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The Moorgate saga: Herbie goes private

Hillboot Strictly Private Banking, Moorgate, London EC2 (Representative offices in Grand Cayman, Lugano, St Petersburg, Vatican City)

This is the big idea I bring home with me from Washington, private banking, Boot Hill Style, the missing link in our markets, tailored to our customers' needs but at our price, the last of the old-fashioned margins, boy, we make a mint.

I always fancy the idea, a guy in the Bankers' Club explains it to me over a second martini, Herbie, he says, just pretend your bank is a Boeing 737, well then, you give some of the customers antimacassars, and metal cutlery instead of plastic, and a complimentary service of domestic champagne, and charge them several times the regular fare, now is that good business or do bears go to the bathroom in the woods?

Until now I never figured out how to apply it to our markets, our clients like their creature comforts but are kinda picky about margins, but it is meetings time again and off I go to Washington to deliver my keynote speech to the g30, it plays well except with old Camdessus, he does not buy my forecast that the imf goes bust, all right, Michel, I ask him, how come you want new capital and more liquidity when every other bank has them coming out of its ears?

Well, after this Paul and Geoffrey and I and some of the committee adjourn for lunch, and the talk varies to Jim and his new plan to stamp out corruption, no World Bank money for countries that are not straight up, and do any of us think this can fly?

I say I know just how the Bank tackles corruption, a whole heap of guys get together in the gleaming new office they build for themselves, and hold meetings and form study groups and in the end write a report and print it on glossy paper in five languages and figure that the job is done, if I have my hand in the till 6,000 miles away in Africa this does not frighten me too much.

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