Here's the real significance of Barclays' floated move into the US retail banking market - they're betting that the Volcker proposals, which would enforce the old separation of retail and investment banking, are going to get nowhere. How could Barclays, with its vast and risky investment banking division, possibly be approved for a US retail banking licence if any serious version of the Volker proposals are introduced? The answer is, it couldn't. Barclays appears to be assuming that the financial services lobby will beat back a plan that the US President explicitly backed in January.
My colleague John Rentoul argues below that Nick Clegg's analogy in The Spectator between the destructive and undemocratic power of the vested interests of the banking lobby and the destructive and undemocratic power of the vested interests of the UK trade unions in the 1980s is "so deeply flawed at so many levels". He doesn't explain why. I think he should - because I believe that there's a wealth of evidence, not least Barclays' latest adventure, which suggests that the analogy is actually a rather good one.