Newspapers have been quoting the survey by the World Economic Forum in which business leaders have been rating the solvency of world banks.
The rankings however were compiled just before the recent £50 billion bail-out by the UK, the nationalisation of the Icelandic banks and the larger US bail-out.
8. New Zealand
11. Hong Kong
15. South Africa
23. Slovak Republic
31. United Arab Emirates
32. Trinidad and Tobago
40. United States
43. El Salvador
44. United Kingdom
47. Costa Rica
52. Puerto Rico
53. The Gambia
57. Czech Republic
61. Brunei Darussalam
63. Saudi Arabia
68. Burkina Faso
70. Sri Lanka
73. Republic of Korea
78. Cote d’Ivoire
90. Dominican Republic
96. Bosnia and Herzegovina
102. FYR Macedonia
107. Russian Federation
117. Taiwan, China
130. East Timor
131. Kyrgyz Republic
Yes. That’s right.
The UK lies behind Peru and El Salvador.
Now given this report was a survey of the world’s economists whose advice our banks were no doubt taking; should we believe it?
Are the UK’s banks really behind Peru, El Salvador and Senegal?
Or is it an accurate representation that is slightly out of date, compiled as it was slightly before the bail-outs?
That must depend on whether you believe the bail-outs will work.
If reports are to be believed the Royal Bank of Scotland is next in line to be nationalised tomorrow. If that happens then there will be further pressure on the remaining UK bank’s to be nationalised too. The banking sector could be picked off one by one by the market and the taxpayer forced to pick up the tab.
On that Iain Dale post there have already been comments about the English taxpayer bailing out the Scottish bank.
It must be a pity, to all those who carp, that Scotland is not already independent.
An independent Scotland with a similar oil fund like our neighbour Norway could be similarly insulated from these turbulent times.
It would also have the economic levers to maintain its economy best, not just for the South-East of England as remains the case today. Remember Eddie George, the former Governor of the Bank of England: Unemployment in the north is a price worth paying for affluence in the South!
Although the credit crunch is global, take a look back at those rankings.
Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands. All small countries lying in the top 10.
Even Ireland, who have recently guaranteed all deposits in their banks, are sitting 9th.
The argument that Scotland is too small to be financially unstable is farcical! I don’t hear anyone saying that Denmark is too small and should be run from Berlin. (Not since the days of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War anyway!)
As countries large and small struggle with the credit credit crunch from the U.S. and Russia down to Iceland with its 300 000 population, this population argument of independence must be seen to be invalid. Iceland, with a population slightly smaller than North Lanarkshire, isn’t exactly Miramont Gardens in Pimlico!
What matters now is that we take the right decisions to get out this mess.
Those decisions may be different for each country. They may even be different for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
That’s why its important key economic levers are devolved away from Westminster.
Otherwise the Eddie George syndrome will hamper ‘the North’ recovering for years.