A PR Crisis For The Banking Industry (Again)
There was an excellent documentary on BBC 2 last night – The Decade the Rich Won. It clearly explained what happened to all that QE money that was spaffed about after the financial crisis. Short answer: It made rich people richer and otherwise had very little effect other than making lots of folk so cross they voted for Brexit.
There were some good admissions of guilt from Mervyn King and Nick Clegg. And hilarious / justifications for getting it wrong from George Osborne (ok editor, hopeless Chancellor). Osborne is still in denial on the Austerity policies he pushed, continuing to insist they were somehow vital attempts to cut borrowing. Since the national debt ballooned under him you might think he should at least put a sock in it, but self-doubt isn’t one of his things.
What the banks did with that QE money they were supposed to lend out to ordinary people and small firms is one of the scandals of our age (they kept it, mostly). The banks did rather better in the latest crisis, moving quickly to chuck government Covid loans around to make sure we remained fed and housed.
One banker described the process as similar to inventing a national plumbing system overnight. And you can’t do that without springing some leaks. Fair play, it worked. When it counted most, our banking system responded.
There is the small issue of Covid fraud, something that was a matter of inevitability given the speed with which money was distributed. Asked about this on Sky News the other day, Alison Rose of NatWest said the government was urging them to get money out quickly, and that potential fraud was a secondary consideration at best.
Yesterday, the FT reported that the banks “fear their reputation could be unfairly tarnished over accusations that they handed out billions to fraudsters”.
Lord Agnew, the minister responsible for counter fraud who resigned, accused officials at the Treasury, the British Business Bank and elsewhere of “schoolboy errors” and “woeful” oversight. It seems highly likely that at least some of that mud sticks to the banks.
I’m not sure them saying they just did what they were told is going to cut it. Anyway, they still owe us from last time.
Google is scrapping its original plans to block third-party cookies in favour of a new ad system called Topics.
Is this good? It doesn’t sound it.
This commentary here from Acquia suggests not.
Tom Bianchi says: “Google’s latest pivot reflects the fact that the company finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, demand for consumer privacy requires the company to adopt a cookieless approach, but the advertising industry makes an equally strong case that any proposals must not entrench the search giant’s dominance over online advertising.”