Please drink, gamble and fornicate responsibly

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

UK debt far worse than USA's

Reading Richard Murphy's Tax Research website, I see that Paul Krugman has graphed UK public debt since 1900 and really, it's implied, we're not in that bad a situation right now.

But you have to look at the total weight of debt in the economy, not just the government part. McKinsey did this in January and as of Q2 last year, the UK's total debt-to-GDP exceeded 500%, putting us pretty much on a par with Japan and far above eight other major economies:


And we don't have an industrial - and industrious - base like Japan's.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities. DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

UK debt far worse than USA's

Reading Richard Murphy's Tax Research website, I see that Paul Krugman has graphed UK public debt since 1900 and really, it's implied, we're not in that bad a situation right now.

But you have to look at the total weight of debt in the economy, not just the government part. McKinsey did this in January and as of Q2 last year, the UK's total debt-to-GDP exceeded 500%, putting us pretty much on a par with Japan and far above eight other major economies:


And we don't have an industrial - and industrious - base like Japan's.

Yet more on drugs



From Cartoonbrew

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Computer security: it's your choice

(From my own developing experience)

or...


... by the brilliant XKCD: http://xkcd.com/350/

How the mainstream media kills stories

I wish I'd known of John Ward before.

In this reminiscence today, he has Andrew Marr effectively burying the Brown antidepressants story by asking him about it - carefully contexted within the eyesight discussion - in a way that Brown could deny, i.e. did he, like many people, take prescription painkillers (semi-muttered addition: "... and pills to help them get through").

br />

Ward continues:

I emailed Marr three times to ask why he had asked that particular question. I never received a reply. But I did get a phone call from my BBC contact saying, “I’m afraid you’ve learned a lesson today – the use of media aperture to kill a story you don’t like”.

Not to mention super-secret injunctions, when it suits you, Mr Marr; though as a prominent journalist it may also suit you at other times to argue strongly for the right to ask awkward personal questions and demand answers. As he wrote of the late Ruth Picardie back in the 1997 days when "things could only get better":

She was curious. She was rude. She asked awkward, embarrassing questions, including about herself, and didn't flinch from nasty answers. And embarrassing questions are good, the lifeblood of journalism. Without them, we are duller, stupider bipeds.

Perhaps I shouldn't be too severe. Life has a way of hitting us in the face with our own words.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Stamford Bridge

We stood on a little jetty at the end of a private garden. The caged fowl beside the public footpath were silent. Shaded by branches, midges circled above the eddying stream. Static caravans lay haphazardly on the other bank, like cast runes.

Near here, said the leaflet, stood the original Saxon bridge, where a Viking warrior held off Harold’s army, buying time for his countrymen to scramble into position on the rise behind us. Some say he slew up to 40 Englishmen, a Biblical number.

Was he a swordsman, like the name and sign on the local inn? Or was he a giant berserker, whirling a great two-handed war-axe, both weapon and shield?

And how was he killed? Legend has it that someone got into a half barrel and floated underneath the bridge, thrusting a spear up between the planks. One can imagine the Norseman jerking onto tiptoe and dropping his blade, others jumping forward to hack him down.

Battle-memory is sharp. Back home, survivors would relate his story, acting out the planted feet, each mighty movement, the raging face. His fame would live.

As would his family. A young son might become a king’s ward, then an honoured house-carl; a daughter would have suitors for the hero’s blood in her veins, and as was iron custom, his widow’s neighbour would plough her field before his own.

Almost a thousand years have passed, and all has changed. In 1066, there was no village here; now, there are buildings of brick and stone, metalled roads, other vegetation and a different climate. Even the river will have altered, in its shape and the composition and depth of its silt.

And so has the cosmos. The glittering bridge over which his soul would pass to the Hall of the Slain (Norway was then only part-Christianized), is now an arm of the Milky Way, around which the Earth, part of a solar system unimagined in his day, has since moved trillions of miles in its quarter-billion-year orbit. More of the outer reaches of the ever-expanding Universe are now receding faster than light, so that the glint of long-extinct stars, quasars and galaxies can never reach us. All that is, is moving away from what is observed to what is recorded, then to speculation, myth and oblivion. Yet his brave deed is still remembered.

So, why is he anonymous? The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes him simply as a Norwegian, and the early 13th century Norse account omits him entirely. No bard inscribed him on eternity’s roll. Yet we still know the name of Horatius Cocles, who held back the Etruscans while the bridge into Rome was demolished, 1,500 years ago. Perhaps this Viking is an invention by one who understood narrative, and how stories of vast conflict need intensifying moments of delay, and an interlude at the personal scale before returning to the broader historical vista. Besides, the heart always soars at the contemplation of those who scorn certain death.

