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July 26, 2013

It’s ‘bankers know best’ all over again – with added irony

Sir, The financial crisis is laced with ironies. In the run-up to catastrophe, bankers argued that, when it came to regulation, “less was more”. Government believed them. Bankers claimed that their risk management prowess made society safer. Governments applauded. Meanwhile, the British Bankers’ Association, the industry’s leading advocate for self-regulation, was blissfully ignorant of the biggest market manipulation in financial history – Libor, the process for which the BBA was responsible. Five years on, we now have bankers and their government cheerleaders insisting that regulators back off. Once again, bankers know best. Their risk management prowess is much improved. Oh, and the central bankers who bailed out the financial system and who are working hard to forestall a repeat are now labelled “jihadists” and the “capital Taliban”.

Such name-calling is the ultimate irony and a new low in behaviour. How on earth can bankers, much less our public representatives, apply the terrorist moniker to well-intentioned public servants? Where is the sense of decency, proportion and statesmanlike conduct for which we wait in vain? And is it not the ultimate irony that the banking fraternity that happily applies the term includes among its membership the very institutions that facilitated payments to actual terrorists and violent drug dealers?

Robert Jenkins, Past member, Financial Policy Committee

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Read the full Financial Times letter to the editor here

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