The UK has an unfortunate reputation for clasping vipers to its bosom, from Karl Marx to modern religious terrorists. But some might say the same goes for its financial sector - the lack of transparency here, of which I've complained more than once, allows problems to develop unchecked, as Brad Setser comments:
Had there been an international “early warning” system that was on the ball – and had the UK been willing to collect the data on flows through the UK in the face of inevitable complaints that such efforts would drive business abroad – it might well have picked up on some of these flows as a sign of brewing trouble in global financial markets.
At one of my old College's Gaudies (class reunion) a few years ago, a City financier complacently and cynically remarked that the UK was always going to have a strong financial community, since it has hundreds of years of experience in "shaving" its customers in subtle ways.
I don't think the Brits have a monopoly of greed, dishonesty and duplicity, and we see now the rotten fruits of their technical expertise. The UK National Defence Association may imagine we can concentrate on financial services and turn the rest of the country into a living museum; I say that just as we need to wean ourselves off coal and oil, so we must reduce our dependence on the old swindlers; no more fossil fuels, no more fossil fools.