In his budget yesterday (FT's coverage is below), the Chancellor of the Exchequer (click here for the etymology of this title) announced a £12 billion mortgage guarantee scheme. Why is the UK government so keen to stimulate the UK housing market? After all, it was the exuberance in housing markets which was largely to blame for the financial crisis. The mortgage guarantee scheme is aimed at helping borrowers who don't have enough money to put down a deposit on a house. Are these not going to be subprime borrowers of various shade? Click here to read Robert Peston's view on this scheme.
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