Don’t get too excited, it is only a little, but it is good news.
In a recent ruling by British regulators, the top executives and managers at banks operating there (which is practically all the major banks) could have their bonuses clawed back for up to ten years after any finding of misconduct. It will also prohibit bonuses for nonexecutive directors and for the managers of companies that are receiving financial support from the government.
The move, which is long, long overdue and still does not go far enough, extends a seven-year clawback period that one regulator, the Prudential Regulation Authority, (part of the Bank of England), introduced for so-called variable pay (read ‘bonuses’) last year as part of tougher accountability rules.
The new rules announced by the authority, which is part of the Bank of England, and by another regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, are the latest effort by financial regulators in Europe to hold the banksters accountable for improper actions that could play a role in precipitating future financial upheavals.
The regulators say they are trying to “embed an accountable culture” in the City of London, which actually means that the authorities realize that the banksters have learned nothing from their previous catastrophic frauds and thefts. They know when the chance arrives these greedy and immoral people will try to do it all again.
The new British rules, which apply to banks, building societies and investment firms regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority, including British units of United States banks and other financial firms based outside Europe, mean that senior managers, risk managers and others at banks will also be asked to defer more of their variable pay for a longer period, making it easier for regulators and financial institutions to recover bonuses if misconduct is uncovered.
Other countries in Europe are also enacting new regulations for their banksters. Dutch lawmakers, for example, capped bonuses this year for employees in the banking, insurance and other finance sectors that limits variable pay to 20 percent of their fixed salaries. The Dutch have also banned bonuses for executives at bailed-out banks.
European rules already limit bankers’ bonuses to the equivalent of their annual salaries, or to two times their base salaries if the company’s shareholders approve it. But they know they are so greedy that they will try to find ways round that.
Already some banks are making moves to get round the limits by introducing role-based remuneration and other payments, so the regulators have their work cut out for them keeping a step ahead of the thieves.
What they really need to do is confiscate ALL their ill-gotten gains, impose severe additional financial penalties AND throw these criminals in jail – for a long time.
America, which always likes to consider itself as the leader of the world, should lead in this regard too. It would be better than starting another war in some far off God forsaken country.
Unfortunately I think it will be an equally long time, and a lot more frauds, before they get to that much needed stage.
Around this time last month I wrote a post about the explosion of sub-prime credit for people seeking automobile loans they couldn’t afford. Here’s a link if you missed it – click here.
They say that if you don’t learn from what happened in the past you are doomed to repeat it. And it is clear the banksters have learned nothing, mainly because the government was not man enough to teach them a lesson when they almost brought the country to its knees. Their greed was excused and rewarded, not punished in any meaningful and lasting way.
So now we have the auto loans credit explosion, which is another mini sub-prime disaster in the making. And again it is being egged on by the stupidity and greed of Wall Street who just can’t pass on the chance to reap big profits from those people silly enough to take their high interest loans.
This time, however, it turns out some of the people in positions of power are beginning to recognize that this is becoming a big problem.
The regulators and prosecutors are starting to worry about the level of lending abuses. Not only that but they are also recognizing the similarities with the home loans fiasco that eventually resulted in the financial crisis.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has recently fined subprime auto lender First Investors Financial Services Group Inc. $2.75 million for knowingly providing inaccurate information to credit reporting agencies for at least three years. It was a “computer error” don’t you know, and, of course, they paid the fine but without admitting any liability – perish the thought!
It should come as no surprise that First Investors Financial Services Group is owned by a prominent New York private equity firm.
And like the mortgage sub-prime fraud, the banksters and other money men are not only screwing the people who take out the loans, but once again they are re-packaging them up as “good investments” for their richer clients too.
A United States attorney in Manhattan, has already begun an investigation into whether lenders have sold questionable auto-loan investments to investors, and has sent subpoenas to General Motors Financial and Santander Consumer USA, to try to find out whether the lenders fully disclosed to investors the creditworthiness of borrowers whose loans made up the complicated securities.
