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HBOS report yields three important lessons for all businesses

British regulators have finally published their report into HBOS, the bank formed from the merger of Halifax with Bank of Scotland, more than seven years after its collapse. The 600-odd pages contain much detail on events and personalities. But there are general lessons for all businesses. Avoid the diversifier’s fallacy. Beware the winner’s curse. Fear adverse selection.

Solutions to the Greek debt crisis should be found through pragmatism not blame

The Greek crisis is not simply the result of Athens’ inept public administration but also of an extensive carry trade on eurozone convergence by northern European banks, notably in France and Germany, which obtained short-term profits by matching northern eurozone liabilities with southern eurozone assets. For every foolish borrower there is usually a foolish lender.

Why banking crises happen in America but not in Canada

John contrasts Timothy Geithner’s firefighting approach to financial crises with the analysis of their political origins of Calomiris and Haber in Fragile by Design

To secure stability, treat finance and fast food alike

If I had a million pounds for every time I have heard a possible reform opposed because “it wouldn’t have prevented Northern Rock or Lehman Brothers going bust”, I might now have enough money to bail out a bank.

Fannie Mae is a needless and risky model for UK housing

Ambiguity is often attractive to politicians and costly to taxpayers.

Bungled bailout heralds shift in attitudes

The belief that the right response to the failures of Basel I and II is a more elaborate version of the same global regime is a triumph of hope over experience.

Take on Wall St titans if you want reform

Effective banking reform should aim at structures, not at intensified supervision. Resilient systems are simple ones.

Why economists stubbornly stick to their guns

Why do we so often find that events reinforce what we already believe? John explains how confirmation bias characterises reactions to the financial crisis.

The nightmare of taking on ‘too big to fail’

John reviews the interim report of the Independent Banking Commission. The direction of travel is right but the devil is in the detail

Turning back the clock to ‘Hovis banking’

The suggestion that we might partially turn back the clock has been described as a call for “Hovis banking”, referring to an advertisement that plays on nostalgia. The commercial succeeds because we believe the bread our grandparents ate, before innovations in technology and marketing, was nicer and more wholesome. Perhaps that is true in banking as in baking.