He may have been real, nevertheless. The Chronicle’s reference is matter-of-fact, and makes his action merely a rearguard defence after the death of Hardraada. But was he really here, by this shallow, narrow, island-divided branch of the Derwent?

Or, as some say, did the battle occur a mile further downstream, at what is now Scoreby, a Roman settlement straddling a wider stretch of river spanned by a bridge? That would seem a more likely place for Hardraada and Harold Godwinson’s rebellious brother Tostig to wait complacently in the warm September sunshine for further hostages and supplies from York, following their victory at Fulford five days earlier. Their forces were resting on both sides of the water, and their body armour, presumed no longer necessary, lay 15 miles away with their ships, at Riccall.

It was in this condition that the English King surprised them, having marched 185 miles from London in only four days. The occupiers on the west bank were quickly slaughtered, the remainder of the army assembling their overlapping “board-wall” and, perhaps retreating to the 100-foot rise at High Catton, resisting the attack for hours, before fragmenting and being routed. King Harald’s throat was pierced by an arrow, as (according to tradition) King Harold’s eye would be, nineteen days later; Tostig also perished, along with the overwhelming majority of the invaders.

Stamford is overshadowed by Hastings, but it was one of those hinges on which history turns. What might have happened, had the Norwegians won? Would Hardraada have gambled for the whole country, fighting William of Normandy? Had Tostig planned to be the King’s vassal, or to divide the land diagonally into Danelaw for Hardraada and some sort of Anglund for himself? Would that have lasted? Or would England have faced a series of episodes of civil strife and invasion worse even than the merciless elite-decapitation and folk-oppression of the Normans?

Had the Scandinavians succeeded, what would our language, law, custom and culture be today? Impossible to imagine.

So, reflecting on a man who might never have been, a place where something may not have happened, and a landscape which scarcely resembles that of a millennium ago, we took our souvenir earthenware mug with its horned-helmeted axeman and our misleading printed guide, and joined the queue at the lights to cross a bridge that probably had nothing to do with events that made us what we are today.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Starve the beast


Labradors are just naturally greedy. Whatever you give them they'll eat, and if you don't restrict their diet, pretty soon you'll have a coffee table on furry legs. It's not good for them or kind to them.

Whereas bankers are capable of restraint: as recently as this January, RBS boss Stephen Hester turned down a bonus worth almost £1 million. He and Bob Diamond are good examples to set our much-loved but undisciplined pets.

Prisons: a reply to Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchen's first item today is inspired by a touchy-feely recruitment poster for the prison service:


... Pasted up in an Oxfordshire byway, I found extraordinary proof of what most of us have long suspected and what politicians always try to deny (above). We are now so soft on wrong-doing that the wicked must be laughing at us.

It is a recruiting poster for prison officers. Beneath a picture of two smiling, kindly types in uniform sharing a jolly moment are the words: ‘Father figures. Agony Aunts. When you’re the closest to family anyone’s experienced in a long while, it becomes less of a job and more of a calling. Prison officers. People officers by nature.’

It continues: ‘Gaining the respect of offenders isn’t a skill you can learn. It’s something you need to have in you already: that ability to build rapport with a broad range of characters and ultimately make a breakthrough.’

The Ministry of Injustice, whose name and superscription are on the poster, have confirmed to me that it is really theirs. There you have it. For the worst people in the country, we hire ‘agony aunts’ and ‘father figures’ whose job is to ‘gain the respect’ of people who have repeatedly trampled on the rights and freedoms of their neighbours.

For the rest of us, death and taxes, indifference, inefficiency, scorn and an array of decrepit, slovenly ‘services’, which grow worse the more we pay for them.

Why, exactly, do you vote for the people who are responsible for this? I’d love to know.



To which I comment:


For once, I have to disagree with Peter, in relation to the first item. We should look to deal with what caused so many people to be imprisoned - so many prisoners have previously been "in care" and/or have lower levels of literacy and/or have mental health problems.

I'm sure there are many who would be dissuaded from crime by a realistic expectation of conviction (for a first offence, or at least an early one in their series) and punishment, and the traditional approach could work for them.

But there are many others who are in a spiral of self-loathing and destructive behaviour because of a lack of loving care, and I think a higher proportion of them end up in the prison system because they have despaired and the connection between behaviour and sanctions has broken.