Last time they got away with it. Will this time be any different? You have a lot more faith in the system than me if you think it will. All that is happening so far is tokenism. They need a lot more than a slap on the wrist.
In China or Vietnam and some other locations banksters committing fraud are stood up against a wall a shot. That’s maybe a little harsh, but at the very least some serious jail time is in order.
The fact is the banksters are doing it again because they think that they can get away with it again. And if they get away with it this time, then they’ll do it yet again in the future. All the time racking up fortunes for themselves and leaving the other poor sods, who didn’t know any better than to take out their loans or buy their toxic investments, a lot poorer.
Anyone who has been following this story that I posted about a few days ago, (here if you missed it), will know that the European Union bureaucrats made an attempt to steal the savings of the Cypriot people right out of their bank accounts.
With at least one eye on their chances of being re-elected, the Cypriot parliament rejected the proposal out of hand. The proper thing to do no doubt, but there is also no doubt that this will not be the end of it. Indeed the fallout continues.
Western governments are desperate because of the financial mess that they and their bankster accomplices have created. And desperate governments are known to take desperate measures to try to patch things up.
Look out for more attempts by these governments to steal your money, whether it be in the form of savings in the bank, government bonds, stocks or in pension plans. Nothing is safe from the clutches of these thieves.
The goings on in Cyprus has already proven their intent and alarm bells have begun to sound among those who are awake and paying attention.The bureaucrats’ attempted money grab has already sparked off suspicion and panic throughout Europe and elsewhere as to the amount of trust people can have in their governments.
Even among the financially stronger nations the trend is clear. In Germany, for example, a recent opinion poll showed that the majority of Germans do not trust their leader, Merkel’s, pronouncements that their money is safe in a bank.
Throughout Europe those who can are moving their money to offshore locations away from the thieving hands of their own governments. Big corporations, including US corporations, are doing the same.It has already happened in Ireland and Spain and France and, to a lesser extent, in the UK too.
What a sad commentary on how these stupid politicians and bureaucrats have mismanaged our affairs.
Will it hit America as well?
That depends just how stupid the political administration in Washington really is – which is perhaps a kind way of saying, please err on the side of caution if you are an American citizen.
The $ as a currency will probably be okay for a while, despite the humongous debt that Obama is piling up, but eventually it will become impossible to print their way out of trouble.
All those highly paid morons and herd followers called ‘money managers’ who work for the various funds that you entrust your savings and pensions to, and who do little more than buy up T-Bills with it, may find that their strategy is going to backfire. Like the banksters, however, they will still charge you a fee for looking after your money whether they invest it wisely or lose it all.
But whilst the bureaucrats will never be able to figure out how to run an economy – their, “take more and more taxes out of less and less income” strategy will never add up – eventually the penny will drop with the good citizens and they will waken up and realize they have been completely shafted by incompetent politicians and greedy banksters.
Then the brown stuff will hit the fan – big time – and people will get real mad. And then the powers that be will have no choice but to turn on their own citizens if they are to cling to power. Preparations for this started under Bush and now Obama has added even more legislation to make this possible.
It is a rather bleak scenario, particularly for those who choose to ignore what is happening around them. But whether it happens in one year or another five, if the politicians and bureaucrats do not wise up – and their is little sign of them doing that especially when they have yet to realize how incompetent they are – it will happen.
So start to think seriously about your own circumstances and what you can do to protect what you have from thieving governments. Or just settle down and get another 40 winks assured in the knowledge that those in Washington, Brussels, London and Berlin know what they’re doing.
We all happen to be living during a time when there are great advances and changes being made in the way we live our lives. Some of them are to our benefit, other not so much so.
Politically and financially the world is in turmoil. There is an accelerating and inevitable shift of power and influence towards the east, with former great powers like Britain and America declining in their influence and their economic might.
Perhaps that is a natural phenomenon, after all as they say “every dog has its day”, but I happen to believe that a lot of it is due to stupidity and mismanagement allied with a self-defeating philosophy that the west somehow has a duty to police the world and to create nanny states for its citizens where they will neither have to work nor want.
