Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
THERE’S a Belgian/French bank out there called Dexia. No, I’d not heard of it until a couple of days ago either. The reason I have heard of it, the reason it’s in the papers, is because it seems to be going bust.
At times during Tuesday’s trading session in Brussels, Dexia shares changed hands for less than €1 and at the close were quoted at €1.008, marking a 22.5pc fall for the day and close to a 60pc drop since the beginning of the year.
The collapse in Dexia’s market value, which currently stands at €1.96bn (£1.68bn), came as François Baroin, France’s finance minister, and Didier Reynders, Belgium’s finance minister, issued a statement saying they would “take all necessary measures for the security of depositors and creditors” and would “guarantee financing raised by Dexia”.
There’s two problems here, the second making the first much worse. The first is that they’ve blown most of the money, the capital of the bank that is, on buying Greek etc government bonds which are now worth 50%, 30%, of what they first paid for them. So the bank is teetering around being bust, having exhausted or nearly so all of its capital reserves.
WE’RE told today that Tube drivers deserve their £50,000 a year pay packets because, well, because they deserve them:
But the drivers who take the millions of Londoners and visitors and tourists to their destinations every day are unsung heroes and heroines. They should be recognised as such in their pay packets, which the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union is still in the process of finalising, not least for having to deal with the lurking possibility of a “one under”. That’s what’s so special about those guys.
As the comments in The Guardian point out, you don’t in fact get £50k a year because people die in front of you: ask a few nurses, paramedics or Marines how much they get paid.
Fortunately, the Guardian has a piece where they detail what it is that they are demanding:
Their message is very clear and simple: get money out of the political process; strive for equality in taxation and equal rights for all regardless of race, gender, social status, sexual preference or age. We must stop poisoning our food, air and water for corporate greed. The people on Wall Street and in the banking industrial complex that destroyed our economy must be investigated and brought to justice under the law for what they have done by stealing people’s homes and savings.
Jobs can and must be created. Family farms must be saved. The oil and gas industry must be divested of its political power and cheap, reliable alternative energy must be made available.
Cowell’s health lotto frenzy – He snaps up 5,000 tickets – Daily Star
Why I’m backing the New Health Lottery – Daily Express
The Express’s Giles Sheldrick is on message:
SIMON Cowell has a knack for spotting a winner and last night The X Factor creator backed The Health Lottery to transform the lives of millions of people across the country.
“I thought it was one of those great ideas that can make a real difference and to show my support I’ve bought 5,000 Health Lottery tickets. Raising £50million in the first year is going to help a huge amount of people and if my numbers come up I will put the money back into the charity.”
The Star’s Nigel Pauly is impressed:
Simon, whose TV talent shows have brought the world chart- toppers Leona Lewis, 26, Susan Boyle, 50, and JLS, is famous for his acid-tongued put-downs of hapless wannabes. But he had nothing but praise for Britain’s newest lottery game.
Five grand for all that publicity and halo polishing is not a shabby investment.
OF course, this may have something to do with the attitudes of women who take their husband’s name and those who do not. But the choice can affect your job prospects:
Even after controlling for education levels and work hours, a woman who took her husband’s name earns less — €960 compared to €1156.
A study showed:
Despite the fact that other than their name choice the women were identical, the participants overwhelmingly described the woman who had taken her husband’s name as being more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional and (somewhat) less competent. Not necessarily qualities you would seek in a potential employee.
WANT to know what George Monbiot earns? The Guardian oput the news on its front page. He published a ”registry of interests“. Tim tells us that Monbiot earns £75,000 a year gross or thereabouts.
As opposed to a Toynbee which runs at £116,000 I’m told, or a Rusbridger which is £500,000 plus bonus and pension contributions.
WHEN Hippy communities die out… Or rather why eaglitarian societies lose out to unequal ones. The basic problem is that equal societies, being equal, are reasonably happy. So they never go and do anything. Unequal societies have lots of pissed off people who then bugger off elsewhere, thus expanding that society and killing off the more equal ones.
That’s the explanation that these blokes are putting forward at least:
Agent-based simulation results show that in constant environments, unequal access to resources can be demographically destabilizing, resulting in the outward migration and spread of such societies even when population size is relatively small. In variable environments, stratified societies spread more and are also better able to survive resource shortages by sequestering mortality in the lower classes.
Oh and that second point as well: when there’s the hard times in an unequal society the poor die: in an equal one everyone gets weak and thus more likely to get wiped out by the next tribe over.
WE’VE all seen that lovely video where Bill Nighy can’t work out why there shouldn’t be this Robin Hood Tax thing. Tiny amounts, 0.1%, sliced off every bank transaction to fund all sorts of lovely things. There’s been some argument in technical circles about this of course and the split’s along the usual lines.
