The week before Xmas and the world goes doolally – except that is for astute politicians who know that this is an ideal time to slide things under the wire.
Next week David Cameron and George Osborne have a meeting with the heads of the banks to discuss bankers’ bonuses and lending to business – or the lack of it. We need to keep a close eye on this meeting. The outcome will be a very clear indicator as to whether the coalition have the bottle to carry through their much trumpeted banking reforms or if they have been knobbled by the bankers.
On the agenda, bonuses and business lending. So, what’s the score? Well, despite everything, bankers remain unrepentant. As far as bonuses are concerned, between them the banks have £7 billion to distribute, and rumour has it that they intend go ahead whatever Cameron or Osborne say. Dave and his chum are going to get the bankers’ finger on this one, I fear.
However, when it comes to lending to business banks have been found out. They’ve been more than a little economical with the truth. As the Bank of England pointed out in their latest quarterly report, banks have not been lending to business, especially small business. Their lending books have been closed – unless you are prepared to pay usurious rates. Cameron and Osborne need to get really angry about this. I fear they won’t and they’ll be fed a load of meaningless promises – again. I’m sure Robert Peston will have the best take on this.
The other important matter due to surface next week is Ofcom’s decision on BSkyB. Should it refer Rupert Murdoch’s request to be allowed to purchase the remainder of BSkyB’s shares to the Competition Commission or not? If Ofcom don’t decide to refer his request then there is something seriously amiss. I would hesitate to infer that Ofcom could be knobbled, but they have been under a lot of direct and indirect pressure from some very interesting quarters. The case against Murdoch is overwhelming. At stake is plurality of the British media. We need to be on our guard and prepared to ask some serious questions if Murdoch is allowed to proceed.
Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open…despite the sore head.