The other night, when I had the TV on, I saw that one of the programmes, featuring the BBC top economics and business correspondent, Robert Peston, was all about the financial panic of recent years. Oh dear, I thought, I can just imagine the usual line about how it was all the fault of greedy bankers, insufficient regulation, “unregulated laissez faire capitalism”, and on and on. Well, not quite. Yes, some of those elements were there, but there was also quite a lot of sophisticated explanation of how a combination of forces – leverage, “too big to fail bailout protection, over-confidence in newfangled ideas of risk management and misalignment of incentives for bankers – combined to create the storm. I would have liked to see more focus on the role of ultra-low central bank interest rates in creating the crisis, as well as government intervention in the housing market and through deposit insurance, but to be fair, this was mentioned, several times. There was little in the show with which someone like Kevin Dowd, recently referred to here, would dispute, although I imagine Kevin might want to make more about the vexed issue of ownership of banks and limited liability.
And about three-quarters of the way into the show was Toby Baxendale, founder of the Cobden Centre, the organisation founded last year to flag up the problems caused by central banking fiat money, and which sets out alternative ideas, such as the possibility of giving depositors in no-notice cash accounts the right to demand that their cash is properly looked after, not lent out for months in a risky play. (Yup, it is that pesky fractional reserve banking issue again). Toby was very forceful and his views were treated respectfully by Peston. There was no sneering.
In short, this was and is a pretty good programme as far as the MSM goes. I give it about 8 out of 10. Yes, I am not drunk.