The prison system needs reforming - when did prisoner-on-prisoner bullying and violence begin? Not in the days when they were strictly segregated even in chapel. And forcible buggery is not a judicial punishment, despite the leering threats made by officials to young offenders in all those police movies.

Jail is a punishment in terms of deprivation of personal liberty and loss of daily contact with loved ones; it is a deterrent for those considering similar offences; and it is a protection for society, during the time that offenders are kept inside.

But unless we're prepared to hang prisoners, or jail them for life, we need to do something about their addictions, their mental and emotional dysfunctions and their lack of employable skills.

And then we need to look at the dysfunctional society from which they come, and to which they will usually return: one that doesn't do much to support families and marriage, and employment (especially of men, because of how they are when they have nothing constructive to do).

Monday, May 07, 2012

UK money supply growth hits historic low

Issued 2 May, the latest Bank of England quarterly M4 figures plumb new depths - remember, M4 had NEVER been negative from 1963 on, until the credit crunch in 2009.


INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

UK money supply growth hits historic low

Issued 2 May, the latest Bank of England quarterly M4 figures plumb new depths - remember, M4 had NEVER been negative from 1963 on, until the credit crunch in 2009.


INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

Silver as a protection against the powerful

Some days ago, the King World News blog posted an interview with the octogenarian Mexican billionaire, Hugo Salinas Price. He says "full-blown socialism" is on its way. Some might read the results of the recent French and Greek elections in that context.

There comes a time in a successful old man's life when he starts to ride a hobby-horse, whether it be philanthropy or politics. Sir James Goldsmith, dying of cancer, spent his last energies urging a British referendum on membership of the EU, having previously and presciently warned (in 1994) of the social instability inherent in the GATT agreement that set the labour forces of nations against one another. For all his faults, such as they may have been, I think that was a heroic finish.

Mr Price's horse is sound money, and he has worked long to reintroduce silver to Mexico as at least an alternative to fiat (paper, symbolic) money. In February he was interviewed by James Turk of GoldMoney and explained that this would be silver money with a twist: no face value expressed in currency terms. That is because when silver rises in price, it tends to be melted down for its scrap value; so the Libertad coin issuance is in various degrees of weight of silver content. He tells Turk that even if it is accepted as a partner with fiat, it won't necessarily be used in daily commercial exchange; instead, it will be held, as a store of value.

Why is this important? Because private property is a bastion against the powerful. In this latest interview, Price notes that Italy and Spain now ban cash purchases larger than 2,500 Euros, and refers to the US food stamp system as "ration cards": all part of a drift towards the State seizing control of commercial transactions.

The trouble is, States and big businesses become a threat when they join hands. As Marc Faber said (on King World News, again): "Near the end of a society or civilization, they typically become very corrupt. Either the government runs the businesses or the businesses run the government." Faber's hobby-horse is doom - perhaps this old man's conceit has persuaded him that the world will end shortly after he does; one can only hope that in this, unlike previously in other matters, he will be proved wrong.

What I find interesting about Price is that his is no simple redneck damn-Commie outlook: he sees socialism as merely a means used by an elite to continue in their position of power over the rest of us. They have made us dependent on a welfare state largesse based on corrupt money, and will move to a more naked form of control when the financial system breaks down. Since (he says) socialism is less efficient, this means declining resources (especially post Peak Oil) and therefore, ultimately, a dwindling world human population. That process of dwindling is easily referred to, but would be so hard to live through; perhaps we face a Spring and Autumn Period; I very much hope not.

But remember, this is not primarily about socialism; it is about power. From 2008 on we have seen businesses take over government, from the way Hank Paulson and his banker friends bullied Congress into re-voting to ensure that the first $700 billion of public money was paid via TARP, to the EU central bank installation of puppet financial regimes in proud independent States like Greece and Italy.

So, in a pseudo-capitalist phase, the businesses run the government; and then, in a faux-socialist aftermath, government will run business.

The people doing this will be essentially all of one class: I started saying to friends some years ago, that we are witnessing the reconstruction of a pan-European (perhaps I should have said, global) aristocracy. The bankers, politicians, journalists, advisers are dining and sleeping together, intermarrying, living in great houses and sailing fine yachts; and don't know the price of milk. They may ride bikes in public, forget to wear ties, slur their speech in demotic imitation; but it's all like Harold Wilson as PM, stubbing out his cigar and seizing his pipe as he strode from Number Ten to be photographed by the Press. The ones who lead the mob to supplant them are their brothers and sisters, under the skin. And the hereditary principle is stronger among socialists: look at peerage-renouncing Tony Benn and his constituency-inheriting son, look at Peter Mandelson and his vaunted descent from Herbert Morrison (possibly even the throne of Poland), look at North Korea. The sense of entitlement stinks to high heaven.

