It hurts every time, but we love it

So, in this fifth part, we will have a little look at the UK banks that were hit lately. This is a progression from previous parts. Not because they were linked (they might be, but I gave no deeper look at that). The important reason is that the banks are doing more than setting a trend. This is all a continuation when banks became more then service providing organisation. They became profit driven. Instead of the normal profit of continuation it became driven to the optional profit of speculation. Even though most banks would argue that this is the way to go, the Netherlands showed how their banks lost to the amount of 40 billion Euros. This pretty much covers more their current deficit. There is also the continuation of thought on the decision makers. How can we be allowed to sit down and see how a group of less than 100 took decisions that would cripple a nation on narrated limitations like ‘miscommunications’, ‘blunders’ and sheer incompetence? More astounding is that following the acts, some decided to look at advices from corporations losing utter fortunes (Source: Telegraaf, 31st October 2012).

This is not just about the fact that we are dependent on a very small group of people. We are confronted that they are just people, with needs and dark desires. A group having ‘ideal’ dreams and writing checks a lot larger than their ego could ever cover.

So what to do?

Let’s take a look at three groups.
The Bank of Scotland, The Lloyds banking group (of which the Bank of Scotland is now a part) and Barclays.

In 2012 the LIBOR scandal got a hold of many (London InterBank Offered Rate), There were accusations and proof was given. As LIBOR affects the US market and it was seen as a violation of American law. The UK version of the Telegraph reported that the chancellor had made it clear that any financial penalty imposed by American regulators must be paid for by bankers, and not the taxpayer. (Source: The Telegraph).

From my side the first thought was that it might be nice if the US cleans up its own side first. I wonder how much money they reclaimed from upper management at Lehman Brothers? Interesting is the information, that those upper level ‘demons’ (aka members of the board of directors) got overall half a billion dollars in bonuses. How much was reclaimed? An example of this is Erin Callan (former CFO Lehman Brothers) who did get a nice payout and if I can believe the NY Times a new husband and moved to a high position with Credit Suisse. Now the next is really important. SHE BROKE NO LAWS! (As far as we know). Also, there does not seem to be any evidence of any kind that she lied. She has been portrayed as a ‘girl’ who was in over her head. That is hard for me to comment on, but it does raise certain questions. There seems to be a board of directors who seem to play the multi-billion dollar game like it is a round of Parcheesi. To debunk a trillion dollar company and then walk away with half a billion should result in more than just global questions. That part is important as at the end there were dealings with Barclays who had a small non illegal windfall. Now business is business, yet it does show that a certain game that was played in the US seems to be played in the UK to the extent that is now the LIBOR scandal.

 

How does this link to the Netherlands and the UK?

Well, look at the reports on how percentage bases are calculated and how it reflects not on ACTUAL debt, but based on how these debts relate to Gross National Product and how these things influence the DOW. So it is in the interest for all to keep certain numbers high. Especially for the greed driven! This is the real problem from my train of thought. Considering what I wrote over the last weeks means that the Greedy need the DOW index to move higher and higher. Yet, all the numbers give me an indication, especially when we see a global depression that those numbers should not go up the way they do. It feels to me that other factors are influencing it all. The US with the fiscal cliff (Fiscal Abyss seems more accurate). Many EEC nations are in massive debt, and then hit with waves of unemployment, higher costs, declining standard of living and no direct prospect that this will improve. People are not spending the way they did. The housing market is breaking down in several nations and so on.

So consider the next nightmare. If the DOW index drops 4,000 points to 10,000. What then? Too many people seem to ignore parts, others want to control parts and those in charge want to rule, so when it does collapse, they maintain whilst none survive.

This same view seems to be happening now in the UK. The controlling of percentages to LIBOR is only a first. A lot of these reports like the one the BBC showed in August 2012 mentioned that this system must change. This was spoken by Martin Wheatley of the Financial Services Authority. He also mentioned discrepancies going back to 1991. This means that some level of manipulation has been going on for over 20 years. So is this about ACTUAL justice, or is it that the US had become SO desperate for as strong as a hand as possible that they pulled a Benedict Arnold against their own banking ‘buddies’. For the UK readers, Benedict Arnold is the American version of Edward Devenney.

