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Green warns on quick fixes

HSBC chairman Stephen Green has warned that quick-fire attempts to impose stricter regulations on financial institutions risk doing more harm than good if they are implemented without due consideration of the consequences.

Speaking in an interview ahead of the World Economic Forum conference in Davos later this month, Green said creating a stable financial system was of “profound importance for us all”.

But he cautioned: “There is understandable political drive to have quick answers; there is understandable thirst on the part of the public, that has been so bruised by what’s happened in so many ways, to get quick fixes. But the truth of the matter is that this is far too important to do quickly. It is much more important to do it right.”

Green’s comments come after the Obama administration unveiled details of its punishing new banking levy yesterday, under which it will tax 15 per cent of the liabilities of financial firms with assets of over $50bn in order to recoup government bailout losses.

And UK banks will also have to cough up 50 per cent of bonuses over £25,000 to the Exchequer, under plans outlined by chancellor Alistair Darling in his pre-Budget report in December.

Green also said banks should take responsibility for their role in creating the unstable conditions that led to the economic crisis.

“We have to learn the lessons about liquidity; we have to learn the lessons about adequate capitalisation; we have to address some accounting issues,” he said.

The World Economic Forum takes place in Switzerland between 27 and 31 January.