Gordon Brown Fesses to His Bank Deregulation

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/15/2010 12:02:00 AM
Hundreds of billions of pounds and a currently quantitatively eased to the point of severely diminished value, we now have a semi-mea culpa from the UK's fearless leader Gordon Brown as he girds for UK general elections scheduled for 6 May 2010. You can get up to date information from our LSE elections blog if you're interested in tracking its progress. Potentially notable are his (a) admission of caving in to industry demands for less regulation--in which primary responsibility for the debacle still lies with the bankers; (b) acknowledgement that his own deregulation played a part in the British mess instead of it being an American blowback; and (c) idea that Britain should consider its regulations more independently of what other countries do.

Elections aside, does it really matter now that the damage has been done? From Auntie:
Gordon Brown: "I have been saying since the crisis started that we didn't have enough global regulation." Gordon Brown has admitted he made a mistake in not introducing tougher bank regulation when he was chancellor.

The PM, chancellor from 1997 to 2007, said that in the 1990s the banks had all been calling for less regulation. "And actually the truth is that globally and nationally we should have been regulating them more," he said in an interview on ITV1's Tonight.

The Conservatives said Mr Brown had made a "big mistake", while the Lib Dems said his words were "not enough". The prime minister said he should have put the "whole public interest" before the banks but had "learnt" from the experience.

Mr Brown said: "In the 1990s, the banks, they all came to us and said, 'Look, we don't want to be regulated, we want to be free of regulation'...All the complaints I was getting from people was, 'Look you're regulating them too much'. And actually the truth is that globally and nationally we should have been regulating them more," he added. "So I've learnt from that. So you don't listen to the industry when they say, 'This is good for us'. You've got to talk about the whole public interest."

Schools Secretary Ed Balls, who worked with Gordon Brown when he was chancellor, said both had previously admitted they should have done more to control the financial sector. At Labour's morning press conference he said: "In retrospect we should have been tougher with some of the investment banks which did not know the risks they were running. This was a problem for governments around the world."

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson added: "Regulation should have been more intrusive and the regulatory practice of the FSA [Financial Services Authority] should have kept pace with the fast-changing developments in the financial services sector."

BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg said although the prime minister has previously said, in an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr in September 2009, that regulation should have been tougher around the world - this time he has been more explicit about the role it should have taken in the UK.

Conservative leader David Cameron said: "This is a big moment because Gordon Brown told us two things: he said this all came from America and he said his judgment was right in every regard. "He is now saying that those two things are not true, that there were big mistakes made here in Britain in the regulatory system that he designed. And I'm glad that he's finally admitted that some of this was made in Britain, by him."

Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said: "It's not enough just to hold your hands up and say sorry without having a plan for making sure that the same thing doesn't happen again." Mr Brown also admitted, as he has done previously, that the decision to scrap the 10 pence rate of tax had been a mistake. He said: "I've learnt a lot from that, I learn all the time."
OTOH, I highly doubt whether the Conservatives would have slowed the pace of deregulation had they been in charge since 1997. More so than New Labour, Conservatives are quite Atlanticist. If you want someone who wouldn't have put up with this nonsense, the Liberal Democrats' Vince Cable stands out as a person of unquestioned integrity. Quoth he:
I don’t claim to have anticipated all aspects of this crisis but my colleagues and I were right on some essentials: campaigning against the disastrous demutualisation of building societies, a product of the Tory era of bank deregulation; taking up, from 2000, the warnings from the Cruickshank Report that banks should not be allowed simply to maximise profit when dependent on taxpayer guarantees; and warning, well over five years ago, about the dangerous build up in the property bubble and the massive mortgage borrowing which sustained it.
If I could turn back time; if I could find a way...