A National Investment Bank for the UK?

Next Tuesday there will be a debate in Central London: “Does Britain need a National Investment Bank?” This sounds inviting, but will the real issue be discussed?

The debate is being hosted by Reform, an organisation that has the laudable goals of "set[ting] out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity". It describes itself as an "independent, charitable, non-party think tank", in other words a talking shop. As far as these organisations go, it is quite small; its latest returns filed with the Charity Commission indicates an income of a little over a million and a quarter pounds with expenditure of just over a million.

Obviously the main recipients of its “charity” are its academic staffers, such as their American counterpart Robert Rector et al, who make a comfortable living preaching austerity for those worse off than themselves, people who may actually contribute something to society.

The good news is that the people who staff Reform don’t appear to be quite as odious as him, but according to their own records they received £50,000 last year from Lloyds and £17,500 from KPMG, among others. Anyone who has tried to get any sort of donation out of a big company for even the most worthy of causes can only be a bit suspicious. Why would Lloyds want to support an organisation that lobbies for a national investment bank?

With that necessary caveat, this meeting might just be worth attending; one of its speakers is Robert Skidelsky, who is not only a distinguished academic but now a lord. If his recent pronouncements are anything to go by, George Osborne won’t be too pleased with anything he has to say.

Attendance at the meeting is by invitation only from


but doubtless Reform will publish a report on it in due course.

And the real issue alluded to above? Banks creating credit and selling it to the government, instead of the government creating its own debt-free.

[The above op-ed was first published November 15, 2012; the original wasn’t archived.]

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