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May 22, 2013

Mark Carney to head the Bank of England

November 27, 2012 by

Mark Carney in Davos, Switzerland. Jolanda Flubacher/swiss-image.ch

As a Canadian, perhaps I should feel a surge of patriotic pride now that Mark Carney has been designated the new head of the Bank of England – quite a step up for the current governor of the Bank of Canada. There is no question that Mr. Carney is a market-savvy guy (he did, after all, work for the vampire squid), and his experiences as Chairman on the Financial Stability Board (FSB) suggests that he is sensitive to the ongoing systemic risks present in our increasingly complex global banking system.

That said, his recent attack on the Bank of England’s Andy Haldane in a Euromoney interview last month, does give one some cause for concern, particularly as it evinces the usual complacency that most Canadians seem to feel about the basic soundness of their own banking system, which essentially upholds the universal banking model as a viable one. By contrast, in his famous “dog and frisbee speech” delivered last August at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Haldane suggested that: “Regulation of modern finance is almost certainly too complex. That configuration spells trouble…Because complexity generates uncertainty, it requires a regulatory response grounded in simplicity, not complexity.”

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When War came Home…

August 14, 2011 by

Remnants of the Carpetright store in Tottenham, London after being set ablaze. Photo by Alan Stanton

War came to Britain’s streets this past week in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and other urban centers. The country had seen protests against the Iraq war, cuts in pensions for local government employees and teachers, and against dramatic increases in student tuition fees.  The events of recent days, however, signify the worst social unrest in a generation. It is a reminder of the 1980s, when urban riots shook British society to its core.

Thirty years ago, racism in the inner cities was rampant. The Labour government had fallen and the political left was utterly demoralized. Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, champion of ultra-rightwing economic theories and political soulmate of Ronald Reagan, had assumed office, determined to confront the unions she saw as the main cause of social evils. Thatcher, with her Chancellor of the Exchequer Geoffrey Howe and Industry Secretary Keith Joseph, was administering shock therapy to the country.

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Defence Policy under David Cameron

February 24, 2011 by

The SDSR (Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review) was released by the David Cameron government in October of 2010.  Despite calls for deep cuts to the military budget, U.K.’s defence policy under David Cameron mirrors the policy directions taken by his predecessors, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

For example, the U.K. will continue to have an operational military presence in Afghanistan and the Balkans and a non-operational presence in Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Germany and Northern Ireland.

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