Those who know what they’re talking about, you know, Nobel Laureates and the like, think it’s a very bad idea, those who would just to have more money to spend, you know, like politicians, think it’s a great idea. And so we come to the European Union which has just proposed exactly such a tax, a financial transactions tax, and FTT. As Sr. Barroso says:
He added: “It is a question of fairness. If our farmers, if our workers, if all the sectors of the economy from industry to agriculture to services, if they all pay a contribution to the society, also the banking sector should make a contribution to the society.”
The Daily Mail says he is – or might be:
Was the BBC’s trader from a hell one big hoax? Claims greedy dealer praying for a recession in which to get rich was a FAKE
“Rastani said the stock market was “toast“. Rastani said:
“The governments don’t rule the world – Goldman Sachs rules the world.”
To take an example from Ed Miliband’s ideas at the Labour Party conference. As background, and I know you’ll find this hard to believe, British politics is remarkably free of corruption. I speak as one who has worked in both the US and Russia and believe me, a few dark corners of the occasional local council aside, brown envelopes and cash bribery really aren’t part of the British political scene.
Ed seems to want to change that:
He will tell delegates in Liverpool: “Let me tell you what the 21st-century choice is: are you on the side of the wealth creators or the asset strippers?
“For years as a country we have been neutral in that battle. They’ve been taxed the same, regulated the same, treated the same, celebrated the same. They won’t be by me.”
While not spelling out the detail of how venture capitalists in particular could be assessed, Mr Miliband believes that a tougher tax regime could be imposed on some firms deemed less responsible than others.
RECESSION? Goldman Sachs rules the world. So says Alessio Rastani. He says you can make money from a downward market. He also says – and see below the video – that you can hire him to help you:
YES, yes we all hate bankers. After all, they’re the ones who got us into this whole mess, aren’t they? So, we’ve got to rein them in, force them to our will, instruct our politicians to tell them what to do.
Well, so much for that. The FTSE 100 fell as much as 1.7 per cent this morning, while overnight the euro and Asian stock markets tumbled, after Europe’s leaders announced their grand 2-trillion-euro plan over the weekend to drag the Eurozone out of the mire. It appears the markets are well past the point of believing that political leaders can get us out of this mess. The consensus is that the plan is not concrete enough.
Now it’s true that FTSE has recovered but that doesn’t change the basic insight of the observation.
YOU knew it was coming: as soon as someone suggests that perhaps having only 2% of England covered with houses we might make 3% of the country so covered….to bring down house prices, provide everyone with a garden, that sort of thing….those who already have large houses with large gardens will complain.
You know, the “concreting over of the countryside”, the National Trust on the march, all that. My problem with these people is not just that I don’t believe some of their arguments: I don’t believe that they’re stupid enough to believe their own:
That policy exceeded all expectations, with up to 80 per cent of new homes constructed on such “brownfield land” in recent years – up from 55 per cent in 1989. Between 1995 and 2007, 117 square miles of it were developed for housing; had this been on “greenfield land” instead, an area of open countryside more than six times the size of Southampton would have been swallowed up.
ARE we screwed? Growth’s in the toilet, countries are going bust left right and centre and they’re going to take the entire banking system down with them and…..well, no, hang on a minute. Have a look at this one little statistic:
Things aren’t looking that great for the rest of the world either. There isn’t a single upward revision to be seen, and global growth has been revised from 4.3pc to 4pc.
Now yes, we’re wondering whether the UK economy is going to grow at all this year, the US might manage 1% growth and Greece has shrunk by 5% (or if we use the usual Greek attitude to economics statistics, elebenty percent) but global growth is carrying on at 4% ish.
WHY would you pay 4,200 % APR on a Loan? Strangely, the answer is because it could be cheaper than getting an unauthorised overdraft from your bank.
Wonga, the short-term loan business, claimed last week that it was more transparent than the banks, after the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) said customers were confused by the welter of charges associated with their current accounts.
Errol Damelin, the founder of the company, said customers could not compare the cost of borrowing money in the short term when the most common way of doing it was through a bank overdraft.
Wonga is forced to display a representative annual percentage rate (APR) for its loans of 4,214pc. However, Mr Damelin said that, because it offered loans limited to 30 days, the APR was not relevant, and the loan was often cheaper than unauthorised bank charges for the same amount.
At this point our real problem is that we don’t in fact know what is was that he did wrong in order to get into this mess: but something stupid almost certainly. In a little bit of a surprise for those like me who think that the lefties at The Guardian are entirely ignorant not just of finance but of basic numeracy, their reporting today is rather better than that of the Telegraph’s.
Anyway, let me try to put together a guide to some of the jargon for you. All that ETF, Delta-1, futures, options, market making and the like. And let’s stick with something simple, gold, to use as our explanation.
EUROBONDS are “absolutely wrong” for the crisis. So saith Angela Merkel:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel bluntly rejected euro zone bonds as a solution to the currency area’s sovereign debt crisis, saying on Thursday that “collectivizing debts” would not solve the problem.
