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Monday, 30 March 2009

What is it about Scottish bankers?

There was a time when Scottish financiers, typically fund managers, had a reputation for being, if not exactly canny, then wise if a little cautious. Always good value for visiting bankers and investors from London and New York, perhaps a day's shooting or a round of golf on a fancy course, but always a reassuring combination of polish and charm. It is only a few years since the chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland was a former Conservative minister and a scion of a Scottish gentry family with interests in one the largest brewing companies in the country.

Now this has all gone. Not only have the two largest banks been blown to smithereens (the third is run by Australians), but it seems that the Scots can no longer run a building society, an extraordinary fact given that the level of state employment in Scotland is amongst the highest in the UK and recent job losses have been much lower than in South East England, where the property market was arguably more overheated but no building societies have failed.

What on earth convinced these Scots that they could suddenly become so exuberant in their lending? Could it be that they were unable to see through the flaws in the approach of their compatriots Brown and Darling, but mostly Brown?

Perhaps they were never so wise.

2 comments:

harmonyfuture said...

Could it be that the Scottish, fired up by SNP gains and a Prime Minister, had designs on global domination. Perhaps someone had better tell Brown the plan hasn't worked!

Demetrius said...

The real problem could be risks that nobody wants to mention, and "commercial property" is the marker. There may be a very big private company out there heavily into highly leveraged commercial property that is heading to the rocks. The real trouble will lie with their other interests from which they derive their income streams. If I am right (and for once I do not want to be) this could be as nasty as it gets.