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Darling speeds to the rescue

An imagined conversation at Whitehall: Alistair Darling and Sir James Crosby sit in a plush office at the Treasury.

Darling: So what do we do about the mortgage market?

Crosby: You need to guarantee mortgage-backed securities created from new mortgages. It will convince investors to buy them, which will give mortgage lenders more money and the market can start moving again. Right now literally millions of people are having trouble finding a new mortgage because the lenders simply can’t afford to lend.

Darling: Hmmmmm…..(long pause)….yes…..I remember this idea from last year. So will it work?

Crosby: Yes, I am confident it could make the mortgage market come to life again.

Darling: OK……hmmmmm…..right…..OK…..well maybe….

Crosby: But something has to be done now. It is imperative that you move quickly.

Darling: Right……OK (long pause)….well…..we might guarantee mortgage-backed securities.

Crosby: So when will you start?

Darling: Let me talk to a few people, Sir James, and I will get back to you.

(Darling slowly turns to his phone and slowly dials a number)

Hello? yes….hmmmm…..yes….guarantee securities…..hmmm….OK. Goodbye. (Darling puts down the phone)

(Darling slowly gets up and walks slowly across the plush office and retrieves an antiquated calculator from a bureau. He slowly walks back to his seat. He puts the dusty calculator on the table and slowly turns to his phone and slowly dials a number)

Hello? Morning….hmmmm…..how much do we have? Yes….(Darling taps in numbers into the calculator)….72….4…divided by 10…..hmmm….OK. Goodbye. (Darling puts down the phone)

(to Crosby) I need to call someone else.

(Darling slowly turns to his phone and slowly dials a number again)

Hello? We think we might guarantee mortgage-backed securities….hmmmm…..yes….guarantee securities…..hmmm….OK. Goodbye. (puts down the phone)

(to Crosby) I need to ask the European Commission.

(Darling slowly turns to his phone and slowly dials a number)

Gutentag? Oui…..can we guarantee mortgage-backed securities?….hmmmm…..yes….guarantee securities…..hmmm…..gut….OK. A bientot. (Darling puts down the phone)

(to Crosby) It might take a while.

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