When I was in my twenties, I worked on a film being shot on location in the London borough of Newham. The film itself, which starred Jude Law and Sadie Frost, was forgettable, but one memory that stayed with me was the all-pervading smell of refined sugar from the nearby Tate & Lyle factory by the river Thames.
Between July 2007 and November 2008, Newham council entered into 10 range LOBO loans with Barclays worth a total of £238.5 million. New information on the council’s controversial loan portfolio shows the impact of its relationship with Barclays, raising questions about risk management decisions.
For as long as most people can remember, UK municipal finance has been safe and boring. In the wild days of the 1980s, Hammersmith & Fulham council almost went bust speculating in derivatives, and was saved by a landmark House of Lords ruling. Since then, UK council borrowing has been tightly constrained by central government while derivative use has been banned.
Quantitative easing has resulted in collateral damage. Municipalities, public-owned entities and small companies have been damaged as a result of derivatives contracts that locked them into paying high interest rates before the full effect of QE became apparent. Investment banks that sold such contracts have been accused of mis-selling them, lawsuits are winding their way… Continue reading..