Yet, if only the mice could bell the cat, the solution could be so quick. Debt forgiveness (or repudiation); mutual debt cancellation (since a debtor to one is the creditor to another, in a great international web); or simply starving the beast, by shifting our deposits to more responsible banks.

But fundamentally, holding your own money means it is not the creature of a central bank (created out of debt), or a government's (created out of nothing, by printing). Despite the high price of silver and gold, I find myself leaning to their promise of a degree of wealth preservation in an increasingly unstable economic (and political) system.

INVESTMENT DISCLOSURE: None. Still in cash (and index-linked National Savings Certificates), and missing all those day-trading opportunities.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content.

Silver as a protection against the powerful

Some days ago, the King World News blog posted an interview with the octogenarian Mexican billionaire, Hugo Salinas Price. He says "full-blown socialism" is on its way. Some might read the results of the recent French and Greek elections in that context.

There comes a time in a successful old man's life when he starts to ride a hobby-horse, whether it be philanthropy or politics. Sir James Goldsmith, dying of cancer, spent his last energies urging a British referendum on membership of the EU, having previously and presciently warned (in 1994) of the social instability inherent in the GATT agreement that set the labour forces of nations against one another. For all his faults, such as they may have been, I think that was a heroic finish.

Mr Price's horse is sound money, and he has worked long to reintroduce silver to Mexico as at least an alternative to fiat (paper, symbolic) money. In February he was interviewed by James Turk of GoldMoney and explained that this would be silver money with a twist: no face value expressed in currency terms. That is because when silver rises in price, it tends to be melted down for its scrap value; so the Libertad coin issuance is in various degrees of weight of silver content. He tells Turk that even if it is accepted as a partner with fiat, it won't necessarily be used in daily commercial exchange; instead, it will be held, as a store of value.

Why is this important? Because private property is a bastion against the powerful. In this latest interview, Price notes that Italy and Spain now ban cash purchases larger than 2,500 Euros, and refers to the US food stamp system as "ration cards": all part of a drift towards the State seizing control of commercial transactions.

The trouble is, States and big businesses become a threat when they join hands. As Marc Faber said (on King World News, again): "Near the end of a society or civilization, they typically become very corrupt. Either the government runs the businesses or the businesses run the government." Faber's hobby-horse is doom - perhaps this old man's conceit has persuaded him that the world will end shortly after he does; one can only hope that in this, unlike previously in other matters, he will be proved wrong.

What I find interesting about Price is that his is no simple redneck damn-Commie outlook: he sees socialism as merely a means used by an elite to continue in their position of power over the rest of us. They have made us dependent on a welfare state largesse based on corrupt money, and will move to a more naked form of control when the financial system breaks down. Since (he says) socialism is less efficient, this means declining resources (especially post Peak Oil) and therefore, ultimately, a dwindling world human population. That process of dwindling is easily referred to, but would be so hard to live through; perhaps we face a Spring and Autumn Period; I very much hope not.

But remember, this is not primarily about socialism; it is about power. From 2008 on we have seen businesses take over government, from the way Hank Paulson and his banker friends bullied Congress into re-voting to ensure that the first $700 billion of public money was paid via TARP, to the EU central bank installation of puppet financial regimes in proud independent States like Greece and Italy.

So, in a pseudo-capitalist phase, the businesses run the government; and then, in a faux-socialist aftermath, government will run business.

The people doing this will be essentially all of one class: I started saying to friends some years ago, that we are witnessing the reconstruction of a pan-European (perhaps I should have said, global) aristocracy. The bankers, politicians, journalists, advisers are dining and sleeping together, intermarrying, living in great houses and sailing fine yachts; and don't know the price of milk. They may ride bikes in public, forget to wear ties, slur their speech in demotic imitation; but it's all like Harold Wilson as PM, stubbing out his cigar and seizing his pipe as he strode from Number Ten to be photographed by the Press. The ones who lead the mob to supplant them are their brothers and sisters, under the skin. And the hereditary principle is stronger among socialists: look at peerage-renouncing Tony Benn and his constituency-inheriting son, look at Peter Mandelson and his vaunted descent from Herbert Morrison (possibly even the throne of Poland), look at North Korea. The sense of entitlement stinks to high heaven.

