|This week the Adam Smith Institute hosted a lunch for politicians, economists and journalists to discuss the policy implications of the financial crisis. John Redwood MP led off with 10-minutes giving his own perspective, before we opened things up to general discussion. As we worked through the agenda, a number of interesting points emerged.
For instance, there was general agreement on the need to return to simple, prudential supervision based on cash and capital requirements, instead of the FSA's complex, process-driven approach (which has done more harm than good). It was also felt that responsibility for that supervision should probably rest with the Bank of England, who should also oversee government debt management once again. In other words, Gordon Brown's tri-partite regulatory structure should be scrapped. The case for a 'bad bank' for toxic debt was dismissed as weak (at best), while the idea of EU or global financial regulation proved distinctly unpopular.
One very interesting theme to emerge was the need for a more competitive banking sector in the UK – both so that banks do not become 'too big to fail', and so that customers get a better deal. Some people clearly thought the high street banks were exhibiting the characteristics of a cartel. Breaking up the government-owned megabanks – Lloyds TSB/HBOS and RBS – was suggested as a good way to start.