In the Firing Line

It’s very strange how you seldom have a negative feeling about somebody not backed by a close knowledge of his abilities nor his track record, but simply because of an inner gut mechanism often hard to explain.

A case in point to raise the alarm bells for me was the way Mark Carney was catapulted by George Osborne to take the helm at the Bank of England.

I had serious reservations about appointing a man from beyond our shores to bring stability to our banking system where banks were behaving disgracefully, paying themselves large bonuses – which they still do – at a time when world economies are in crisis. And to top it all, the inability so far of the PM and his shifty chancellor to make any worthwhile appointments which did not prove calamitous.

But be that as it may. ‘The rock star governor,’ as he is sometimes billed, revealed his pricklier side at a Bundesbank symposium in Frankfurt last week where he came under attack, and rightly so, from savers and insurers over his ultra-low interest policy. Ross Altman, pensions expert and a former director-general of Saga, may have accused the Bank of ‘taking far more money from peoples’ pensions than Robert Maxwell ever did’, but it was Nikolaus Bomhard, Chairman of the Board of Management of Munich Re, who caught Mr Carney in properly cantankerous form.

Low rates were placing an enormous burden on the insurance industry, the insurance boss said, adding: ‘Our life is getting more miserable by the year.’ Rather than flash his 100-watt Hollywood smile and bat the observation aside, a tactic that has worked wonders in front of British MPs, Mr Carney rounded on Mr Bomhard: ‘The idea that monetary policy would be adjusted so that your capital base would be better off is really a remarkable statement,’ he snapped.

It is not the first time that the governor has let rip. Headlining on a panel in Davos in January last year after being unveiled as the new governor, but before starting in the job, Mr Carney turned on Angel Gurria, Secretary General of  OECD, for accusing Japan of debasing its currency. ‘This cannot stand,’ he muttered into the microphone, staring down Mr Gurria all the while, ‘that’s not the policy.’

Perhaps in the UK the governor can easily control his interlocutors, for in his view we might have turned docile and witless. Who knows? However, his absurd policy of keeping interest so low will in the long term do us more harm than good. The rich are getting richer under this coalition government and the middle classes and the poor are feeling the brunt of a misguided policy that robs the old and infirm of their few savings and makes their short remaining life intolerable.

I wonder who’s playing second fiddle to whom?

The chancellor and the governor be warned! The Conservative Party of late has become unrecognisable. Run by a motley of Eton-like public schoolboys, they are lording it at the moment as the settling of scores will soon be upon us. The nightmarish general election does not bode well for any of the main parties, certainly not for the Conservatives. I dare not think of the outcome.

If the Labour Party was to attain power the deluge which we had recently will be child’s play compared to what we can expect from this ideological lot who can’t tell the difference between right and wrong. God save us from their clutches.

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