This doesn’t really leave any palatable options for resolving the crisis. I’m not even sure that it leaves any unpalatable options for resolving it.
Put aside all the bits and pieces you’ve read over the past year or so and just think about these few things.
1) Greece is bust. Portugal, Spain and possibly Italy could follow them. Ireland’s a special case as it might, just, be able to climb out of its hole. Well, we know what we do with bust companies, we declare them bankrupt and wipe out their debts. We can do this with countries, indeed we’ve done it hundreds of times over the centuries.
JON Snow was hyperventilating away last night about how it’s just so appalling that we’ve not thrown any bankers in jail yet.
In one month, hundreds of rioters and looters have been prosecuted and punished by the English courts, often for offences with a value of under fifty pounds. Yet the threat to the wellbeing of UKplc was far greater from the bankers than from any number of more arrestable rioters.
There is a strong impression abroad that the UK doesn’t want to prosecute anyone for the banking crisis, a crisis that has affected every tax payer in the Kingdom.
Soon enough the statute of limitations will kick in to ensure that no-one will ever be prosecuted for their role.
Then we can all breathe easy – no banker will ever go to jail, and we can stop asking the nightly question, ‘why not?’
HERE’S a little handy cutoutn’keep chart for you explaining all the fuss that’s going on about reforming the banking system.
Yes, that’s right children. Most of the banks that did have a casino banking operation didn’t fail. And most of the banks that did fail didn’t have a casino banking operation. So, making sure we don’t have more banking failures by ring-fencing casino from high street banks doesn’t seem to be doing anything very much useful, does it?
No, not abolish immigration, this isn’t the BNP newsletter. Rather, the one big thing, the biggest thing in fact, that we could do to grow the world economy is to abandon all immigration restrictions.
That’s the outcome of a new research paper at least. In economic terms the argument is sound and beguiling. A very large part of how much you earn, how much you can produce, what your labour is worth (all, roughly, synonyms for each other) comes from where you had the good or ill fortune to be born.
IT was the BGC Partner’s 7th Annual Charity Trading Day, at Churchill Place in Canary Wharf, east London.
Eva Herzigova and Kelly Brook provided the sex appeal. The Cheeky Girls reminded the City boys that not all East European girls from a bikini is a uniform are are pole dancers. Prince Harry did the larks and worked hard on his ambition to be seen as one of the lads. His former squeeze (he was pictured groping her boobs) Natalie Pinkham added a little class. And then we caught sight of Princess Beatrice, the Duchess of York and Princess Eugenie. Their picture requires a caption.Your best efforts, please…
NOW, OK, this is a trivial little thing on its own. But it is symptomatic. Indicative if you like, of how you go about completely and entirely fucking an economy over.
The nanny state impulse runs strong in the Golden State, where the State Assembly has passed a bill that would virtually regulate babysitting out of business. After 2 hours of babysitting, a mandatory 15 minute break must be give, meaning that a stand-by babysitter must be present. Then there are the paperwork requirements, and the severe penalties that kick in for any parents who fail to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
Yes, I agree, babysitting is a fairly trivial part of the whole thing. But both here and in the US we’ve been making these sorts of rules for well on a century now. The idea that we don’t send the kiddies down the mines is easy enough to accept: the idea that a 19 year old looking after the kids while you go for dinner and a movie requires a rest break every two hours is insane.
But what’s getting him today is that there’s a reform of the planning system in the air. This, according to him, means that the bastard plutocrats will be able to build all over this green and pleasant land and once again the bastard plutocrats will make pots of money.
Strong planning is one of many factors, but it is symptomatic of a political culture that puts the national interest above the self-interest of the rich and the long view above the quick buck. Pickles and Osborne are seeking to rip up England’s planning system for the same reasons that they want to drop the proposed new banking rules: corporate power, cronyism and plutocracy, the forces that got us into this mess.
Erm, no, not really, In fact entirely the other way around.
I’ve been having an extended shouting match with a bloke called Richard Murphy for years now. He’s set himself up as the arbiter of all things economics and tax and would now like to tell us all how to run the country. It’s not a bad ambition for a retired accountant from Wandsworth.
However, the problem he’s got is that he cannot in fact follow logic. Try this for example:
And I know markets are full of people who are as clueless about what will happen next and who are as willing to fly by the seat of their pants as the person setting out to climb a mountain without a map or guide. They’re not wrong to do that – it’s just what has to happen in a world of uncertainty. But in that same world of uncertainty (which neoliberals do not think exists) there has also to be firm government action under the direction of politicians who know they have been elected to make decisions.
You know how everyone likes to go on about how the banks are all thieving bastards, corrupt to the core, hang them all and close ‘em down?
Even, why haven’t there been more prosecutions?
Well, the answer to that last question is because while they were all very silly there wasn’t in fact much going on that was illegal.