Technologically there have also been many changes and many more to come. During the past twenty years with the advent and growth of the internet everything has changed, from the way we interact socially, to how and where we work, and how we manage our affairs whether that be banking, shopping or whatever.
What a lot of these changes mean is that future generations will have no idea of how our lives used to be. Already many of us who have lived through the changes have forgotten how we used to have to do things. What would it be like trying to explain the ‘old days’ to a generation with absolutely no point of reference to the world we were born into?
To remind you of how it used to be here is a list of some of things we have known and lost, consigned to the rubbish bin of history. Feel free to add your own items to this list of things that your grand-kids will probably never know.
Libraries as a place to get books rather than a place to use the internet.
Dewey Decimal System
Finding books in a card catalog at the library.
A physical dictionary — either for spelling or definitions.
Reference books such as phone books, encyclopaedias
Finding out information from an encyclopedia.
Having to manually unlock a car door.
Looking out the window during a long drive.
Using a road atlas to get from A to B.
Getting lost in a world without GPS.
Being able to add and subtract without a calculator
Long division and multiplication
Trig tables and log tables.
Phone books and Yellow Pages.
Phones with actual bells in them.
Not knowing who was calling you on the phone.
Super-8 movies and cine film of all kinds.
Video tapes and renting movies
Inserting a VHS tape into a VCR to watch a movie or to record something.
Vinyl records. Even today’s DJs are going laptop or CD.
CDs and DVDs
Playing music on an audio tape using a personal stereo.
Taping songs off the radio
Rotary tuners that scanned the radio dial and hearing static between stations as you went through the ether.
Rotary dial televisions with no remote control. You know, the ones where the kids were the remote control.
Waiting for the television-network premiere to watch a movie after its run at the theater.
The buzz of a dot-matrix printer
5- and 3-inch floppies, Zip Discs and countless other forms of data storage.
Booting your computer off of a floppy disk.
Tweaking the volume setting on your tape deck to get a computer game to load, and waiting ages for it to actually do it.
Counting in kilobytes.
Having to delete something to make room on your hard drive.
Waiting several minutes (or even hours!) to download something.
When a ‘geek’ and a ‘nerd’ were one and the same.
Being able to get a domain name consisting of real words.
Writing a check.
Doing bank business only when the bank is open.
Shopping only during the day, Monday to Saturday.
Being able to buy something in Walmart that isn’t made in China
Being able to take a drive or walk down the street without being surveilled on numerous cameras
Not knowing exactly what all of your friends are doing and thinking at every moment.
Carrying on a correspondence with real letters, especially the handwritten kind.
The fact that words generally don’t have num8er5 in them.
Putting film in your camera
Sending that film away to be processed.
Having physical prints of photographs come back to you.
I haven’t had a rant for a while, so one is long overdue. Here it is.
I’m sure hardly anybody noticed, but last week the bureaucrats in Washington effectively shut down the web site Intrade for US citizens. Intrade was the popular web site that any adult, including Americans, could use to wager on the future price of certain commodities, like gold or oil.
Effectively the bureaucrats have now made it illegal to solicit Americans to buy and sell commodity options contracts unless they are listed on an exchange registered with them or on one designated as legally exempt by them, and they have taken upon themselves the power to regulate nearly any commodity-related activity unless Congress provides a specific exemption.
Of course the politically well connected investment banks and hedge funds into which the great and the wealthy put their money can carry on as before speculating on the price of everything from pork bellies to platinum and manipulating gold, currency, oil and other markets. The recent MF Global scandal really puts that beyond reasonable doubt.
Intrade is just the latest move by the bureaucrats and the thought police to restrict the freedom of American citizens. Not so long ago it was the online gambling websites, then New Zealand based Megaupload was targeted, then banking in any offshore jurisdiction, now the Ireland based Intrade, and tomorrow, well, who knows.
Maybe the ever sensitive morons in the thought police will try to stop you reading blogs critical of their asinine bureaucracy? Oh, oh, gulp!
