The banks have admitted guilt and they are paying us back for all the dodgy deals they got into! Well, not really. Banks are, in effect, 'fessing up to having behaved fraudulently or criminally. However what 'settling' means is actually 'paying regulators to shut up and stop asking difficult questions'.
George Osborne's speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester dealt with themes we have come to expect from him: an emphasis on fiscal discipline and assurances that he is on the side of aspirational, "hard-working" people the length of the country. There were, however, also features we haven't heard before...
Doom-mongers believe politicians will choose the easy way out and put pressure on central banks to crank up the printing presses. They often point to the weakness of the international monetary system, because it is based on fiat (soft) money, which is not backed by the value from tangible materials like gold. The pessimists think a monetary system based on fiat money will rarely, if ever, exist for long because hyperinflation is inevitable.
The architect of Britain's modern welfare system, Ernst Bevin, once remarked in an interview that not only did he dislike the phrase but that in fact he believed in no such thing as a welfare state. For the sick and the elderly full provision must be made but of the unemployed Bevin argued that only the bare minimum to 'keep body and soul together' should be provided.
If something looks too good to be true, it is. If someone tells you they can conjure money from thin air, they're lying. The City of London has been both too good to be true and seemingly magically producing money for several decades, and following the latest round of revelations about bankers' slavering greed, the game, I hope, is about to be up.