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Green Investment Bank: Don't blow it (Eco news)

Green Investment Bank: Don't blow it
The Guardian reported

Early next week will bring two pieces of news about whether Britain is getting any closer at all to having the sort of banks it needs. The first concerns a short-term but serious problem: lenders' unwillingness after the financial crisis to support perfectly sound businesses.

In February HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds signed a deal with the Treasury to provide more credit to firms. The first indication of how the big four are faring on that goal comes on Monday, with the Merlin lending figures for the first quarter of this year. If all that follows is politicians and commentators comparing the reality with the promises then the bankers will probably not be too displeased, since their initial commitments were pretty risible. The £190bn of credit that the banks said they would lend to businesses was a non-binding aspiration, rather than a hard-and-fast target; and it was for all loans, both old and new. The financiers know the old trick of accounting perspective, which states that most things can be made to look large if your yardstick is small enough.

The second big banking event concerns not the City but government. It looks likely that early next week ministers will provide some details of the green investment bank (GIB), an idea invented by Alistair Darling and inherited by George Osborne. This could form either a crucial part of the answer to how Britain develops a world-beating alternative-energy industry – or it could be yet another damp squib.


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