THE report by the Financial Services Authority into the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) identifies six factors that led to the near-demise of the bank and required a 45 billion pound rescue by the state. The report runs to 450 pages but, remarkably, mentions very few names of those involved in and possibly responsible for the debacle, although in its own words there were underlying deficiencies in RBS management, governance and culture which made it prone to make poor decisions.
There is a known name for the poorest of the poor decisions -- Sir Fred Goodwin who drove through the acquisition of ABN Amro which proved to be almost worthless -- but he departed from the bank in 2008 with a fat pension. There must be others. The collapse of RBS was the most spectacular of a number of banking failures whose causes have ranged from incompetence in the board room and among senior managers to inadequate supervision of individual staff members handling eye-watering sums of money -- not to mention the obscene bonuses and other benefits paid regularly. Why, then, is David Cameron ready to choose the protection of the City of London at the cost of isolating Britain from the European Union? Gordon Brown has been blamed for approving light touch regulation of the City. But is Cameron's protective kid glove approach any better?