Impunity – June 20th 2015

How many more great scandals will we have to endure before someone readily, and without duress, puts their hand up, admits mea culpa and makes a decent effort of falling on a sword? FIFA is the latest example of gross feeding at the trough with the arrest of most in the higher echelons for excessive consumption of wonga. It took some further journalistic digging (why did it take so long guys?) to dislodge Sipp Bladder from the top. The Irish FAs decision to accept a “cash recompense” to climb down from an indefensible attack on fair play is a classic own goal….and adds to the litany of two wrongs don’t make a right.

Enough football! It’s now officially the cricket season…a game where the rules are the rules and umpires decisions only get overturned by machines not programmed to systemically cheat. But over in banking world FIFA could only dream of such free money. We have already been through one banking crisis in recent history and have learned very little from it other than the fact that banks are generally immune form anything approaching equality in the eyes of the law. Well before Lehman was driven over the cliff, the problems were there for all to see from Bernanke (“the subprime debt issues seems to have been contained”) down through the U.S. Treasury, the SEC and the White House. The regulators in the UK and Europe were also fast asleep and or acquiescent to the impending denouement. Juncker infamously owned up to lying when it suited his book and politicians everywhere were selling their souls to big banks and business; peddling influence in return for “support”.

Lehman begat TARP which was sold to the Hill as an absolute imperative to save the U.S. economy, but all the money ended up with the banks or was used to bail out the likes of AIG which, by lucky coincidence, saved GS’s bacon. Then we had three versions of QE again used to goose bank balance sheets by eliminating toxic junk bonds and providing a ready conduit for evermore issuance of government debt. Trillions of dollars and the economic recovery is a shadow of where it should be in a normal economic cycle.

Greece perhaps highlights the reason why; piling debt upon debt just doesn’t work. The U.S. has not quite reached the point where it can’t sell more Treasuries, but if Greece is dealt a Lehman hand watch out below. Italy, Spain and France are all in precarious positions despite “better” GDP numbers and people are getting increasingly fed up with politicians, who have little integrity and run their countries for the benefit of the few not the many.

Another 5 years with a Tory majority will emphasise that point here, but in all probability too late. The NHS will have been privatised, our lives will come under more and more scrutiny in the name of public safety ( it’s all for your own good you know…) and big business will control every other aspect of our lives after they have made sure that we stay in the EU. The press will parrot the politico/corporate meme and the handful that do question what’s going on will be labelled non-violent extremists and ridiculed roundly…or worse.

Anyone else out there want to stand up and be counted? Ask your MP for a copy of their entries on the House of Commons benefits register and ask if there is anything there that might influence the way they vote or rally to a particular cause. Ask your doctor how his practise is funded and what support he receives from big pharma and how that might influence his drug prescription routine. Ask your local councillor to list the ways in which the council might increase their introduction of mutually run schemes rather than outsource to the ever growing big corporates; local government should be for the benefit of local people should it not? If your (account or shareholder) bank was one of those involved in rigging LIBOR (they have paid huge fines with your money, but no one at the top has accepted responsibility and resigned as a result or been indicted for a gross felony) you might like to ask them how they going to recompense you for paying or receiving the wrong rate of interest or redress the reduction in corporate profits.

You probably won’t get many answers as politicians of all colours are past masters at not answering them and corporates can spin you into a corner faster than you can say conflict of interest, but it might be fun trying! Do let me know how you get on.

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