Excellent piece of argumentation from The Guardian:
A fair amount of nonsense was talked yesterday about the Northern Rock deal, most of it from the two parties involved. George Osborne was touting the sale of the first casualty of the credit crunch as \”value for money\”. The description makes one wonder just how the chancellor approaches his own Christmas shopping. The Newcastle bank had £1.4bn of taxpayer money pumped into it, and its main part is now being sold for £747m, which with time and luck might rise to £1bn. However one holds this deal up, it still represents a loss to the state. Even if everything goes to plan (a big if, given the state of the financial world), taxpayers have just handed over £13 each to the billionaire Virgin boss Richard Branson. They, rather than the chancellor, can judge whether that is a bargain.
Rightie ho, it\’s being sold too cheap. Only £747 million.
What yesterday\’s deal emphatically is, however, is a very curious one. Why was the news sprung now? The chancellor did not explain. How far did the government and its bank-holding agency UK Financial Investments explore alternatives such as turning the Rock back into a mutually owned building society?
The better answer would have been to give it away, not get even the £747 million.