The lesson of 1932

Prospect Magazine

The lesson of 1932

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Banks are lending to other financial corporations but not to business. The Bank of England must buy bonds

The second bailout for British banks was dead on arrival. The markets greeted the 19th January announcement with sharp falls in both bank shares and sterling. Investors fretted over the rapid deterioration in public finances. They should have worried more about the faulty logic underpinning the scheme.

The assumption that banks are not lending is wrong. They are, but only to other financial corporations, like leasing companies, hedge funds, pension funds, brokers and so on. These organisations have been unable to access the wholesale financial markets since the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the downward spiral in house prices. So they are borrowing from banks instead. Far from credit drying up, in the first 11 months of 2008 banks lent these groups £252.8bn.

The real trouble is that banks are still not lending to businesses or households. In the three months to November last year, lending to non-financial corporations fell

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Author

Graham Turner

Graham Turner is the author of The Credit Crunch: Housing Bubbles, Globalisation and the Worldwide Economic Crisis (Pluto Press) 


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