3 SEPTEMBER 1988, Page 20

Quack remedies

private hands? There were a hundred ways round them, even then (they fostered the growth of the unofficial 'fringe banks', and a poisonous growth that was) and now, with money free to flow across frontiers, there would be a thousand ways. An attack on the credit cards? Barclaycard's business is static. The surge has been in house loans, which now account for three-quarters of all personal borrowing. Tight money is a tight shoe, and to see who it will pinch, see who has borrowed the money. Not manufactur- ing industry, with bank borrowings up by half the national average (companies as a class now seem to lend more than they borrow). In that time lending to construc- tion companies rose by more than half, lending to property companies more than doubled, lending for house purchase is up by four fifths. These are the borrowers who will now be sorry. Interest rates have been called a blunt instrument, but this time they look sharply and accurately directed. That is not to say that a surgically accurate blow is less painful.