ME and Ophelia

Friday, February 13, 2009

Newsnight Friday 13 February 2008

Copy of Panorama email received today:
Hello viewers

Yet another economic thunderbolt crashed down today. The news that HBOS will post pre-tax losses of around £10 billion for 2008 and as a result shares in Lloyd's Banking Group are currently down 32% at 61p. Where were the FSA who had twice raised concerns about the bank calling its performance "disturbing"? And when the government waived competition rules to allow the takeover of HBOS to go ahead, were the taxpapers being sold a pup? I'll be asking the Chancellor and then he'll be joined by France's Finance minister Christine Lagarde to talk about the priorities for the coming G20 summit on the global financial crisis, and her less than complimentary assessment of Alistair Darling's handling ofBritain's bailout.

Then we'll be looking at the harsh realities of unemployment with our Economics Editor Paul Mason. Here's a word from him:

'When Newsnight asked me to take a look at the state of the labour market 6 months into the recession, I immediately thought of the journey made by George Orwell six years into the Depression of the 1930s. The Road To Wigan Pier is one of my favourite pieces of journalism, but I've always been puzzled as to why Orwell never actually wrote about the roadhe took. I consulted his diaries and retraced it over three days last week, from Coventry to Stoke to Manchester and then Wigan. What I've found is that today's situation is about more than just unemployment.

It's a story about low pay and insecurity for many of those in work, a downward pressure on wages, and the distinct lack of any coherent story for providing the high-paid, high-skilled work that is gradually disappearing from Britain. Together with a tiny camera, plus BBC multimedia producer Mark Lobel, I travelled, shooting impromptu interviews with the people I met, giving press officers and security guards a wide berth. Tune in tonight to see how Britain looks from the bottom end of the jobs market. And you can read more about my Road To Wigan Pier here.
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Extracts from today's Snowmail by Krishnan of Channel 4 News:
Quite a lot vying for the top spot tonight but I am late so I will be brief. The Buffalo air disaster, Lloyds Bank shares plummet amid more banking losses and the 13-year-old dad are all possibles. I'll tweet whatever comes out on top a bit later.

The air crash is still a mystery. The aircraft, a Bombadier Dash 8 twin prop, was pretty new. The weather was bad but not appalling. All we know is that the aircraft came down a few miles from its destination killing four crew, 44 passengers and one person in the house it hit. Amazingly two other people in the house escaped relatively unscathed. Theirs is the story the American media must get soon.

Watch the noon report:


Lloyds shares have plummeted nearly 30 per cent today after predicting HBOS will post a loss of £10bn pounds for 2008.

Lots of angry Lloyds shareholders.....but what a week it has been for the banks. The beginning of the apologies and more searches for blame. The trail is catching up with all those people involved in financial services and their regulation over the last 10 years.

In a remarkable interview this lunchtime on the News at Noon the former cabinet secretary who was previously permanent secretary at the treasury, Lord Turnbull, told me how everyone – bankers, regulators, politicians - just went along with the radical (and ultimately riskier) changes in how Britain’s banks operated because they were swept along by each other.

What Lord Turnbull describes sounds like a classic version of ‘group think’. Comparing it to the belief Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and fears of the Y2K bug (remember that!!??) he said there were fears of a bubble being started but nobody imagined it would have got as big as it did.

Incidentally the noble Lord had been suggested to us by the cabinet office as an interviewee to defend civil servants accepting freebies. In a robust defence of his colleagues Lord Turnbull took an interesting swipe at a certain Labour politician at the department of business (whose permanent secretary is in for lots of stick over the dozens of hospitality events he accepted in a year).

"You need to think clearly. It must not be too lavish." he said.

"A good starting point is to stay away from private yachts." Of course it might as easily have been aimed at the shadow chancellor.

Watch the interview with Lord Andrew Turnbull:
# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 2/13/2009
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