‘If you were to listen to what City minister Lord Myners says, you would think responsibility for this crisis rested with shareholders and boards. I don’t know what happened to Lord Myners in his earlier life that led him to this view,’ Hoban said.
Unless I'm being thick, the implication is that it's a bit wrong-headed to think that boards or shareholders bear responsibility for the crisis. I find that a bit difficult to comprehend. Surely the boards of the failed banks must take primary responsibility for the failures of those banks? Ultimately the responsibility for the success or failure of a company must lie with those running it. Otherwise why do they have power (and rewards) in the first place?
Now you could argue that some financial institutions are simply unmanageable, and that the boards of those institutions don't even understand some of the products and strategies being utilised. But I'm pretty sure that isn't where this comment is coming from.
Judging from the comments that come later the argument is that the regulators should shoulder the blame for not preventing the crisis. But that logic leads you to blame the Environment Agency for companies polluting.
What about shareholders then? Well, as is no doubt obvious, I don't think that institutional investors covered themselves in glory before the crisis. Some argue though that you can't blame them as they don't have access to the same information that boards have - they will never be able to second guess boards. Now that might be true - but how is it any different from the position of regulators?
Ahhh but, you may argue, that's what regulators are supposed to do. It's their job to prevent things from falling over. True enough - but what exactly then is the role of a fund manager? You pay them to put your money into companies (or in reality the shares of companies) that do well and thus generate a return on your capital. If they say they can't be expected to spot the sort of failures that led to the crisis, what can they be expected to spot? And surely as fund management as a service - as opposed to regulation - is basically all about performance, surely there ought to be more incentive for fund managers to get these things right?
I'm not at all suggesting that regulators don't bear responsibility, but I really don't get the idea that boards especially don't have a bigger case to answer. And if you think regulators are just hopeless box-ticking bureaucrats trying to cover their own backsides, then why didn't self-interested investors solely looking solely to maximize returns do any better?
This little snippet of Tory thinking leaves me a bit bemused.