Barclays and HSBC fight banking commission powers
HSBC and Barclays have put forward the case against being broken up by the coalition's banking commission, which will set out tomorrow for the first time the issues that will be considered during its year-long review. The commission has a mandate to consider whether the universal banking model – where retail and "casino" investment arms sit alongside each other – needs to be altered to avoid another taxpayer bailout. Banks such as HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are most concerned by this aspect of the review. Led by Sir John Vickers, the former head of the Office of Fair Trading, the commission will also scrutinize the broader issue of competition on the high street, which is dominated by Lloyds Banking Group as a result of the rescue of HBOS during the 2008 banking crisis. ... John Varley, the outgoing chief executive of Barclays, defended the role played by investment banks that are linked to high-street banks. In a comment piece in the Financial Times, Varley said: "It is not the work of the casino. Offering a fixed-rate mortgage to a first-time buyer (a derivative is needed to do that) is a real economy service. So is offering a farmer the ability to hedge his euro farm-support payments to protect his business from swings in currency value (which needs a derivative)."