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Make our banks change their tune

When Bank of England governor Mervyn King stepped into the media spotlight after the latest interest rate cut it was time to pay attention. So rarely does he assume a public profile that this had to be significant.

Or was it? King didn’t know when quantitative easing would work, but thought it probably would eventually. Thank goodness for that. Even my nine year old knows that economies are cyclical. Sometimes you get pocket money and at the moment you get none.

For the man on the street, King’s PR ploy has done little to inspire confidence. For a start, who knows what quantitative easing is? It seems to be just the latest in a long line of mysterious and complicated trading devices.

“Don’t worry, we are in a deflationary phase, completely different to Zimbabwe and Weimar Germany,” is the refrain.

But is it going to work? The government has tried rights issues, swapping assets and borrowing cash to no avail. Banks’ first instinct is to shore up their balance sheets so why will the response to quantitative easing be different?

Getting banks to lend is an essential step on the road to recovery, but what we dearly need is first-time buyers back in the chain. How are they going to be eased into homes when LTVs are stacked against them and administration fees reach four figures?

Why doesn’t the Prime Minister make lenders address this? It’s our name over the door of many of them now – let’s make it pay.


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