I suppose it had to start sometime around now – the excuses, the ‘no one could have seen it coming’ tosh from the bankers and their mates. Here is the learned opinion of Howard Davies. Sir Howard is Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science and one-time Chairman of the Financial Services Authority, the UK’s financial regulator.
Some people saw it all coming, of course. The celebrated commentator Harry
Hindsight… has trenchantly argued that any fool could have seen that the credit expansion would end in tears, that regulators should have seen the trouble coming and headed it off at the pass. He would certainly have done so himself – though a diligent Google search has failed to unearth any warnings he personally gave.
I appreciate that a director of the London School of Economics is a busy man. According to his resume on the Morgan Stanley website,
Sir Howard J. Davies has been a director [of Morgan Stanley] since 2004. He has been Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science since September 2003. Sir Howard served as Chairman and Chief Executive of the U.K. Financial Services Authority (1997-2003), Deputy Governor of the Bank of England (1995-1997) and Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (1992-1995). From 1987 to 1992 he was Controller (CEO) of the U.K. Audit Commission.
So you think he’d have noticed. Nevertheless, Sir Howard really can’t have been paying much attention over the last decade or so. Not only have the ‘toxic assets’ that are currently poisoning the world’s financial systems been a routine topic of conversation for quite a few years now, but a number of related scams (this time wholly to the financial sector’s benefit) have also been paraded across the public’s screens. What about all those mis-selling scams? What about the Great Savings + Loan Scandal of the early 90s?
As for Sir Howard’s tenure at Morgan Stanley, I can only assume he was brought in to help clear up the great stink of corruption that followed the enormous scam that surrounded the investment banks and cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to the clients they misled – Morgan Stanley included.
The fact is, this is only different because this time the financial sector have been so stupid (or irresponsible – or criminal) that they have collectively shot themselves in the foot – if not worse. Otherwise it’s business as usual.