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Monday, July 15, 2024
EditorialsUp Front 01/09

Up Front 01/09

About 25 years ago, the then chairman of one of the world’s largest investment banks explained to me that the world was run by banks, not by governments. I spent the next six months repeating this to anyone that would listen, but for some reason, I then promptly forgot. Unsurprisingly the conversation came to mind recently when the ‘credit crunch’ began to take effect. Over the last few years high street banks and credit card companies have been taken to task about unfair charges and increasing interest rates, and I doubt I’m the only one staggered by their continued ability to apply outrageous fees for paltry overdrafts, while giving credit cards to people who can’t pay their debts and providing mortgages to homeowners who couldn’t afford them. Then recently there was the news that credit card issuers could take away a person’s home even if the debt wasn’t secured by a property in the first place. Apparently the lender could apply to the courts to get a charging order placed on the home, turning the debts into secured loans. Now, after billions of dollars of bank bailouts around the world, it looks like the US government might be about to flex some muscle. New rules proposed by the Federal Reserve may curtail lenders’ ability to raise interest rates on current balances and require them to extend the time customers have to pay bills before incurring late fees. After weeks of hearing the British Government telling banks to lower their mortgage interest rates, it will be interesting to see whether the US government can show who really runs things.

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