Public interest and the banks

From Times Online: July 11 2009

Sir,

Vince Cable is absolutely right to remind us that we, as taxpayers, are the masters of the banks we have bailed out from the brink of insolvency (We’re the masters of the banking universe, July 8). And we agree that the new financial architecture cannot just be a modified form of the old high-risk structures that led to the near-collapse of the entire sector.

But the critical debate needed is not just how the government runs publicly-owned banks, but to what end.

The most glaring example of why this debate is needed is the case of RBS, now 70 per cent owned by the taxpayer. Last week, campaigners launched a legal case against the Treasury for refusing to consider the climate change and human rights impacts of RBS’s financing of coal, oil and gas companies and projects around the world.

This case points to a wider lack of consideration by HMT about how our money is being used to back investments that run against the public interest – including the government’s own policy and expenditure targets. Until the Treasury gets its own investment house in order by ensuring that bailed-out banks stop investing in socially and environmentally damaging projects, it is hard to foresee any progress towards a more stable and sustainable financial system.

Sincerely,

Andrew Simms, policy director nef (the new economics foundation)

Ann Pettifor, Campaigns Director, Operation Noah

Caroline Lucas, MEP

Colin Hines, Convener, Green New Deal Group

Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive, Friends of the Earth Scotland

Fr Frank Nally SSC, Missionary Society of St Columban

Helena Paul, EcoNexus

Jeni Mackay, Director, Scottish Education and Action for Development

Johan Frijns, BankTrack

Miles Litvinoff, Co-ordinator, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility

Pete Myers, Enough’s Enough and onehundredmonths.org

Richard Murphy, Tax Research LLP

Stephen Spratt, Chief Economist nef (the new economics foundation)

Tom Griffiths, Responsible Finance Coordinator, Forest Peoples Programme

Tony Juniper, Campaigner and Writer

Submitted on behalf of the group by:

nef (the new economics foundation)
3 Jonathan Street, London SE11 5NH

t: 020 7820 6357

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2 comments to Public interest and the banks

  • Superb. We need more of this. Sign me up.

  • Ron Bishop

    Well said-after all our money equals our labour-its our hard work and productiveness that creates the wealth.
    The bankers are the

    greasy, self seeking middle men-cut them out completely-use credit unions and community banks.
    Capitalism raw and ugly will destroy us all if we

    don’t wake up-and soon!!

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