Diamonds are not forever

How does the fourth-biggest bank in the world, employing 140,000, and with assets of $2,331,943,000,000, get into such a mess? As of now, it is apparently being headed by a man who resigned on Monday, because the guy who resigned today, Tuesday, is hors de combat.

Craig Darke, for City AM, rightly wonders at the vagaries of the Stock Market:

As Barclays’ shares bounced back yesterday, this served as an important reminder to retail traders that the markets are not rational and it is easy to get your fingers burned. Anybody set up to take a short position on the FTSE open would have been hurt as the bank went on to be one of the strongest performers of the London session – up 3.4 per cent on the day to finish at 168.4p. But why? The public may have received its sacrificial offering in the form of chairman Marcus Agius’s resignation – and the move may have taken some pressure of chief executive Bob Diamond, who is due to testify to the Treasury select committee on Wednesday – but this does not change the fundamentals of the stock. Nor does it affect last week’s £290m fine for abusing the BBA Libor estimated interest rate, or the possibility of more heads tumbling. 

“Not rational”: an expression which is hardly “blinding with science”. It must qualify as one of the great mealy-mouthings about a casino dignified as a stock exchange. In a decent world Darke would be wrong with his next sentence:

Although we’ve been spared a Leveson-type public enquiry, with Hugh Grant grilling Bob Diamond about the effects of a shifted Libor quote on a turbo swap position there will be a parliamentary inquiry into the Libor scandal.

At least Hugh Grant, MA (Oxon), communicates in decent English: “a shifted Libor quote” is baffling with bullshit.

As for “the possibility of more heads tumbling”, one bod who should be checking his collar connection ought to be Mervyn King, who has been at the boardroom table of the Bank of England since the early 1990s. If all this doesn’t engulf that most political of bankers, then his deputy, Paul Tucker, must be sweating a trifle, especially as the BBC and other reptiles have sniffed what must have been going on.  After Leveson, “death by email” seems to be mortality à la mode. Kicking up the dust, seeking to involve Balls, Miliband, Shriti Vadera, Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh ‘n’ all, is mere distraction tactics. The real villains must be in, or well-known around Threadneedle Street.

One appreciates that Cameron, son, grandson and great-grandson of stockbrokers (Panmure Gordon), may want the dirty washing laundered “in house”. Jane and Joe Public, particularly when they spot that their mortgage was manipulated by the Libor scandal, might not be so forgiving and demand something a trifle more legal and above-the-counter. Either way, Cameron and his paper-hanging “submarine” Chancellor are the losers.

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Filed under banking, BBC, City AM, Daily Mail, David Cameron, economy, George Osborne, Law, Leveson, sleaze.

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