IF LIBOR meant little to most just a fortnight ago, the term has surely now entered common parlance, alongside sub-prime mortgages and triple-A credit ratings.
The interest rate-fixing scandal has brought low one of Britain’s biggest banks, claimed senior scalps within it and triggered political outrage from all corners.
Barclays, at the eye of the storm, has began an internal probe, a parliamentary inquiry into the matter has been promised while, on Friday, the Serious Fraud Office stepped in to confirm it had launched a criminal investigation into alleged rate-rigging.
All that while financial regulators in a number of territories continue to root out wrong-doings.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has been pushing for a full-blown independent inquiry but that risks a dragged out affair that a sector looking to rebuild its battered reputation can ill-afford.
Political divisions run deep and there are fears a parliamentary probe will descend into mud-slinging. Given last week’s bitter war of words between Chancellor George Osborne and his opposite number Ed Balls in the Commons those concerns are not entirely misplaced.
Yet, there is a desire among the public for a rapid resolution. Most want to see the seemingly all-too-cosy relationship between financiers, regulators and governments smashed. The City remains a strong lobbying force, however, and those hopes could end up being dashed.
Osborne risks further public anger this week if he opposes EU plans to cap bank bonuses. Reports yesterday suggested he will argue that proposals for a 1:1 bonus to pay ratio are the wrong way to haul in City remuneration.
The Libor debacle presents our scorned politicians with an opportunity to prove that they are capable of turning over a new leaf. They must rise to that challenge.
Place for a tram rethink
COULD Edinburgh’s embattled councillors have bitten off more than they can chew with the latest chapter in the city’s trams saga?
From this coming Saturday, York Place at the east end of Queen Street is due to close to all vehicles bar buses as work commences on the planned line’s final stop. From September, those buses should be rolling along a re-opened Princes Street.
As a result, the four lanes of traffic rumbling along this key east-west artery will be diverted via two New Town streets, with a single lane in each direction. The detour is scheduled to last for well over a year. We are assured by experts using computer modelling that delays will average about five minutes.
Clearly they haven’t tried squeezing a quart into a pint pot. Stand next to York Place for just a few minutes and those PC-generated estimates look woefully optimistic.
Factor in any breakdowns or accidents within those single lanes, deliveries, refuge collections and attempts at parallel parking (end-on spaces have been removed) and you have gridlock.
Businesses and residents have already vocalised their concerns and suggestions have been made to alleviate the anticipated disruption.
Councillors should swiftly revisit the possibility of opening Princes Street to vehicles other than buses.
Few people, even hardened tram critics, want a U-turn. Every effort should be made to get this scheme completed on budget and on time.
However, its backers need to listen to those affected by the subsequent upheaval or risk further twin blows to the city’s economy and pride.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North