September 03, 2017

Mr Grainger has regulators who did not lose their pensions to thank for losing his life savings with Northern Rock

Sir, Emma Dunkley writes about how Dennis Grainger, a one-time Northern Rock manager, lost his savings when the bank collapsed. “10 Years On: The victim: ‘It’s left a nasty taste in our mouths’” September 2.

One sad part of the story is that it will most often be retold by ex-post/Monday quarterbacking besserwissers, in terms of Mr Grainger taking excessive risks, something that no matter his wife’s concerns, he was not doing in any for him comprehensible way. And what’s wrong with one man putting all his eggs in the same basket in a crazy world in which regulators give banks huge incentives to put all their eggs in the same “very safe” basket?

That of allowing banks to leverage their equity (capital) 60 times or more with the net margins obtained from what was perceived, decreed or concocted as safe, like AAA rated and sovereigns, that was what in a huge way contributed to bring Mr Grainger’s “safe” Northern Rock down.

Did regulators lose their pensions because of that? No, they even got promoted. Many of them are even hailed as heroes when with QEs and ultra low interests they are kicking the crisis can over to next generations. It is truly an unfair world. It leaves indeed a very bad taste in my mouth.

PS. That FT, in its “10 years on”, is unable to pinpoint the main causes for the crisis, does only worsen that bad taste in my mouth.