I was in a certain amount of pain last night and therefore spent quite a lot of time listening to the BBC World Service. They were going on about the outcome of Basle 3, the meeting of world bankers to establish a global agreement to try to prevent the near disastrous economic collapse of the world economy brought about by the machinations of these enormous international Â banks.
I understand that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has debts in excess of the Gross National Product (GNP) of this country. The problem that the bankers in Basle have to resolve is how to prevent individual international banks becoming so big that we simply cannot afford to save them if they get into the same sort of trouble as we saw last time. Although almost 2 years has elapsed since we were on the verge of disaster the bankers still seem to be some distance away from a global agreement to avoid this happening again. In other words, it seems to me that the economically the world is in a very fragile state and it would still not take very much to push it over the edge and we will all be in trouble. Yet, with all this going on it seems the banks are still not able to limit the grotesque sizes of the bonuses they pay out to their staff -apparently, an average of Â£220,000, but this disguises the fact that over 3000 employees in the city will receive in excess of Â£1 million. The dilemma being that it is an open marketplace and if we don’t pay these bonuses the international banks in other countries would be only too delighted to get hold of them, and so damage London as the world financial centre. So what is the solution? It seems to me we are between a rock and a hard place on this one.
Son Miles, who had been listening to a radio programme, mentioned a couple of interesting illustrative statistics in connection with the size of our national debt, last time he was here having lunch with us. I hope I’ve got them right. He told me that if we stacked Â£50 notes in a vertical column up into the air, the column would have to rise 6000 miles before it represented the amount of debt owed by the UK. Put another way if the same man stood at a window throwing out Â£50 notes, one after the other, it would take him 3000 years before he reached the amount of our debt or, if every house was sold in the British Isles the accumulated value would only represent two thirds of Britain’s debt. If these are anywhere near the truth they are frightening statistics. This gives a very fair indication of the size of the problem facing this present government and why every one of us must be prepared to tighten our belts. Of course, it’s disappointing if some services and community projects have to be abandoned but the alternative does not bear thinking about.
The good Dr Michael arrived this afternoon from Sweden to spend a couple of days with us and we celebrated with our ritual bottle of champagne and cigar six o’clock. His son William and William’s friend Daisy will be here tomorrow to have lunch with us at The Cricketers public house, next door. This should be great fun and very interesting as it is the first time either of us will have met Daisy.
Both of my telephone lines are now dead again despite the two hour visit of Orange telephone engineer yesterday, which followed 8 days after the first engineer had been here. To be fair to the last engineer he did say he was not quite finished and that someone would be back either the following day or the next. However, when I rang this morning there was no record of any further visit required. I explained that I was disabled and we relied heavily on this particular telephone line and asked if they could expedite a visit but despite this the earliest they were prepared to come was next Friday morning. Bearing in mind this is their third attempt I think that’s a pretty poor show.