The Chancellor made his autumn statement today - five days into December! You can read the entire speech here and the BBC's synopsis here. Two things stand out for me. First, the projections for future economic growth are pure guesses - it is hard to see the UK economy growing at 2% plus after 2014. Second, Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock Asset Management have been brought unto the nation's balance sheet, adding £70bn to national debt! The Labour government had conveniently kept most of the financial interventions from 2008 off the nation's balance sheet. Including these interventions increases UK national debt dramatically - click here.
As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of