Yet, if only the mice could bell the cat, the solution could be so quick. Debt forgiveness (or repudiation); mutual debt cancellation (since a debtor to one is the creditor to another, in a great international web); or simply starving the beast, by shifting our deposits to more responsible banks.

But fundamentally, holding your own money means it is not the creature of a central bank (created out of debt), or a government's (created out of nothing, by printing). Despite the high price of silver and gold, I find myself leaning to their promise of a degree of wealth preservation in an increasingly unstable economic (and political) system.

In for a penny, in for a pound

It seems that the British pound was originally based on a pound weight of silver, equivalent to 240 silver pennies (or "sterlings"). I remember the old pre-decimal penny (which was 12 to the shilling, and 20 shillings made a pound) - though it had long since ceased to be made of silver.

Currently, 99.9% pure silver is being bought at £0.53 per gram. A pound weight of silver (454 grams) would therefore fetch £240.62.

So an old silver penny is worth a new British pound.


An 11th century (Edward the Confessor) penny

But the increased efficiency of modern production and distribution has made things cheaper today:

- Petrol (currently c. £1.40 per litre) would, in silver terms, cost 6d/gallon - a third cheaper than in 1896! And that's despite the fact that, these days, 60% of the pump price of petrol is taxes.
- Artisan bread from Asda (currently 78p for 400g), equates to £1.13 for a full pound weight (454g) - a little over one silver penny. Whereas in the year 1758, the old best quality (white) "penny loaf" got you only 6 ounces 2 drams weight, or 174 grams; so a pound weight of the same would now cost 2.6 silver pennies - more than twice as much pro rata as that Asda loaf.
So we've had inflation, but also a drop in prices.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Those gold-plated public sector pensions that are ruining us

The Office of National Statistics (htp: The Spectator's "Barometer" column) has calculated that pension obligations in the UK amount to £7.1 trillion, or nearly 5 times GDP.

Unfunded public sector pensions - the so-called "gold-plated" ones - account for a mere 11.90% of the total.



Saturday, May 05, 2012

Simon Heffer has gone mad

From today's Daily Mail:

"Most people are quite content with things the way they are."
"I am delighted Tony Blair is re-engaging with British politics."

I rest my case. Careful with those straps, gentlemen; easy does it; now the syringe.

Why I voted UKIP

In our ward, it didn't make any difference, this time round, although the UKIP candidate did beat the Conservative into xth place.

But I take a wider view.

Withdrawing from the EU is essential: it's quite clear that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work. Yet even now the EU continues in that path.

Let's take one example: Mervyn King told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on 27 March:

"The current proposals that were put forward by the European Commission would have made it impossible for any regulator, say in Sweden or in the United Kingdom, to impose higher capital requirements on its own banks in order to protect domestic taxpayers. If you have a large banking sector and the consequences of its failure would be much more damaging to domestic taxpayers because they would feel compelled to bail the banks out, in that situation—as Switzerland has done, and indeed so far as Sweden has also done, and as Vickers recommends for banks behind the ring-fence—to have a higher level of capital than previously would simply make sure that you had a safer banking system, which would help to protect domestic taxpayers. Since there is no suggestion that European taxpayers are going to pick up the bill for a national banking system if it gets into trouble, it seems reasonable to allow national regulators to protect national taxpayers but the European Commission does not want to allow that."



If we keep voting for any of the three largest parties we'll never get past the first step.

But it's not enough. All that would do is to expose what rotters we have in Parliament. Peter Hitchens is good at noting how many of our laws arise from EU directives, yet the MPs pretend it's their decision. And at other times, they tell us that the EU insists on things where actually we have discretion. So a restoration of national sovereignty would mean no-one else for them to blame.

Then there's the voting system, so flawed that there's lots of people making very good money advising political parties how to exploit it. Funny how they all got together to keep out the Alternative Vote. Better Buggins' turn than all be thrown out in favour of some new political force; though as the origin of that phrase indicates (see link), the current corrupt system could be the reason for the catastrophic collapse.

And the weird boundary system, too. Until the boundary in my constituency was changed, you could vote for anything you liked but you'd get Labour. You'll still never get Conservative here.

Which brings me to the electorate. Thomas Jefferson advocated any political system that fully reflected the will of the people, even if that meant revising the Constitution from time to time. But the franchise in his day was nothing so widely extended as today. Democratic government throws itself on the mercy of the people, and that places a reliance on the people's intelligence, their level of education and access to information, and willingness to debate reasonably and abide by collective decisions.

Well, maybe we're sunk, then.

