G20 End Of Term Report: B Minus, Could Do Better – See The Teacher

As I write this I have not seen details of the G20’s agreement and related events. So I’m going by soundbites and rumours that I’ve heard in the last few hours. Nevertheless, I can’t resist a few quick comments.

First, Gordon Brown has talked vaguely about only rewarding bankers for positive performance. Well, believe it or not, apart from packages paid to the likes of Fred Goodwin, that is exactly the current situation! And it is this that encourages risk. Compensation needs to be tied to maturity of contracts. And diversification within institutions needs to be encouraged. We have to align the interests of bank employees with the interests of depositors. I’m still not convinced that those in power get this yet.

I understand that mark-to-market is being relaxed in parts. I approve. I just wish that banks had been nationalized first so that the taxpayer would have benefitted from this. Again banks have “upside exposure with no downside risk” as they say in the prospectuses. For the taxpayer it is the opposite, so no change there.

And finally, they are going to be publishing a list of bad tax havens in order to shame them. Isn’t that rather like telling teenagers where to buy the cheap alcohol? At the moment we have no idea where to put our money, since once-respectable banks are no longer safe. But this time tomorrow we’ll all know exactly where to go!

I’m being harsh, you say. They mean well. Oh, yes, I’m sure they do!