Mortgages Archives - Emile Woolf writes

BANKING SCANDALS: CAN THE RBS SAGA TELL US ANYTHING NEW?

It’s not as if each successive banking scandal throws up new insights. The proverbial “innocent bystander” might reasonably suppose that, by now, something would have been learnt from the cyclical repetition of egregious behaviour and the crises it generates. Much of this behaviour is just plain foolish: unbridled credit expansion; lending practices landing banks with […]

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Economic Perspectives 9 – Regulatory extortion and legitimising corruption

News media gloat over the eye-watering levels of retribution (in the form of fines and penalties) finally being meted out to aberrant banks found guilty of having violated securities laws leading up to the last financial crash. I find it astonishing, firstly, that it has taken close to 10 years to identify, formulate and punish […]

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Prudence returns to accounting, but not to the economy

  International accounting standard-setters have at last recognised the error of their ways and relented on the question of prudence, which they plan to re-instate as a fundamental accounting principle. Bank auditors will have to form an independent view on loan recoverability, rather than rely on the potentially biased judgements of management. A regime that […]

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Auditors, wasted loans, currency wars… and gold

I noted last month that the record of auditors’ ability to assess the worth of banks’ loan portfolios is singularly uninspiring. In the US the Securities and Exchange Commission is actively pursuing auditors who issued clean opinions after accepting management’s assurances of worth, followed by massive bailouts. Yet any meaningful audit is impossible when supposed […]

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Hiding the truth with complexity: trust your own reason

When I started writing for this magazine over 40 years ago the editor was a wise old owl called Geoffrey Holmes. During a conversation on some thorny accounting controversy Geoffrey would slyly suggest that I tackle it in my next article. It was no use suggesting a different subject – he would simply look at […]

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Time to call the European Commission to Account

The subject of Europe polarises any otherwise rational debate. Obsessional prejudice, whether pro or con, induces deafness and drives out reason. More inflammatory even than party politics (where spin and expediency have blunted the ideals), passions over Europe (the Union, not the continent) have taken on the trappings of a belief system, susceptible to neither […]

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Enhancing banks’ accounting regulation: and about time!

Regulation of the UK financial services industry is now entrusted to a new body with a new name and a new boss. Andrew Bailey, whose signature appears on your banknotes, takes over this month as chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority, successor to the FSA. Initial impressions augur well. In his first post-appointment interview […]

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Audit quality: is lack of competition the problem?

Twelve years ago, when their audit of Enron’s last accounts heralded the demise of Arthur Andersen, the largest end of the audit market shrank to four firms. The Competition Commission (CC) has now provisionally concluded that the audit market is restricted: companies are inhibited from switching auditors and there is a tendency for auditors to […]

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EU membership – in or out? Think it through, but tread warily

“Expert” is defined as a  person whose research, knowledge and experience accords them the respect of  their peers in a well-distinguished domain. Economics is just such a domain, yet the degree of diversity in the views of  so-called experts can be astonishing. Take one of today’s most topical issues: will a UK exit from the […]

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All the forecasts are wrong

THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLE’  www.barchestergreen.co.uk by Emile Woolf www.emilewoolfwrites.co.uk Forecasts are a particular problem these days. From 2009 to 2011 every prediction, from the Chancellor’s Spending Reviews to the Bank of England’s official outlooks, suggested that economic growth, however modest, would return by late 2012. Even the Office of Budget Responsibility and the Institute of Fiscal […]

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