Is that very funny how the G20 is doing it again? As the crisis unfolded, some 'out of line' people suggested that banks should perhaps be treated as utilities. They were wiped off the table. Now, that it is becoming clear that the largest economies of the world will again fail to harmonise real policy action, they are pledging to clamp down on the banks together instead. The previously marginalised view of regarding banking services as utilities is returning via plans to increase capital requirements. Banks will be asked to put down more money to back their actions.
The trouble with all of this, is that there is no distinction being made between banking services that aims at the domestic market and banking services that are essentially international in nature: global financial hubs. While there is merit to the idea that domestic economy focused banking provides general services not dissimilar to some characteristics of utilities, it would not be too difficult proposition to defend that the regulations around that part of the industry were in most countries in not too bad shape. Arguably, the US and the UK perhaps were exceptions, but their troubles would not have necessarily translated into a global recession. It was the second form of banking, namely that with global coverage and global reach, that caused the negative spiral. There is no reason for us to believe that this bit of finance has anything to do with being a utility. (Perhaps far in the future, this may change, but it is definitely not the case now.)
It seems, another opportunity is being missed.