The current furore and associated mass breast-beating over Barclays recent fine by the UK and USA regulatory bodies serve only to emphasise the need for a fresh – nay radical – look at our banking structures in the UK.
It cannot be right that in the current economic climate we continue to deploy vast sums of taxpayers money – destined to energise British business – through the tender clutches of private-owned commercial banks; most have little or no empathy or understanding of the industrial sectors they serve, judge businesses only off the back of complex theoretical credit risk models, and whose personal and collective behaviours do not appear to be aligned with the values their company ethos espouse.
Let us decide strategically which industries we – as a nation – will seek to build our economic recovery and future prosperity upon. I would expect to see high-technology enterprises to the forefront – because we are good at it; in contrast I regret to say that I would probably not expect to see agriculture being backed, such is the devastation and level of public subsidy that have been visited upon our farmers in recent years.
Then let us create a purpose-built public sector bank for each strategic sector we choose to support. These banks – whose only focus would be corporate banking and investment – would be staffed by a small number of commercially astute ‘bankers’ – whose primary skill set and experience is derived from the sector they support, and whose secondary skill set is ‘investment banking’. These banks would be built upon the public funds we currently disburse through our private-owned commercial banks and would lend money intelligently at competitive rates, and for durations that make economic sense. In part, these banks would reflect aspects of the current German banking system which, despite some of the structural flaws of the ‘’Landesbanken’ that result in poor profitability and poor revenue generation, have nonetheless fuelled Germany’s economic recovery in recent years.
In this way, British business would be allowed to recover and prosper through intelligent, empathetic decision-making in a climate that is less about short-term survival and all about medium to long-term investment and prosperity.