But it is better to be defeated in an honourable cause, than prosper in corruption.

And besides, if the people have more say, more often, in matters that affect them, this will educate them.

So, UKIP - and the feelings and as yet not fully defined principles behind it - is a start.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Foreign cinema news

Despite the success of "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen", which has also boosted tourist interest in that area, the Egyptian Film Board is reportedly "disappointed" at the reception of its own recent release, "Catching Crabs in Alexandria".

Suspicion of the day

Those who publicly demand freedom are secretly seeking power over others.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Gun murders revisited

Yesterday, I grabbed some Wiki data to look at whether a higher rate of gun ownership means a lower chance of being killed with a gun. I divided one by the other and it didn't look like the argument stood up.

Today I'll do it a different way: I'll MULTIPLY one by the other, on the assumption that if the theory is correct, one figure gets lower and the other gets higher, so the line should be reasonably even, even if it might be angled (I'm sure a statistician can put me right, but at least I'm trying). Here's the data:


... and here's the graph (in block form):


The last 5 on the right leap out of the trend. My explanation is that higher rates of gun murders are more a function of lack of social cohesion and weak official control. What's yours?

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Osborne: Bankers face payment by results

A startling recent report from the Daily Telegraph outlines a radical shakeup of the banking system by the Chancellor, George Osborne. I reproduce the text below (N.B. our spellchecker has identified and corrected a number of errors in the course of transcription).
__________________________________________________________
Poor bankers could be paid less than competent colleagues under government plans to improve standards of commercial banking.

Ministers want to link pay to performance in the boardroom as part of a new drive to improve results and attract the best graduates into the profession.

A cross-party group of MPs today says that a new payment by results system is needed to stop the worst bankers hiding behind a “rigid and unfair” national remuneration structure.

“Results” would include not just profits but measures such as how much progress client businesses make, corporate governance and credit ratings.

Last night, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, disclosed that Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, had already asked the FSA, which analyses national remuneration packages, to set up a new Walker-style review and “make recommendations on introducing greater freedoms and flexibilities in bankers’ pay, including how to link it better to performance”.

Mr Osborne said the Government welcomed the MPs’ report “into this important area”. The review body is expected to deliver its recommendations by September.

In the report published today, the Treasury select committee says bankers should be rewarded for “adding the greatest value” to customers’ businesses and be given paid sabbaticals to further their skills.

MPs claim the reforms would address fears that poor bankers are having a “very significant” impact on businesses’ long-term prospects. The report quotes international research which shows that the worst bankers could cost business people and millions of employees their livelihoods and life savings.

Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford University in America, has shown that an excellent banker can help local enterprises thrive and create employment, whereas a poor one will drive his customers into receivership.

The British Bankers’ Association is strongly opposed to any attempt to alter pay and conditions. However, the committee’s report says: “No longer should the weakest bankers be able to hide behind a rigid and unfair pay structure.

“We believe that performance management systems should support and reward the strongest bankers, as well as make no excuses — or, worse, incentives to remain — for the weaker. Given the profound positive and negative impacts which bankers have on national economic performance, we are concerned that the pay system continues to reward low performers at the same levels as their more successful peers.”

They want the Government to draw up proposals for a pay system that rewards those adding the greatest “value to the performance of enterprises”.

Marcus Agius, the chairman of the British Bankers’ Association, said: “Payment by results is total nonsense. Our customers are not tins of beans and banks are not factory production lines.

“Successful banks rely on a collegiate approach and team working. Performance-related pay is not only inappropriate but also divisive.

“Business people differ and startups differ from year to year, making it impossible to measure progress in simplistic terms.”

There are currently 5 major banking groups in the UK, and about 20 others. Although an element of performance-related pay already exists, ministers are now looking at enhancing rewards for the best.

Currently, bankers in London can earn up to £1.25 million. but see their pay rise to £8 million with other perks and bonuses. Earlier this year, Natalie Ceeney CBE, the chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service, said too many bankers – more than 90 per cent – were allowed to pass the test. “The thing that irritates good bankers, people who work hard and go the extra mile, is seeing the people that don’t do that being rewarded,” she said.

In December, it was reported that just no bankers judged to be incompetent over an 18-month period had been sacked.

In further recommendations, the report says a “sabbatical scholarship” programme should allow outstanding bankers to take time out to work in a different bank, undertake research or refresh their subject knowledge. It is also suggested fund managers and quantitative analysts be allowed to lead training sessions for university students as part of a system of “banking taster classes” to show them the benefit of a career in the profession.