Thursday, October 01, 2009

Well, what do you know?

Bloomberg has an article about a meeting at our own Institute of Economic Affairs that discussed the possible, nay probable, effects of more EU regulation of the financial markets. It was off the record but a few participants agreed to be quoted. What use an off the record meeting about financial regulations might be to anybody is not clear but the IEA loves to seem important.

Things are not going well. The financial regulations may affect the City adversely. Or so opines Ruth Lea, director at Arbuthnot Banking Group Plc and, as our readers may recall, director of the now moribund but formally still living Global Vision.

We have written about this group before (here and here for example) and we did not think highly of it. There seemed to be a great deal of retreading of old ground (people will listen if we tell them about the economics, yaddda-yadda) and their proposed aim seemed completely irrational.

Global Vision's view was that Britain should renegotiate a different relationship with the EU and its member states. I shall not weary our readers with a rehash of all the arguments why that can be described in technical terms as utter tosh. They are there in the postings I have linked to.

It would appear that Ruth Lea has inched away from that position.
"I am extremely worried about the City of London," said Ruth Lea, a director at Arbuthnot Banking Group Plc, who agreed after the Sept. 24 meeting at the Institute of Economic Affairs for her comments to be published. "Britain may be able to influence EU regulation, but we won't be calling the shots. Britain should consider the nuclear option of leaving the EU."
Mind you, this is something she said to the journalist. Did she say it in so many words at the meeting? This is not clear.

Other contributors made it clear either with approval or disapproval that what is at issue is not economic development or fear of financial crises; it is the "Anglo-Saxon" way of doing things that the EU is out to destroy.

Let us not at this stage go into what "Anglo-Saxon" might mean or whether it is really in evidence in Britain. What the financial regulations intend to do, according to all those quoted in the article is to undermine or destroy the City of London, the only really big international financial centre in the EU. The fact that these regulations will not help anyone else particularly seems to be irrelevant.

Read the whole piece on Bloomberg. But before you do, let me note one more interesting comment:
"It's good to avoid mentioning London in every single sentence and start looking at this from a European point of view," said Mats Persson, research director at Open Europe, a London lobby group that's critical of EU integration. Persson also spoke at the IEA. "I am Swedish, and I have sympathy for this kind of thinking."
What kind of thinking? More European control of the financial markets because the City is dispensable? Is this quite what we want to hear from our premier glasnost think-tank?