There was a useful bit of scene setting yesterday by John McFall, the combative chairman of the Treasury Select Committee as it prepares for its first foray into the violent storms gripping the financial markets.
Showing a perceptive awareness of his reputation, he said financial stability should be everyone’s number one priority, adding: “We could all have fun and games but it might only add to instability”. This dampening down of the expectation that the select committee’s sessions this autumn could be akin to a political fireworks display will be welcome news to the senior figures from the housing and mortgage markets invited to appear before Mr McFall and his fellow interrogators on Tuesday.
If those giving evidence on behalf of the markets play it right on Tuesday they should be able to illicit more sympathy than hostility by shifting the blame to the wholesale markets and regulators for creating the conditions that led the chronic overheating of the housing market. I retain a healthy degree of scepticism, however, about the ability of the Treasury Select Committee to refrain from going for the jugular when it gets senior bankers and regulators in front of it later in the month.
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