Simon Jenkins on the Royal Mail privatisation (here):
The Royal Mail offer was 24 times oversubscribed. The 330p price soared 38% to 455p within hours. More than £750m drained into the pockets of speculators. Never can the British taxpayer have been ripped off so soundly in so short a time.
Within weeks of the sale, Goldman Sachs's own analysts were predicting a price of 610p, almost twice what the "advisers" had been advising. The government had been shockingly ill-advised. As the price went up past 600p, Cable kept dismissing it as "irrational exuberance, froth, speculation". He indicated everyone should wait until the price came down. It is now 562p. Worse, he had allocated bundles of shares to 16 City institutions on a "gentleman's agreement" that they would hold them as "a core of high-quality investors who would be there in good times and bad". Within weeks, over half this stake had been sold, and to precisely "the hedge funds and other speculators" that Cable had pledged to keep out. Just four of the 16 are still big shareholders.
Cable was massively naive. On Tuesday he protested that he was merely showing caution against "risk of failure". I can hear the City laughing.