Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives in London tomorrow. He’ll meet the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and a former Prime Minister (among others) and he’ll attend the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.

But then he’ll get down to business: Mr Romney is here primarily to boost his campaign coffers. At a cost of up to $75,000 a ticket, London-based American bankers are joining him at a series of fundraising dinners.

Some Barclays bankers will be in attendance, which has caused unease among a few MPs. They have used a parliamentary motion to call on Barclays executives “to cease fundraising for political candidates immediately and to concentrate entirely on repairing confidence and trust in the banking system instead”.

(And before anyone asks: No. Romney Street was around many, many years before Mitt Romney)

NY TIMES: “The misconduct of the financial industry no longer surprises most Americans. Only about one in five has much trust in banks, according to Gallup polls, about half the level in 2007. And it’s not just banks that are frowned upon. Trust in big business overall is declining. Sixty-two percent of Americans believe corruption is widespread across corporate America. According to Transparency International, an anticorruption watchdog, nearly three in four Americans believe that corruption has increased over the last three years.”

From inothernews

(And the yanks pay a whole lot more to get rid of their bank chief execs…)

When it comes to pay-offs for humbled bank chiefs, British shareholders get superb value for money

(At least, when compared with their US counterparts)

Fred Goodwin, former RBS chief executive

Forced into early retirement after RBS lost a record £24 billion in 2008

Pay-off: £6.9 million

Bob Diamond, former Barclays chief executive

Ousted last week after Barclays was fined £291 million for its role in the Libor rigging scandal. Gave up £20 million in bonuses

Pay-off: £2 million

Adam Applegarth, former Northern Rock chief executive

Quit Northern Rock months before it was nationalised in 2008

Pay-off: £760,000

Andy Hornby, former HBOS chief executive

Hornby (left) was removed as HBOS was rescued from collapse by its government-backed merger with Lloyds TSB. Turned down £1.6 million severance

Pay-off: £2,970 (statutory redundancy)

GRAND TOTAL: £9.7 million

Meanwhile, across the pond…

Charles “Chuck” Prince, former chairman and chief executive at Citigroup

Stepped down after Citi revealed tens of billions of dollars of sub-prime mortgage losses

Pay-off: $95 million (£45 million)

How would Darwin reform the banks?

This hunt in Whitehall might turn up no Libor witches | Daniel Finkelstein

Today, Conservative MPs will be hoping to discover the identities of the senior Whitehall figures who, according to Barclays, raised the issue of the bank’s Libor rate. Could it have been Ed Balls? Gordon Brown?

These MPs might be disappointed.

First, it is possible that Barclays weren’t told the identities. So we would have to wait for evidence from Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor at the Bank of England.

But second, there is a difference between being concerned at Barclays’ high Libor rate, and asking that Barclays manipulate that rate.

It is very important that press comment makes this distinction and doesn’t attempt to suggest that a senior Whitehall figure or Labour minister expressing concern about Barclays’s rate (which strikes me as rather impressive attention to detail) is embarrassing because it is in some way the same as urging manipulation.

Twitter: @Dannythefink

‘This disaster won’t go away until you face some hard truths.’ Read Daniel’s advice to bankers

Diamond’s fall exposes fundamental flaws in the City | Oliver Kamm

Bob Diamond’s resignation as chief executive of Barclays signals that the failings at the bank were not merely due to rogue traders. They were institutional and fundamental – both to the bank and to the workings of the City.

There is no single interest rate in the wholesale money markets. There is proxy for a benchmark rate, which is Libor. The flaw in calculating it, however, is that it depends on the banks’ own estimates of the interest rate they would pay daily on a wholesale deposit.

This was a system ripe for abuse. Barclays manipulated the rate upwards to boost its profits, on which bankers’ bonuses were calculated.

The scandal has severely damaged the reputation of the City. It suggests the banking sector is, in effect, an oligopoly operating restrictive practices.

Twitter: @OliverKamm

“It is hard to overstate the scandalousness of the bank’s behaviour or its significance for the wider economy,” says The Times

Times Opinion today | Diamond Bob, Islam and human rights, the beautiful game

Goodbye, Diamond Bob

Bankers who spent £44,000 on wine at the Michelin-starred Pétrus restaurant broke Bob Diamond’s “no jerks” rule. This rule can be extended to all walks of life, says Rachel Sylvester

And the £291 million fine for Barclays pales in comparison to its £3 billion profits. The bank should have been fined no less than £1 billion, says David Davis, the chair of the 20120 Future of Banking Commission

“It is hard to overstate the scandalousness of the bank’s behaviour or its significance for the wider economy,” says The Times


“This would effectively be in/out/shake-it-all-about,” says a confused Hugo Rifkind of a three-part referendum on EU membership

Middle East

Islam and human rights are not mutually exclusive,” says Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish journalist, praising Turkey’s aggressive stance on Assad’s Syria


Football “is not merely a tribal experience but an aesthetic one, too,” says Matthew Syed, in praise of Spain

The Times has been investigating the “export” of damaged children from care homes in London and the South East to cheaper homes in the North West and West Midlands. The Times says this is an “outrage”

Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft brings back memories from the race to the moon

(Times Opinion, Tuesday July 3, 2012)

Last year Barclays’ profit after tax was about £3 billion. Any fine of less than £1 billion is, therefore, largely irrelevant. If Barclays shareholders had seen a significant chunk of the profits disappear in a fine, with a concomitant drop in the share price, it would not be long before they straightened out the board.

Sneak Peek: David Davis MP, who chaired the Future of Banking Commission in 2010, thinks the £291 million fine levied against Barclays for its role in the Libor scandal just isn’t enough.

