RBS set to benefit from the Andy Murray effect

It is a well-worn criticism of Fleet Street scribes that they refer to Andy Murray as Scottish when he loses a tennis match, and British during his (now frequent) triumphs.

Likewise, the City made Royal Bank of Scotland firmly Caledonian during the financial crisis but, as the bank hauls itself back towards something that can be spun as health, there are rumblings that it might not be Scottish much longer.

The theory will become topical again this week as RBS boss Stephen Hester departs and is replaced by Ross McEwan. McEwan may sound Scottish but he is, in fact, a Kiwi whose to-do list includes tasks such as the so-called "good bank, bad bank" split, sorting out RBS's accident-prone IT systems, floating its US arm Citizens and deciding whether to shut the squeezed investment bank. Also requiring thought is moving RBS's headquarters from Edinburgh, now a pressing consideration as Scotland's independence referendum looms.

He will discover some early preparation has been done. Last year, RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton told the House of Lords economic affairs committee that potential changes such as corporation tax increases might persuade the bank to move. He also said that "small countries don't often have big banks" or, put another way: if RBS is approaching a run of form, it belongs in the United Kingdom.

Has Captain Hanning made a major blunder?

Ian Hannam, the mining dealmaker lauded as a City rainmaker during the boom (but rarely since), will again play a starring role this week as his ongoing courtroom drama limps to a close. You'll recall how the former Territorial Army captain is fighting to restore his reputation by appealing against last year's £450,000 Financial Services Authority fine for market abuse, and lawyers from both sides are due to utter closing remarks on Thursday.

Even if Hannam wins, there will be those who wonder what he's really achieved. The hearing has revealed uncomfortable details such as his former employer JP Morgan Cazenove monitoring his email and telephone calls; has prompted reminders about his involvement in the disastrous Bumi flotation; and has cost the financier more than double the prospective fine in legal expenses. The court also heard him claim that he may have fabricated the contents of incriminating emails that form the case against him.

So, Hannam is either guilty of market abuse (which the City frowns on – at least when you get caught) or he misled a business contact (possibly a greater sin in the Square Mile). Neither outcome is great advertising for his new firm, which we will plug for him here. It's called Strand Partners.

Boring Bank meeting becomes hot property

Typically, you have to be a dedicated economics wonk to bother studying the minutes of the Bank of England's financial policy committee. The documents are full of tedious phrases such as "there were a range of views among members on what precisely should be disclosed from a future stress test", meaning that you are strongly advised not to read them while operating heavy machinery.

On Tuesday, however, when minutes of the FPC's September gathering are released, there will almost certainly be a leap in the number of interested readers. New subscribers will be searching for clues that reveal committee members' views on the housing market, following last week's news that the FPC must now do annual reviews of chancellor George Osborne's Help to Buy (the next election) scheme.

Help to Buy – which is ostensibly designed to assist those struggling to get on the housing ladder by providing taxpayer insurance of mortgages – was originally due to be assessed by the FPC only after its first three years.

But now the chancellor seems to have conceded the need for more regular refereeing, following criticism that the scheme might be inflationary, as it potentially increases demand for housing while doing little about supply. And you don't have to be an economics wonk to have heard of that theory.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Simon Goodley, for The Observer on Sunday 29th September 2013 00.05 Europe/London

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