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 Tories have used the twin-prong approach: personal vilification which has proved counter-productive and now blatant giveaways (of other people’s money) to try to produce a false feel-good factor. However, no serious policy proposals for the country’s increasingly dire social and economic problems, especially the triple deficit problem of a budget deficit of nearly £100bn, a balance of payments deficit of over £100bn, and a productivity deficit that means living standards can’t rise. 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
Hardly a day goes by without the big banks being penalised, for the umpteenth time, with a record fine. Yesterday Lloyds was fined £28m for ‘seriously flawed’ sales practices, while RBS was forced to pay the US authorities £62m for breaching US sanctions by dealing with clients in Iran, Sudan, Myanmar, and Cuba.
In the case of Lloyds, more than 1 million products were sold to nearly 700,000 customers, but quite apart from whether these products were genuinely needed, what irked the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was the structure of targets and bonus arrangements. That was found to involve sales people being demoted, with a cut in salary of up to 50%, if they failed to hit targets, whilst at the other end of the spectrum ‘champagne bonuses’ were on offer of up to 35% of salary for achieving certain targets, with a one-off ‘grand in the hand’ £1,000 payouts to star performers. Continue reading