On Tuesday two US hedge funds took control of the Co-operative Bank and in effect ended its 170-year history as Britain’s largest mutual. Yesterday an aggressive hedge fund, deceptively entitled The Children’s Investment (TCI) Fund, acquired the largest stake behind the government in the Royal Mail. It is led by a man known for his anti-state streak in dismantling public provision which gained him and his fund the title of ‘locusts’ in Germany.
The obvious and immediate question to be asked is, whilst these are the normal machinations of unrestrained market capitalism, do these enforced takeovers serve the public interest or simply their own interests in extracting the largest possible short-term gains, irrespective of the consequences for the wider community? If the latter, as is obviously the case, then the non-bank financial sector of which hedge funds and private equity are prime examples, require radical reform. Continue reading