Use the system for the common good - by David Callam
25th September 2008
... Comments

THE INTRICACIES of the present economic maelstrom are quite beyond me.

But I do have the uncomfortable feeling that unless we're all very careful we're about to be sacrificed on the altar of big money.

If I understand the rescue proposals correctly, the bankers who got us into this mess are continuing to pocket their multi-million pound bonuses while the rest of us mortgage our children's futures to pay for their mistakes.

Spiv is a rather old-fashioned term of abuse, but it does seem particularly relevant in this case. My notion of a spiv is the sharp-suited Private Walker from the television comedy Dad's Army - a man who could get you almost anything providing the price was right and you didn't ask too many questions.

His patter is very similar to the kind of conversations I have overheard in City of London coffee shops. Now the deals have gone sour these greedy gamblers, like their counterparts in suburban betting shops, are looking for a soft touch to bail them out.

And they think they've found one, as processions of senior bankers - none of whom apparently foresaw this disaster - line up to tell us that we must make this sacrifice if the world is to avoid financial Armageddon.

I accept that we need to do something, but I suggest we should remember - as if we need reminding - that under-pricing risk is a very dangerous game.

We should structure any financial package as part equity - but not a majority holding - and part loan - offered at an interest rate that reflects current risk.

I believe The Treasury should appoint board members on our behalf - not civil servants, but prudent bankers who are still trusted by the international money markets - and that we should retain our interest long enough to recover, with suitable interest, all the money we have already spent propping up the markets.

Indeed, if the markets recover well and start to make healthy profits once more, we should seriously consider staying there and using our gains to support such things as state pensions, public education and the National Health Service.

Croydon Eye is a weekly commentary written exclusively for The Best of Croydon by David Callam and posted in the blog section every Thursday.

David Callam is a freelance journalist and the former business editor of The Croydon Advertiser. For more examples of his work and to see what he could do for your business please visit

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