Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King has always refused to take the blame for the financial crisis, choosing instead to direct his anger elsewhere.
However, on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme Lecture this week, he came closer than ever before to accepting some role in the crisis, saying: “So why, you might ask, did the Bank of England not do more to prevent the disaster? We should have … With the benefit of hindsight, we should have shouted from the rooftops that a system had been built in which banks were too important to fail, that banks had grown too quickly and borrowed too much.”
You may well be asking yourselves: is this an apology or not? And that – at least, initially – is what many in the media scratched their heads over, too.
That was reflected in the varying reactions. Sky News reported the story by saying “Sir Mervyn’s comments represent more of a half-apology”. Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor said that Sir Mervyn had “blamed a range of other people”. Journalists on the hunt for soundbites then went to David Blanchflower, formerly of the BofE’s Monetary Policy Committee, who accused Sir Mervyn of being “disingenuous”.
This was hardly the coverage that King would’ve wanted to issue from a lengthy broadcasting session that was meant to be all about him setting the record straight. But really, he has been lucky to escape scrutiny for so long.
As King is the only real policymaker from the early days of the financial crisis who still holds the same role, he’s probably going to have to field a few more media questions for some time to come.