The way they are acting is nothing short of a complete perversion of the concept of a government with limited powers. But are the liberals, who should be in the forefront of upholding such principles, falling over themselves to defend the ordinary people?
If and when this type of interference happens in China or North Korea or somewhere similar, they are rushing to get on to their high horses to condemn and ridicule.
But back in Washington they are busy trying to create an inefficient and bureaucracy-ridden nanny state that they know will necessitate clamping down on individual choice and freedom, if it is to even stand a chance of making it look as if it is working.
To add insult to injury the bureaucrats make their usual claim that they are taking these steps for “your own protection”.
Why is it that the steps the bureaucrats take in the ”public interest” never seem to turn out to be in my interest or in the interest of anyone I know?
By the way, in case you are wondering, I have never used Intrade, it’s not my kind of thing and I don’t know enough about that field to speculate with any consistent degree of success.
But I would appreciate the freedom to make up my own mind on the subject, instead of having the faceless and less intelligent bureaucratic thought police dictate the decision for me.
We all know how successful the Volstead Act was at the beginning of the last century, but the bureaucrats learn nothing from their mistakes. And they never will, because their desire is not to do what is right or just or even sensible, their desire is to create an ever growing bureaucracy which they control.
Home of the brave? No doubt about that when you see the young people who are willingly putting themselves in harm’s way to help to defend the nation.
There was always something wrong with the phrase “All men are created equal”.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful aspiration but it’s just not true. Yes everyone should have an equal chance to do what they want to do and have equal rights, which I think is really what the phrase is meant to say.
But for better or worse people are not created equal. Some are academically gifted, but they couldn’t screw in a light bulb! Other people can wire up an entire house or building effortlessly, but academically don’t perform. There are people with natural practical skills and people who are exam passing machines. One isn’t better than the other – just different.
Sadly western society’s answer to the fact that we are different is to try to make us all the same and that just does not work. In Britain for example, the government’s answer was comprehensive education. Piling everyone in to the same classes, where no one could learn faster than the dumbest person in the room. In the US there is little financial incentive to attract talented teaching staff, without which the standards in schools cannot progress, quite the reverse in fact.
On the other hand, for many years in communist regimes where everyone was supposed to be the same, those who had a talent, whether athletically and otherwise, were given far greater encouragement to development than the rest.
If you have a gift or talent for playing a musical instrument like the violin or piano you should be allowed to study in a specialist music school. If you have a gift or talent for academia you should be allowed to progress through university, get your PhD and cloister yourself away doing research that may or may not have practical applications that you will never realize. If you have practical skills you should be encouraged to learn a trade to enable you to earn a good living doing something you are good at and enjoy. And if you have an entrepreneurial flare you should be assisted and encouraged to create companies and employ people, not hampered by stupid bureaucrats who try to enforce even stupider and unnecessary government regulations and restrictions on you.
And so on, and so on.
All this can be illustrated, as can most things, with a graph called a normal distribution curve (sometimes also referred to as a “standard deviation curve”). This is just a fancy name for a graph that shows that the vast majority of people are relatively close to “normal” in that they conform more or less to a standard, whether that be IQ, height, weight or whatever.
Take intelligence for example. At one extreme end of the IQ scale (say less than 1% of the population) you have the Einsteins and Mozarts whose gifts in their respective categories are well beyond the norm. And at the other end of the scale you have the people who do not express a talent for anything. Certainly not anything productive and useful.
These are the people who invariably are employed by the government and big corporations and who quite often unnecessarily make our lives a misery. We have already looked at some examples of these people in this blog, and will no doubt do so again.
On the other hand there are people like the painter on the scaffolding whose dumbness serves, perhaps to frustrate a little, but mostly to entertain.
Our late friend from yesterday, George Carlin, expressed the problem very well. George said, “Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!”
Here are a few other examples.
There was the guy, identity unknown, who in 1976 made the most unsuccessful hijack attempt ever. On a flight across America, he rose from his seat, drew a gun and took the stewardess hostage.