Times Opinion today | Cowboy bankers, stupid weather, Eurosceptics & in vitro fertilisation

Cowboy bankers

“We must stop buying the lie that because there is no gun in the boardroom, the occupants must be innocent,” says financial editor Patrick Hosking of the Barclays Libor rigging scandal

Before any public inquiry into Libor rigging is convened, criminal proceedings must be opened, The Times says

Stupid weather

The Met Office predicted that April-May-June would be dry. It was actually the wettest on record in England. Is this down to climate change? asks Matt Ridley

Getting out of Europe

“Smelling victory, the whole Eurosceptic movement is sensing vindication; but it is quite unprepared for its moment in the sun,” says Tim Montgomerie, who puts forward a campaigning “genius” to lead the Eurosceptic cause


In France, it’s now compulsory to carry two breathalysers in your car (as it will be as a tourist visiting France). Agnès Poirier thinks this is all about psychology


Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new President, must remember that he is responsible to all Egyptians, not just Muslim Brotherhood voters, says Alaa al-Aswany

It would be “absurd” to deliberately exclude the voice of chief constables in the elections for police commissioners, The Times says

The Times speaks in praise of in vitro fertilisation after the five millionth IVF baby is born

(Times Opinion, Monday July 2, 2012)

Why did we trust bankers not to milk the Libor cow? | Hugo Rifkind

It’s peculiar, really, the Libor story. How can everybody be so very angry about something that almost nobody understands?

But that’s the point. The great criticism of the City – or rather, the thing that makes everybody who doesn’t work in it hate it, despite relying on it – is that hardly anybody understands it, and the few people who do understand it are milking it, and thus bastards.

And what do you know? They were, and are. Two days ago I barely knew what Libor was. Today, I recognise it as another of the many little technical levels that make the financial services industry function. We all take it on good faith that bankers use them properly because we don’t have the time, energy or expertise to check.

But again and again, they aren’t. That’s why we’re cross, and why we should be.

Twitter: @hugorifkind

Read more: Bob Diamond should go says The Times and banks should be split apart, says Nigel Lawson

Times Opinion today | Bob Diamond should go, Obamacare, Bomber Command, beard tax

Barclays and Bob

Diamond should go, says The Times

Banks must be split apart, says Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor


“I will never see Arnold Schwarzenegger and not think of a brown condom stuffed with walnuts,” says Philip Collins of the “underrated” Clive James

The authorities have taxed “wealth, numbers of female servants, hearths, watches, dogs and salt…beards, beehives, basements, hats, birth, marriage and death…nothing tears a society apart faster than the perception of a tax burden unshared,” says Ben Macintyre.

The memorial to the men of Bomber Command is long overdue, The Times says

The trench warfare that is Obamacare will rumble on, The Times says

Syrian blogger Fares Chamseddine thinks Syrian rebels will welcome Turkey’s sabre-rattling

Ed Miliband’s poll bounce and confidence boost makes it game on for the 2015 election, says Anushka Asthana

(Times Opinion, Friday June 29, 2012)

Times Opinion today | welfare, Roy Hodgson, defence cuts & punishing bankers


“The Tories keep saying “work must pay” and it’s a ruse. It’s not the differential that bothers them entirely. It’s the concept. The Left will never understand how much this concept appals the Right, and the Right will often not let on, because it doesn’t want to sound like somebody with a talk show on Fox News.” Hugo Rifkind writes about welfare…

…as does The Times in a leading article examining what the limits on welfare should be


In praise of Roy Hodgson: the football wasn’t uplifting but he guided the team with great professionalism, The Times says

Liverpool College moves from the private to the public sector today. We need more of this, says Andrew Adonis, Tony Blair’s former education adviser

What is customer service? New recruits don’t have a clue, says the chairman of Poundland

Entire regiments and battalions are to be axed as part of defence reforms. David Cameron, fresh from alienating the bishops over gay marriage, now risks antagonising the generals, says Rachel Sylvester

Use the fear of jail sentences to stop banks behaving badly, says historian Niall Ferguson

The election of a president from the Muslim Brotherhood puts Egypt on the road to democracy, The Times says

(Times Opinion, Tuesday June 26, 2012)

Whereas giant asteroids come from outer space, financial crises originate within the system. A large disruption has happened in our time but where are the mass extinctions? The dinosaurs still roam the financial world.

Niall Ferguson, Professor of History at Harvard University, thinks the City of London needs a dose of Darwinism.

Times Opinion today | Germany’s euro burden, Egypt’s President, Italy’s cocktail & Britain’s tax avoidance problem


Italy is “a dangerous cocktail of debt, politics, a comedian and Silvio Berlusconi,” says Bill Emmott – despite the stabilising hand of Mario Monti

Egypt has a new President – but he and the Muslim Brotherhood would do well to remember just how few people voted for him, says Amir Taheri

Germany, if it wants the euro to remain, must commit fully to shouldering the debts of eurozone nations, The Times says (as does Tony Blair)

Invest in Africa – the words that every Sunderland footballer will carry on their chests next year, thanks to Aidan Heavey, chief executive of Tullow Oil. He explains why


“If the wealthiest pay as little as 1 per cent tax, and corporations even less, that is an offence against the values and sense of fairness of ordinary people,” says Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee

Libby Purves takes Ed Miliband to task for his “cynical” about-turn on immigration

“It should not take an institution of this size the best part of a week to recover from a failed systems upgrade,” we say of NatWest

We also say that East London’s reputation has been lifted by the 50,000 who turned out for the Hackney Weekend festival

(Times Opinion, Monday 25 June, 2012)

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