Speaking yesterday at Barclays Commercial’s "Beating the downturn" event at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel, Chris Dawson, multi-millionaire founder of The Range, had some harsh words for the assembled entrepreneurs.
"Sure, the banks shouldn’t have lent money to people who didn’t have a hope in hell of paying it back," he said. "But they can’t take all the blame. If you recklessly over-borrow, it’s as much your fault as it is theirs."
His words come in the wake of stern criticism of the banks’ over-lending. Off balance-sheet investments and the 125 per cent mortgage are cited as prime examples of the "age of irresponsibility".
Last year UK consumers borrowed some £228m every day. And despite Labour’s assertion that the pattern of "bust and boom" was broken, the days of cheap flights, easy credit and souring house prices surely could not go on forever?
And what of the banking regulators? The FSA. When Labour transfered the burden of monitoring financial transactions to this independent department, the ill-educated staff were not up to the task.
Speaking on the BBC’s Panorama programme on Wednesday, the former treasurer at Barclays, Brandon Davies, said, "They were not up to the job of looking at what we were doing".
So what now? Punishment for the culprits? Or do we look ahead for solutions to this crisis?
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