“Take me to Detroit,” he demanded.
“We’re already going to Detroit,” she replied.
“Oh… good,” he said, and sat down again.
Or the three British men who, in August 1975, were on their way in to rob the Royal Bank of Scotland at Rothesay, when they got stuck in the revolving doors. They had to be helped free by the staff and, after thanking everyone, sheepishly left the building.
A few minutes later they returned and announced their intention of robbing the bank, but none of the staff believed them. When they demanded 5,000 pounds in cash, the head cashier laughed at them, convinced that it was a practical joke.
Then one of the men jumped over the counter, but fell to the floor clutching his ankle. The other two tried to make their getaway, but got trapped in the revolving doors again.
And just in case you think I’m just picking on the unfortunates in the US and UK, what about 52-year-old Walter Schoegl, the drunk bank robber in Mainz, Germany, who tried to hold up his local bank armed with a water pistol and a potato peeler, and with a stocking over his head?
He demanded cash, but left with nothing after the bank teller told him that the bank had run out of money.
When he was arrested about five minutes later he was still wearing the stocking on his head.
And finally, a short scene showing a similar kind of bank raid. It’s from the 1989 movie “Three Fugitives”, if you haven’t heard of it or seen it, it’s well worth a look.
We talked before about banks. I have a feeling they will feature from time to time in a blog like this because nothing and no one has done more to mess up the lives of ordinary decent people.
On a national scale they have lost fortunes, used their political influence to make even stupider politicians bale them out with OUR money and without our permission, and are now proceeding to lose another fortune, whilst at all times paying themselves huge bonuses for their incompetence.
On this occasion I was in my local branch. The branch where I set up my accounts. The branch where they know me, and have done for years. The branch where I visit, maybe once a month now, it used to be a lot more frequently but what with internet banking nowadays there isn’t so much need to go there in person.
But that day I’m in the bank, in person. I have two accounts, a current account with check book and debit card and a savings account also with a debit card. Both debit cards are identical except for the numbers.
First order of business that day was to lodge a couple of checks into my current account. Somebody had actually paid me for doing something. Hurrah!
I handed over the current account debit card and the checks and the girl behind the teller’s counter logged everything in, I signed a deposit slip and she gave me the card and receipt. Easy-peezy!! (Not sure how to spell that, but never mind.)
I wanted a little bit of cash too. So I took my savings account debit card out of my wallet, set it down on the counter and told the girl, the exact same girl, what I wanted.
“Do you have any I.D. ?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“I need to see some form of identification,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Hello,” I said. “H-E-L-L-O!!! It’s me. I’m here in front of you and have been for a while. You remember I’m the guy who just deposited those checks into my account?”
Thankfully she remembered. We were getting somewhere.
Or were we???
Nope, I guess not. She still couldn’t give me my money without some ID. And of course I hadn’t any on me, never thought it would be needed for a little job like this.
There were other customers waiting to be served, but I didn’t care. I felt compelled to try to expose the absurdity of what was happening as best I could.
I took a small step back from the counter.
Then I took my current account debit card out of my wallet again and placed it in my left hand. I did the same with my savings account debit card, only placing it in my right hand.
I held up my left hand clutching the current account card, explaining what it was, and said to the girl,
“Now you know who I am, right?”
She agreed. She couldn’t see what was coming next, dear help her.
Then I put my left hand down by my side and held up my right hand, this time clutching the savings account debit card, and explaining to her what it was.
“Now you don’t know who I am, and I need ID before you can do anything, right?”
They may have been eager to get on with their own business, but most of the customers seemed to enjoy the demonstration. Even the guy at the other teller’s window stopped what he was doing and watched, smiling. I think he’d been through a similar experience.
I had brought the whole bank to a standstill.
“Sorry, I don’t understand,” the girl behind the counter said.
A few of the other customers could be heard giggling.
That got her flustered, but she tried to go on, by way of attempting to explain this totally pointless and idiotic supposedly security procedure.
I interrupted her.
