Archbishops slam short sellers

Two senior clerics have attacked short sellers and the wider banking sector for their role in bringing about the financial crisis.

In a speech to delegates at the Worshipful Company of International Bankers’ annual dinner last night Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, says: “The share value of a bank is no longer dependent on the strength of its performance, but rather on the willingness of the government to bail it out.”

He adds: “Those who made £190m deliberately underselling the shares of HBOS in spite of a very strong capital base, and drove it into the arms of Lloyds TSB are clearly bank robbers and asset strippers.”

The sentiment was echoed in an article for The Spectator magazine by Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Williams says: “It is no use pretending that the financial world can maintain indefinitely the degree of exemption from scrutiny and regulation that it has got used to.

“The question is not how to choose between total control and total deregulation, but how to identify the points and practices where social risk becomes unacceptably high.

He adds: “The banning of short selling is an example of just such a judgment. Governments should not lose their nerve as they look to identify a few more targets.”