We don't mind people disagreeing with us, indeed we think that's rather normal. We do rather object when people seem to pull in their facts from some alternate reality. As with Owen Jones here telling us about the banking system:
Sometimes the case for a policy is as overwhelming as the level of ridicule it will get from the punditocracy. The nationalisation of Britain’s failed banking industry – the sector responsible for most of our country’s current ills – is one such example.
In support of the obviousness of this idea we are given:
No other industry enjoys the same protection. They are “too big to fail”, which means they benefit from an implicit subsidy – worth £6bn in 2015.
Some are indeed too big to fail. Which is why they are charged the bank levy, specifically and exactly a fee for the implicit subsidy they receive as a result. Which is why they've been shrinking themselves too, just as we would like.
State-backed deposit insurance of up to £85,000 per consumer is another de facto mass public subsidy.
Again, they are charged for this, paying what amounts to an insurance premium, just as they should do.
As the New Economics Foundation says, it is commercial banks who are now responsible for creating the vast majority of money in economies like the UK, a source of vast profit. This is called “seigniorage” and – as the foundation puts it – it represents a “hidden annual subsidy” of £23bn a year, or nearly three-quarters of the banks’ after-tax profits.
As ever when the nef says something about economics they get it wrong. What they've measured is not the effects of seigniorage but of the float. Our current accounts tend not to pay interest. But the aggregate of all the money in them is lent out by the banks at interest. That's the float and it does indeed make money for the banks. It's simply nothing to do with credit or money creation.
By contrast, foreign publicly owned banks are self-evident successes. Take Germany: KFW, the government-owned development bank, is crucial in developing national infrastructure as well as the renewable energy revolution. On a regional level, state-owned Landesbanken are responsible for industrial strategy. Then at the most local level, there are Sparkassen: they focus on developing relationships with local businesses and consumers. They’re not beholden to shareholders – instead, they have a stakeholder model, focused on helping local economies – indeed, their capital has to remain in local communities.
The German banking crisis was, by some measures at least, larger as a percentage of GDP than the British. And it included many of those more local institutions as well who seemed to end up with very much more than their fair share of the lesser dross of the American mortgage market.
A management board would run the network day to day, but a board of trustees would ensure the bank was accountable to the broader economy and customers, not shareholders.
A third would be elected by workers, a third by local authorities and a third by local stakeholders. The mandate of each local bank would be to promote local economies – not least their small businesses – rather than the City of London. Here is a model of democratic ownership that can, in time, be extended to the rest of the economy.
Apparently that's how we should do it instead. But we are also told this:
Would Brexit, Donald Trump, or the gathering demands for Catalonia to secede from crisis-ridden Spain have happened without the financial collapse?
Ah, yes, crisis ridden Spain. Where the cajas, all run on local grounds, by local politicians, unions, stakeholders, in near unison went bust as a result of the political and self-dealing among politicians, unions and stakeholders?
We really don't mind that Jones has a different vision of how the world should be but we'd really prefer a bit of that facts are sacred stuff so that we do get at least a modicum of interaction between the lofty plans and reality.