“Look,” I said. “I have been a customer of this bank, in this branch for more years than I really care to remember. You know who I am and you’ve known who I am for years. But now, because some half-wit in your head office has sent you a sheet of paper with an “I need to see ID” box on it that has to be ticked, all of a sudden you don’t know who I am. Have I got that about right?”
She didn’t answer. She didn’t know the answer. In fact she didn’t even know there was a problem that needed an answer.
The morons they put in these jobs nowadays are only trained and capable of ticking a box, not thinking outside one, to apply a little common sense to a situation.
The only place I was heading with this girl was smack dab into one of those stupidity loops I talk about from time to time. “I need to see ID. I haven’t got ID with me but you know me. But I need to see ID. No you don’t. Yes I do…..”
I shook my head, put my cards away and turned round to apologize to the folks in the queue I had kept waiting. They were all fine about it. There were even a few mumbles of “It’s fine”, “no problem”, one guy even said, “forget it they’re stupid in here anyway”, and away I went.
I didn’t go very far. Outside the bank I found an ATM and stuck my savings account debit card into it. Thankfully the ATM machine knew me without ID. I smiled into the camera, pointed at my face and mouthed the words “It knows me”. I pressed a few buttons and hey presto, got my cash.
I think the world is a poorer place when the only sensible things you get to talk to are machines, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice!
Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.
The bureaucrats and the morons who help to run the absurd show in which we all unfortunately star at times, can and often do make one’s life a completely and unnecessary misery. Hence my blog. We need to start to fight back!
But the trouble is these idiots don’t even stop hassling you after you are dead – well, not you, of course, but your loved ones that you have left behind.
If you haven’t made a will and keep finding excuses not to, stop with the excuses and make one today. You can always change it later if your circumstances change (lottery winners contact me immediately!). If you don’t leave instructions as to how your estate is to be split up, what is to be done with you possessions, etc., then it will just be leaving a mess for your relatives to sort out. There will be a multitude of morons waiting to pounce to make their lives difficult. And it will mean increased lawyer’s fees too.
Oh yes, and cancel your credit card as well – before you die if you get the chance!
Why do I say that? Well read this story. It didn’t happen to me (well, of course, not I’m still alive and writing this blog for goodness sake!). What I mean is it didn’t happen to anyone I know, and unfortunately I don’t know the origin of the story otherwise I would happily source it. But here it is anyhow.
In January 2007 an elderly lady died. Her bank, a world renowned bank, (Citibank it was) however decided to bill her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card. Naturally, being a greedy bank, they added late fee penalties and interest on the monthly charge. The balance, which was $0.00 at the time of the old lady’s death, now became somewhere in the region of $60.00USD.
A family member telephoned Citibank and what follows is a transcript of the conversation. It may make you smile at the inefficiency, stupidity and intransigence of the employees at the bank. On the other hand it will probably make you cringe.
Family Member:“I am calling to tell you that she died in January.”
Bank:“The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.”
Family Member:“Maybe you should turn it over to collections.”
Bank:“Since it is two months past due, it already has been.”
Family Member:“So what will they do when they find out she is dead?”
Bank:“Either report her account to the frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!”
Family Member:“Do you think God will be mad at her?”
Family Member:“Did you just get what I was telling you – the part about her being dead?”
Bank:“Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.”
Supervisor comes to the phone:
Family Member:“I’m calling to tell you, she died in January.”
Bank:“The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.”
Family Member:“You mean you want to collect from her estate?”
Bank:“Are you her lawyer?”
Family Member:“No, I’m her great nephew.”
(Lawyer information given)
Bank:“Could you fax us a death certificate?”
(fax number is given)
After they get the fax:
Bank:“Our system just isn’t set up for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.”
Family Member:“Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don’t think she will care.”
Bank:“Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.”
Family Member:“Would you like her new billing address?”
Bank:“That might help.”
Family Member:“Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69.”
Bank:“Sir, that’s a cemetery!”
Family Member: “What do you do with dead people on your planet?”
Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.