1 DECEMBER 1984, Page 19

Cooke's tour

There's a green-eyed yellow banker to the north of Kathmandu, There's a little marble vault below the town, And nowadays they have a banking supervisor too, To see that no depositor's let down. This explains the appearance of Peter Cooke in the role of Sane Carew. Mr Cooke is the Bank of England's supervis- ory supremo, and — since he chairs the committee of his opposite numbers in other central banks — the supervisors' supervisors' supervisor. In Kathmandu, he has been warning the banks that no base for their business is as sound as their shareholders' money — least of all, bor- • rowed capital, whose lenders, for all the world like bankers themselves, reserve the right to retrieve their umbrellas if ever it comes on to rain. Banks which run risks (like guarantees) which do not appear on the balance-sheets need not think that Mr Cooke is not watching them. You would have thought that by this time the burned banks would have learned to dread the fire, but apparently not. A year or two back Mr Cooke was telling them not to squander their money on dividends. How cross they were! How right he was! But why tell them in Kathmandu? Because it is refreshingly far from J*hns*n M*tth*y? Or is it a burgeoning financial centre? My first intimation of this came at Dubrovnik airport, after the IMF meeting in Belgrade, when Jugoslav Airlines lost all the dele- gates' luggage, and mine too. A small and determined lady in tartan trousers insisted that her suitcase must be found now, since she had to leave for Kathmandu the following morning. Our complaints were received with indifference, which I sought to redress by pulling rank. 'May I tell these people,' I asked her, 'that you are the Governor of the Central Bank of Nepal?' `Yes,' said the lady in tartan, 'You may. I am.'

Christopher Fildes