his final vote in favour of more QE, on which his Monetary Policy Committee colleagues bade him farewell by defeating him six to three — he was still worrying about a potential reversal of the fragile recovery. Even as he packs his collection of Aston Villa programmes and MPC minutes into plastic crates, the prospect of collateral damage from another euro-storm will be furrowing his brow. So his last speech as Governor was short on jokes and long on warnings: about ‘unfinished business’ and lessons unlearned,

Jane Austen and Winston Churchill are practically the only credible banknote candidates

Silly season is here. A minor row has broken out over which long-dead figures should appear on the reverse side of Bank of England notes. I can’t be bothered to relate the details because you’ve all got better things to do like water the garden, fix lunch or watch Loose Women. Basically, Sir Mervyn King’s got it in the neck from the Continuity Bien Pensants by seeming to back Winston Churchill and Jane Austen for this dubious accolade. So far, so ludicrous. But there’s one more point worth making. The criteria for this banknote business are that the subject must be enduringly famous and recognisable. This does rather limit the field, particularly

George Osborne’s Lloyds sale will be all about votes – just as Mervyn King warned

When a politician’s speech is spun ten days in advance, you know there’s trouble behind the scenes. Next week’s Mansion House dinner will be seen by City attendees principally as a farewell to Sir Mervyn King — and journalists present (including your columnist) will be timing the ovation to see how it compares with Eddie George’s full five minutes in 2003. But we learn that the Chancellor is ‘poised’ to use the occasion to ‘signal’ a public offer of Lloyds Banking Group shares that could raise up to £17 billion and mark a turning point in the post-crisis clean-up of the banking sector. By giving discounts to small investors, it

Norman Lamont’s diary: Green shoots, George Osborne and Mark Carney

I was surprised to be told, by the editor of this magazine, that next week will mark the 20th anniversary of my standing down as Chancellor. The anniversary had entirely passed me by. I was asked this week why, if the economy was turning, George Osborne didn’t announce that he had spotted ‘green shoots’, as I observed in 1991. Although my remark, much rubbished at the time, turned out to be surprisingly prescient, I think Osborne is right to be cautious. Economic statistics are revised so often, trying to steer the economy as Chancellor is, as Harold Macmillan observed, like trying to catch a train using last year’s timetable. The

Mervyn King vs. Goldman Sachs

What did the Governor of the Bank of England think of Goldman Sachs’ plan to wait until the 50p rate is cut in April to pay bonuses? At this morning’s Treasury Select Committee, Mervyn King declined Teresa Pearce’s invitation to label it ‘morally repugnant’ but did declare it ‘depressing’, ‘clumsy’ and ‘lacking in care and attention to how other people might react’. According to the BBC, Goldman Sachs has since decided not to press ahead with the plan — perhaps they heeded King’s warning that ‘in the long-run financial institutions, like all large institutions, do depend on goodwill from the rest of society’. Here’s the video and transcript of King’s

Osborne’s coup: Mark Carney is the new Bank of England Governor

Hiring Mark Carney may just be George Osborne’s best move since becoming Chancellor. Britain badly needed a break from the failed economic consensus which still hangs around the Bank of England like a bad smell. In August, The Spectator implored the Chancellor to mount a global search. When Carney ruled himself out, I gave up hope and resigned myself to Paul Tucker, who would be likely to keep Britain on its current Faustian monetary path paved with freshly-minted banknotes. Instead, Osborne has succeeded in hiring one of the best-qualified of all the Queen’s 137 million subjects — from a country that knows a thing or two about economic crises and how

Another growth plan falters

It seems that yet another coalition growth scheme is falling flat on its face: this time, Sir Mervyn King’s ‘Funding for Lending’ brainwave. The theory was that the Bank of England would lend money at below-market rates to the financial institutions: sub-prime loans, in other words. Not without its risks: chiefly, what if the banks just use this cheap cash to lend more to their safest borrowers, rich guys with big deposits? Don’t worry, Sir Mervyn said, the Bank would monitor every month and report back. It just has, and Citi Research has chewed the results (PDF). Rather than ‘get the banks lending’ the first four weeks of Funding for

King joins Libor drama

Up to now, Sir Mervyn King has played largely a walk-on part in the Libor scandal, prompting Bob Diamond’s resignation after he warned Barclays that the regulators no longer had confidence in Diamond’s leadership of the bank. Now the Governor of the Bank of England has also been dragged into the drama after email exchanges released by the Bank revealed that he was aware of deliberate misreporting of the rate in June 2008. Timothy Geithner, who was then the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, emailed Sir Mervyn with a list of recommendations for improving Libor, one of which tackles how to ‘eliminate incentive to misreport’. The

Everybody duck! It’s macho Merv

Just as Mervyn King, as Isabel flags in her blog, is being dragged into the Libor scandal, comes a truly remarkable article from the FT headlined ‘The bank that roared’. This bank, in case you are wondering, refers to the Bank of England. The FT says the central bank – led by the good ol’ Governor – is ‘back in charge’ and showing that ‘it means business’. The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, which in past years had been taking a more ‘laissez-faire’ approach to bank funding and lending, is firmly in the saddle once again. The BoE has a ‘new attitude’ and is now ‘more muscular’. By way of

Sir Mervyn and money-fixing

Is manipulating interest rates really as shocking to the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England as they make it out to be? The Libor and Euribor fixing scandal has shown several bankers at it, yet this weekend there were suggestions that at least some of these bankers thought that the regulators, the Bank of England and even the Treasury were aware of the scam – and had a shared interest in keeping the official borrowing rate down so as not to spread panic. This reminds us what an extraordinary situation the Old Lady of Threadneedle St finds herself in. On Friday, Governor Mervyn King lambasted banks and

Of bankers and bartenders

It suits a great many people to blame the banks. The ministers (like Ed Balls) who oversaw the debt-fuelled credit bubble; the Tories (like George Osborne) who signed up to Labour’s debt-fuelled spending binge; the regulators who failed so appallingly (a global crisis but how many collapsed banks in Australia and Canada?); and Mervyn King, who oversaw this hideous asset bubble and didn’t sound the alarm. When George Osborne told the Commons that banks ‘brought our economy to its knees’ he suggested that, even now, he has not worked out what caused the crisis. The theory that wicked, greedy bonus-seeking bankers caused the crisis has been repeatedly debunked, but it’s

Meryvn has his case for more QE

Last Thursday Mervyn King said ‘the case for further monetary easing is growing’, and today’s surprise inflation figures give the Governor and his policymakers more leeway to introduce the next round of QE, probably as early as next month. Consumer price inflation fell to 2.8 per cent in May from 3.0 per cent in April, below analysts’ average forecast of a flat reading. It’s the weakest monthly inflation since November 2009, with the main contributors being falling food and oil prices. This is good news indeed, especially given that inflation has been – and still is – eroding savers’ earnings by about 8 per cent over five years. Let’s not