Wednesday, November 21


What is going on with our Chancellor?! Alistair Darling was forced to defend his handling of the Northern Rock collapse, making his second statement to the Commons in as many days as the Rock's shares went into a free-fall following a failed sale to private equity (note, dear reader, that an unseemly depositor run on Northern Rock occurred last month due to its exposure to the sub-prime fiasco. Northern Rock is (or was?) the UK's fifth largest mortgage lender. We, the friendly British tax payer, have been stung by at least a £20B exposure). As if that were not bad enough, Britain's most senior tax man, Paul Gray, quit his £170,000-a-year job today as head of HM Customs and Revenue after he lost two discs containing confidential bank details on 7.5 million British families including, perhaps, US. This data includes bank account details, birth dates, addresses and tax-payer IDs (the equivalent of a U.S. Social Security number). The names of 15 million children are there too. Such a mess to occur in England, home of the world's financial center, is just plain shocking. Gordon Brown has rolled from one crises to the next since taking over from Tony. To his credit, until the autumn elections cock-up, Gordon has handled himself admirably. Oh how the perception of him has changed. And fast. Good bye, lame duck.