Regulation, not immigration, should be the new black

Our Prime Minister is talking a great deal about immigration – and not all that accurately, as it turns out.  David Cameron would doubtless argue – as would Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband – that he is merely addressing the concerns of voters.  Yet, with every day that he and his political peers continue down this path of either reckless or wilful disinformation, they are avoiding a subject of the greatest importance.

Ratings agencies have still not been fully scrutinised for their role in the financial crisis.  As a former worker in that industry noted last summer, speaking to Joris Luyendijk for his excellent Banking Blog, “Now here we are four years later, and the most incredible thing has happened – we’ve learned nothing from the whole thing.  Everybody pretends it’s all OK.”

And, of course, it is not all OK.  Immigration is not so severe a threat to our society and economy as the unchecked promotion of new and bewilderingly complex financial products.  Yet, judging by the recent focus of our politicians, this topic is occupying a vastly disproportionate percentage of our airtime.

Immigration reform is all the rage.  Meanwhile, the better regulation of ratings agencies and other related areas of the financial sector is very, very far from being the new black.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is because the subject is difficult to reduce to slogans and other soundbites – perhaps it is too unsexy to sell to the floating voter on his or her doorstep.  Well, so what.  It is vital to the future financial health of our country, and the most responsible thing is to keep it at the forefront of our thoughts.  Sadly, though, I am not holding my breath.


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