The British House of Commons Treasury Committee released a report today taking U.K. bankers and regulators to the woodshed. The roots of the financial crisis in Great Britain seems to be essentially the same as that of the U.S. – from the beginning of the report (boldface mine):
The origins of the banking crisis were many and varied, including low real interest rates, a search for yield, apparent excess liquidity and a misplaced faith in financial innovation. These ingredients combined to create an environment rich in overconfidence, over-optimism and the stifling of contrary opinions. Notwithstanding this febrile environment, some of the banks have been the principal authors of their own demise. The culture within parts of British banking has increasingly been one of risk taking leading to the meltdown that we have witnessed. Bankers have made an
astonishing mess of the financial system. However, this was a failure not only within individual banks but also of the supervisory system designed to protect the public from systemic risk.
Much of the report is a chronicle of the U.K. government response to the crisis detailing bailouts of the likes of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays. The Treasury Committee did have some things to say about the future of banking and finance in the U.K., including:
- The separation of commercial and investment banking is very much a “live issue.”
- The potential for new regulation imposing rules on financial institutions keeping a greater proportion of the loans they originate on their own books.
- Potential new regulations over complex financial derivatives calling for their more transparent trade in exchanges and clearinghouses.
- General statement on the well-deserved lack of trust by consumers in the financial system and a call for generally more supervision.
Click PDF Icon for Full Report: House of Commons Treasury Committee, Banking Crisis – Dealing with the Failure of the U.K. Banks
- Travelers told to avoid Mexico – New York Times
International fears of a pandemic rose Monday as the number of people killed by the swine flu in Mexico climbed to 149. At least four other countries have confirmed cases and many others have stepped up testing as well as issuing advisories about traveling to Mexico and the United States.
By the afternoon, the World Health Organization had raised its threat level of a pandemic alert, and markets in Europe and Asia had been unnerved by the concerns.
In raising its threat level to 4 from 3, a decision likely to prompt more travel warnings, the W.H.O. emphasized that “a pandemic is not considered inevitable.” But it acknowledged that containment of swine flu now moot, and mitigation is its main concern. “The situation is fluid and will continue to evolve,” it said in a statement.
- NYC cases hit 28 – New York Post
- Mexico counts 149 dead from flu – Reuters
- First confirmed cases in Britain and Spain – Washington Post
- Swine Flu fears depress markets - Wall Street Journal
Conspiracy theorists and professional and amateur UFO researchers alike will be glued to computer screens for the next few days pouring over the latest release of UFO files from the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
The files are housed at the U.K.’s National Archives. It appears the files will only be free for download for a month:
Part of a three-year project by the Ministry of Defence, this instalment features seven files, all available to download for free for a month from The National Archives’ dedicated website: nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos. The site provides a wealth of useful material, including a podcast by UFO expert Dr David Clarke.
When clicking on a link to 2008 file releases and navigating further to the actual files, it does appear the Archives intends to someday charge for downloading the files. Visitors are taken to a site where prices are listed for downloads, however the prices on files from December are £0.