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Sir James is just the whipping boy

I had been puzzled how Sir James Crosby, who collected a gong and then went on to become deputy chairman of the Financial Services Authority and was commissioned by the chancellor to rehabilitate the mortgage market, escaped the flak following the fall of his former financial empire.

After all as chief executive of HBOS he had been the principle architect of an expansionist business strategy that had left the group woefully reliant on wholesale funding and exposed to the vagrancies of the property market.

So it seemed not only unfair but ironic that Andy Hornby, his prot? and successor, became the fall guy when the Brown stuff (the capital B is deliberate) hit the fan. Stack them high and sell them cheap might have been his mantra but that’s what Sir James had brought in Asda-man to do.

Now of course the Treasury Select Committee has done its work. The problem is that it is all too easy to be wise after the event. What if Sir James had reined back mortgage lending in 2003 or 2004?

There was no shortage of mortgage funds in those days so others would have taken up the slack, leaving the City to judge HBOS as being asleep on the job.

It’s certainly hard to judge when to jump off a bandwagon and I had thought that Sir James got it exactly right.

It had seemed that he left HBOS just in time. But is it his past that has now caught up with him or the slowness of our government to recognise the scale of the financial crisis that brought about his downfall?


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