Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Into the abyss?

We grow nearer to the end of another decade and, yet again, a meltdown within the financial markets looms. The BBC's Robert Peston seems like one of the clearest commentators on the plunging fortunes (sic) of Northern Rock. With the Bank of England having to bail out the high-profile Newcastle-based bank, various Conservative and Lib Dem MP's have gone on record questioning the Labour government's use of taxpayers' money to bail out a private enterprise. A solid point of principle (for once) and yet, without such emergency funding, might a wider systemic failure be too extreme to contemplate in a climate where fear and panic are on the increase?

Capitalism will probably survive once again but, ironically, only because the much-maligned public sector will intervene and save all those rugged individualists and self-made titans of industry from their own faulty assumptions and arrogance-fuelled mistakes.

In another point of irony - and in the interests of full disclosure - your correspondent interviewed with Northern Rock earlier in the year for a Treasury position but was turned down. While disappointing at the time, it now looks like a godsend not to have ended up with a company that could soon join an infamous list in the history of finance and banking. There but for the grace of god and all that.

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