October 14th, 2008
12:10 PM GMT
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LONDON, England – Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown blames city bankers for the "age of irresponsibility" that ultimately led to the global financial crisis. While announcing the effective nationalisation of three big British banks he attacked the "excessive risk taking" of some financial institutions.

One thing is clear: the age of 'easy credit' is over. Banks, we're told, will be tightening their loan criteria.

Fearing that this new financial landscape could leave ordinary people unable to secure loans and mortgages, the UK government says that the newly nationalised banks will be required to restore lending to 2007 levels.

The opposition argues that this will lead to a return to the record lending levels we saw before the credit crunch began to bite, and that people will once again be able to rack up more debt than they can afford to repay.

Not so says finance minister Alistair Darling, who insists he "does not want a return to the irresponsible problems of the past."

So why did I return home last night to find a mailshot from my bank containing credit card checks at an "attractive interest rate" (almost double the rate available this time last year), which I am free to use for "unexpected bills, home repairs or even a holiday?" And why has my credit limit increased?

I'm confused!

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Filed under: BusinessFinancial markets

October 14th, 2008
09:52 AM GMT
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LONDON, England - The dow soared almost 1,000 points Monday in one of the most spectacular rallies in history.

Most of the gains came in a rocket surge in the last two hours. You would think champagne corks would be popping around the country. And yet I have not heard one analyst say they trust it. In fact many are advising clients to use it as a chance to sell and reduce their risk exposure.

Why the pessimism? The rally happened on low volume, with the bond market closed. And it was driven by the same factor which relentlessly drove us lower last week. Fear. This time investors, desperate to make up lost ground, are afraid to miss any rally.

We may be near the bottom, but few on Wall Street think Monday's rally is sustainable.

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