Osborne as usual is taking advantage of Labour’s distraction at this time to sell off RBS and Lloyds to the private sector at a huge losses to the taxpayer, to accountability of the banks, and to the future of the British economy. This is motivated by his ambition eclipse even the Thatcherite privatisation boom of the 1980s and to oversee the biggest ever sale of publicly owned corporate and financial assets in one year, as well as of course elevating his prospects for the coming Tory leadership race and premiership. But what may be good for his party and for him will certainly not be good for the country. Continue reading
The more that comes to light about the nefarious activities of the Big four banks, the more extraordinary it is that these banks (a) demand a return to business as usual (which of course caused the financial crash in the first place), (b) continue to fight back against any reforms of a dysfunctional finance sector, feeble though these measures are, (c) show not a scintilla of remorse or apology for the decade of disaster they’ve imposed on ordinary people and the economy as a whole (remember Bob Diamond’s infamous comment “It’s time to move on” as though nothing had happened), and (d) have never been held to account by prosecutions of the chief executives, finance directors and other executives responsible. This is all the more staggering when what has now been revealed is the enormous extent to which all 4 banks not only indulged in, but actively promoted, tax evasion/avoidance on an industrial scale. Barclays has 385 subsidiary companies in tax havens (36% of all its subsidiaries), HSBC has 550, Lloyds has 290, and RBS has 404! Continue reading
When because of the bankers’ crash RBS, Lloyds, Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley went bust and were taken over by the State, one of the worst indictments of the Blair-Brown governments – copied and exacerbated further by this current Tory government – was that the losses were borne by the taxpayers, but they continued to be organised and managed as though they were still in the private sector.
That was the rule operated when RBS and Lloyds were taken over in 2008-9, at a direct hit for taxpayers in bailing them out at £68bn (let alone the subsequent hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money disbursed on loan guarantees, special liquidity schemes and asset protection schemes). But rather than treat them as state-purchased assets to be managed in the national interest, an artificial quango was appointed under the title of UK Financial Instruments to act instead as executors in their commercial interest until they could be returned at the earliest possible moment to the private sector. Continue reading
Banking was the subject of a House of Commons debate yesterday. MICHAEL MEACHER spoke, and here we publish an edited version of his contribution:
The government’s contribution to this debate seemed to me to be almost totally devoid of any new, serious content. The record of the banks over the past five years has been so riddled with abuse of power, criminal malfeasance, reckless speculation and pervasive mis-selling of financial products. Facilitation of contrived tax avoidance on an industrial scale. The rigging of the LIBOR and Euribor interest rate benchmarks. A growing and dangerous development of a shadow banking system. And continued dalliance with the exotic financial derivatives which precipitated the worldwide crash of 2008-9. When combined with the fact that there has been very little fundamental reform so far, there must be a serious risk of another financial cataclysm in the foreseeable future. Continue reading
From this year Italians have a 45 billion-euro–a-year bill to pay under the EU Fiscal Compact, a budgetary straightjacket binding Rome to 20 years of economically and socially lethal spending cuts and tax rises. It’s time to end this vicious cycle of impoverishment, designed for the sole benefit of private banks, and cancel the debt, says Loretta Napoleoni.
In 2014 the fiscal compact will become operational. For those who want to refresh your memory here is the definition that Wikipedia gives : Continue reading