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)

Times Opinion today | Scientology, Eric Sykes, the God particle & the BBC


Eric Sykes was one of those giants of comedy who, away from the TV screen, looked smaller than life,” says The Times

We won’t have a female boss at Barclays, says Camilla Cavendish, because successful mothering isn’t counted as a plus


Scientology is weird, but aren’t all religions? asks David Aaronovitch. And as for circumcision…

State-backed Big Science has been vindicated with the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, The Times says


“We’ll flog arms or drugs or extortionate insurance or dodgy derivatives to anyone with a chequebook,” says Matthew Parris. “Britain plays dirty. We always have.”

General Sir Peter Wall, head of the Army, says a new Reserve force will maintain our military strength as five battalions are axed


Rape charges will no longer be left to lie where the guilty party has already been jailed for murder, says Keir Starmer, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions

The Times says George Entwistle, the new Director-General of the BBC, is a safe choice – but he must stop the BBC swamping the media environment

(Times Opinion, Thursday July 05, 2012)

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

Times Opinion today | bad bankers, science is the answer, drug cheats & Hawk-Eye

Bad bankers

“This is not a PR disaster. It’s a disaster,” says Daniel Finkelstein of the Libor-rigging scandal. He offers a little advice to the banks

Barclays could now lead the change for a better banking sector – as drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline did in pharmaceuticals, says David Wighton

The Times says the departure of Bob Diamond and Marcus Agius “must usher in a new culture of probity…intelligent risk-taking rather than excess driven by a desire for short-term profit”.

Higgs boson discovered!

But the search for the UK’s growth particle continues. Could science provide the answer? Alice Thomson thinks so


“It is not just tennis that seems intent on humiliating its officials,” Thunders Ross Clark on Hawk-Eye technology in tennis and the “military-style” reviews system in cricket

The Times says the British Olympic Association should seek longer bans for drug cheats

Russian money

Britain should ask more questions about the oligarchs flowing into London from the old Soviet Union, says Russian activist Alexey Navalny


We should celebrate thus week’s election in Libya, The Times says

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)

There will always be greedy people in and around banks. But greedy people will only commit fraud or negligence if they think it is unlikely to be noticed or punished. Voltaire said that the British periodically executed an admiral “pour encourager les autres”. All the detailed regulation in the world will do less to avert a future financial crisis than the clear and present danger in the minds of today’s bankers that, if they transgress in the eyes of the authority on whom their business ultimately depends, they could go to prison. In Darwinian terms, occasional career extinctions are a necessary part of financial, as well as natural, selection.

…as Niall Ferguson, the Harvard historian, said in The Times on Tuesday. Might a certain species of Barclays banker be extinct by tomorrow?

Loading posts...