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Editor's blog Wednesday 8 July: The Cable guy

Good morning to you. Today's post relates to heath policy tangentially, through the medium of economics; specifically, the government's announcement later today of its plans for the banking sector.

We have had to become a good deal more literate about the financial sector: the recession has semi-professionalised intelligent amateurs who care about public policy.

Mostly, it has been a very alarming experience to realise that the wealth creation of the past decade has been to a huge extent about leverage and securitisation.

Gambling, basically.

It all looked great at the time, and it allowed us to refurbish the NHS (though a lot of money was  probably not spent too smartly). However, it's over for some time to come. Bankers and financiers think bonuses are back. Some of them are right - for the time being.

Bad habits
Yet bad habits are hard to break. The Government will find this when the printing of money under quantitative easing has to stop, because international credit markets (or as they are also known, Chinese banks) say so.

Equally, bankers and financiers have not yet realised, that (to paraphrase various commentators - and apologies to whoever they were; I haven't the reference) retail banks can in no real sense be considered to be part of the private sector, given the need for government to nationalise or semi-nationalise them. As one wit observed, we have seen the biggest piece of social corporate responsibility ever in the state's recapitalisation of banks.

The attitudes of the super-rich were brilliantly explored in Polly Toynbee and David Walker's excellent and prescient book Unjust Rewards. The penny seems to be as far away from dropping as ever.

A prophet with honour
There was a politician warning about this for some years, to little interest: Liberal Dermocrat treasury spokesman Dr Vincent Cable MP. His background as an economist probably helped a bit.

Today Cable outlines a sensible series of ideas in The Times. Cable rightly notes that the Government has continues its awestuck and supine attitude to the City, and suggests eminently sensible approaches that should be adopted.

The banks have a part to play in recovery from a recession they largely helped to create. Recapitalisation at any costs will be as damaging as a return to grossly irresponsible lending (of which my family are indirect beneficiaries, having sold our last house to people with a 125% Northern Rock mortgage in 2006 - poor them).

Likewise, although it is clear (and credit markets for government debt will dictate) that public spending needs to be slowed, a balance must be found between unintelligent slash-and-burn cuts and the Prime Minister's fantasy that the NHS and education can remain inviolate.

Play policy bingo with Cable's thoughtful article as Our Darling Chancellor announces his plans today.