Thursday, 20 November 2008

Labour, Tories, Lib Dems: In the same hole and still digging

At PMQs we had all the big three turds leaders pontificating as to how they could convince the banks to lend as the politicians see fit. They are deluding themselves. The banks have their money now, so unless it was written in ink on the deal, the politicians can go hang. Banks need cash to maintain their reserves and repay obligations to other entities that are coming out of the woodwork, so they thumb their noses.

We now have a case of the Great Protector's New Clothes. Gordon struts around in his new weave and the crowd of politicians who all bought into it have to keep up the pretence. They cannot bring themselves to cry foul as it would explode their own position and the conceit that their bailout would not have these unintended consequences. They are like a home owner who has paid a builder for a new extension up front, only to find the builder has dug the foundations, knocked out the back wall and buggered off to another site to begin a new job. The rain is falling, the wind is blowing and the garden is a useless quagmire.

But this suits Gordon right down to the ground. He has his consensus and he will now get all party support for yet more control and nationalisation. More regulation. This closet Marxist is utterly unreformed. Guardianistas are all squirming, moist with anticipation at the prospect of a capitalist meltdown that can bring forward their Fabian dreams of an oppressed, emasculated and dispossessed lumpenproletariat dependent on the State run by themselves, the new elite.

The LibDems we always knew were "a gone case" to use the vernacular. The Tories have shown themselves to be lacking in their true convictions. They should have spoken up to let the bad debts work themselves out. We would have had one or two bank failures. Northern Rock and HBoS, likely. Maybe not even HBoS, as the Northern Rock collapse may have prompted HBoS to have got its house in order months before. That is the point. Gordon blinked first, so the banks knew he was a loser.

That would not be a problem if it were not for the fact that Gordon can use the force of law to ensure we are all losers too.

How Anatole Kaletsky can say the following in the Times today:
The good news for the world economy is that Mr Brown has become a leader of global stature, filling the policy vacuum created by the clueless dithering of the Bush Administration and the surprising failure of Barack Obama to step into the breach.
is beyond me. Brown is a disaster. A dysfunctional. Cameron has power as his goal but not backed up by principle. Power comes first, so he sacrificed principle and was swept along. Only a few weeks later and he has been painted into a corner and Gordon Brown is holding the brush.

Oh how we cried.

The Libertarian Party would not have intervened. Northern Rock would have gone to the wall and the Board would have had their comeuppance. The lesson would have been stark. The other banks would have either adjusted and dug defences or gone to the wall. The result would have been short sharp and over with.

We now have 4+ years of recession, the prospect of a 1 term Tory government. Can the Libertarian Party be ready by 2016/7? I hope so, but given the behaviour of the Tories, the EU might well have outlawed any party that does not swear allegiance to the EU and placed almost all policy and legislation beyond the remit of Westminster.

Something tells me that if the Tories try that, it will be they who experience that Romanian feeling...


Mark Wadsworth said...


That's the point, neither NR nor B&B would have 'gone to the wall'. They would have gone to their bondholders and other creditors, explained the situation and would have been recapitalised, albeit reluctantly, via a debt for equity swap.


Roger Thornhill said...

If only it were so simple, but fine either way. The point still holds, the lesson would have been learnt.

Your stance then, Mark, is that NR would have been able to recapitalise. So the question is why they did not. Is it because, like BoS, there was emotional blackmail and brinkmanship, praps?

Mark Wadsworth said...

They didn't because management don't like 'fessing up to investors that they have messed up (and being fired on the spot); not when the alternative is a cushy existence as management of a state-backed risk-free enterprise.

I never bothered doing the numbers for NR but applied to B&B, a debt-for-equity-swap would have looked like this.

Don't forget that the main beneficiaries of the bail outs were bond-holders who will now be repaid in full, rather than taking a 20% 'haircut'.

Roger Thornhill said...

Not sure if I understand the balance sheet - what happens to the change in share equity - surely that is a liability?

Still, the bail out was wrong. You have one way which would certainly appear better than the clunking fister.