Another party in LIBOR is Barclays. They dealt in services that rely on LIBOR, by intentional misrepresenting information they got better deals and therefor more profits. The problem is that using Derivatives in this way and the involved banks’ lending money to each other it becomes a musical chair exercise in passing pieces of paper from one bank to the other. From my viewpoint it could be seen as adding funny money to the internal till and amassing profits from something that was not there. And as they moved hand to hand, they kept the margin of profit that LIBOR offers.

So the following step is reforming this. The UK government seems to be happy to accept all upgrades that Martin Wheatley suggested. However, Reuters reported on the 28th of September 2012 that these changes would add volatility to the short term markets. They also reported that the FSA (the place Martin Wheatley is from) mentions that this standard is too entrenched to replace. It seems that banks on a global scale are too afraid to rock any boat. Is it a fear that their united spread sheets are altered to remove their layer of manipulating? If that is so then their powers would soon be diminished. It seems clear to me that markets are manipulated on several levels and those in charge are in no mood to change any of it. That situation becomes a lot more volatile when you consider the US debt of 17 trillion dollars in addition to the Fiscal Abyss. Those two, when a change is set might mean that the US could be bankrupted overnight.

 

Any claim that this will never happen is slightly moot. Here we now get back to the Netherlands where the same was claimed of the SNS Bank. It is now nationalised. Many nations should now be contemplating massive change to remove the power of banks as we can no longer afford THEIR life style.

It is interesting that the UK is under such scrutiny by the US, yet the US is nowhere near on cleaning its own banks (in my humble opinion). This does not mean that nothing should be done. And it does not mean that they should not have done anything. There is however the question on how those could be improved (as I have asked myself and on my blog in several situations).

So we get to the Lloyds banking group. In January 2013, 8 people were charged connected to a $55,000,000 corruption scandal. (Source: AP). This is not the only issue. Ian Fraser, an award winning Journalist, who reported amongst others for the BBC and Thomson Reuters has a lot more on his blog http://www.ianfraser.org. If anyone wants to question his education? Well the man was ‘shaped’ by St. Andrews (the University, not the Saint), which means he should be regarded as a member of the highest echelon in his profession. In addition, when we look at the board of directors of the banks we mentioned earlier, then we see more than just casual links. Some of them had positions at Citigroup, the FSA, The Royal Bank of Scotland, the US Treasury, JP Morgan Chase, International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and more. This seems to remain a very small inner circle in-crowd.

It is clear that a lot more has happened and even more is happening. This is not even the complete story, but we have clear evidence spanning 2 continents that several nations have a collection of banks where it is all about the profit. Looking at the ‘blunders’ where they were willing to bet the house on all of it. So I feel that clear, visible and vocal oversight of these parties is a given essential need!

Please consider this last part. The UK banks involved in regard to the corruption case and the LIBOR scandal consists of 4 of the 5 large UK banks. It sounds harsh however this implies 80% of the UK banks have prosecutable issues. This is more than a scary statistic. I would take a guess that these 4 banks are controlled by boards of directors and they would add up to less than 75 persons. What happens when they in the same fashion as the Dutch SNS agree that ‘blunders’ were made? Could the UK survive a hit that large? More important will be the question whether the results also impact their siblings Canada and Australia?

Several questions and I expect that no clear answers will be forthcoming (any day soon). A political step could be in the form of carefully phrased denials and years of closed door meetings.

For me the conclusion from what I have seen over the last few weeks is that oversight is a must, there should be a clear list of definitions that the financial world must openly agree on and that there must be an open list of those involved in those standards.

As I close this final part of my reflections, the hope is that you enjoyed these five blogs.

These series were my thoughts on the Financial Banking Blunders as set in:

  • Greed and the lack of common sense.
  • Time for another collapse.
  • The future of greed.
  • A solution by annexing greed?
  • It hurts every time, but we love it.

I will try to take an evolving look at banking laws in a future blog.

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