Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bloomberg in London

Last night I was in the audience to hear the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. Much of his speech and the questions, was dominated by the financial crisis currently engulfing both cities. Bloomberg;'s view is that there is no point trying to apportion blame when we should be working to solve the problem, however he did identify some practices which should not have been allowed to happen.

The selling on of debt, so that a creditor would eventually find they were owed by an organisation with no means to pay, was identified as a key problem. Likewise the practice of credit referencing agencies also providing consultancy on how to improve ratings to the same customers, was seen as a clash of interest. It's all too obvious in hindsight and I find it amazing that financial experts and supposedly bright - and well rewarded - professionals failed to spot these weaknesses developing.

Sack the managers, let the shareholders fall, but protect the customers, was Bloomberg's view.

The question of policing was also raised. Bloomberg has the power to hire and fire the police commissioner in New York and he was clear that London's Mayor should have the same power. There has been a lot of griping about 'politicising the police' lately, but of course it is the same people who want to bring 'democratic accountability' to the Met, and the two positions conflict because democracy cannot exist without politics.

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