Narrow Banking

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The best way to make the financial system more robust to the inevitable shock and failures is to restore elements of the functional separation which existed before the 1980s – most of all, to split the utility functions of traditional retail and commercial banking from the casinos of investment banking. As the crisis developed in the period from August 2007 to the bankruptcy of Lehman in September 2008 and the collapse of major banks followed that failure, John developed this theme in articles all too presciently entitled –  More regulation will not prevent next crisis, There is a better way to stop bank failures and Taxpayers will fund another run on the casino, which expounded the now famous utility/casino metaphor. The argument is developed at much great length in his pamphlet Narrow Banking. The Independent Banking Commission chaired by Sir John Vickers, has put ring-fencing the utility at the centre of its proposals. For a preliminary view on the Commission’s thinking, read the Interim Report which was published in April.

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