Thursday, 28 June 2012

Go to jail. Do not pass 'Go'. Do not pick up £200

So let me get this right. Barclays Bank has been found to have been fiddling the LIBOR figures. Now my limited understanding of LIBOR is that it's the interest rate charged between banks as they lend each other money. A figure that changes daily. So if Barclays were fiddling it they can't have been doing it alone. The other banks trading with Barclays must have been fiddling too, knowingly or unknowingly.

The trouble is that banks and banking are all so complex now. It's not savings accounts, mortgages and chequebooks any more. It's all derivitives, hedge funds and commodities. Legalised gambling. Gambling with the money we trust them to look after for us.

I can put up with a bank giving me 0.5% on my savings as they make 6% on my money because I have to. There isn't much choice. Having said that I did leave one of the 'Big Four' for The Co-Operative a couple of years back.

The only time we ever see problems with the system are when the banks get caught out like this. The PM has come out and promised 'serious questions', Bob Diamond has given up his bonus. How magnanimous. Trouble is, this all sounds like the start of a slap on the wrist and sweep it under the carpet move.

The Government can't directly make Barclays change but we are not too far away from having two national banks. The Government should step in and make Lloyds open their books to scrutiny. Punish anything and everything, force the banking market to change. It was an old saying that it's best to hurt a man in his wallet. This won't work with the banks. They don't care if their share prices tumble.  They're all subsidised and practically worthless anyway.

The FSA are scrabbling around the edges. The Government are near silent bar soundbites and sniping. This is unbelievable. In it's simplest form this was fraud. Barclays fiddled LIBOR to make their balance sheet look sexier so they could borrow more and make more money. Fraud, plain and simple. Fraud is a crime. The US Department of Justice are investigating so why can't we. I don't want Bob Diamond to resign. I want him (and his cronies) behind bars.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.