Thursday, 26 July 2012

Gideons moldy old pasty of an economic policy.

How to counter the dogmatic sado masochisitc ex Etonian Kabal currently residing at noś 10 and 11 Downing Street.

Just checking in to re affirm my commitment to this Idea David. I see it as a powerful method of getting some informed un sponsored critique of the present hedgemony into the wider mainstream debate.
Take the GDP news and un reporting of the same on the BBC. Mish Shedlock writes on it today and Steph Flanders is given the job of spinning the up side ( The figures will be revised?)
Just now
It seems Gideons Pasty pasting budget is not working.
An old etonian Toff
was often noted to scoff
Whilst Brosiering His dame
Economical Actualite IS the name of the game
I’ll tax the upper Crust off your pasty
now your all Fagging for me
I always preferred Cheshire PorkY Pies
In Cuisine and in Deed you see.
Take back the money creation power into the Commons.
Mish on GDP.
GDP is a very silly economic measure, by its metrics quantative easing really makes things look great of course expanding Bank reserves does nothing for the real economy unless the Banks choose to excercise their debt money creation powers.
Will keep checking back, Greetings from a sunny Sweden.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Plato's Cave, Tales from the Libetarian Drive in Cinema.

Roger LewisHi Robert,

I generally resort to the cock up theory of life rather than the conspiracy theory of life. Quite often events conspire against the majority presenting a happy opportunity for some which they recognise and take advantage of.

I think it likely that the events of 2005/6 was such a cock up which presented such an opportunity to the banking sector.

Whilst Banking is an extremely powerful lobby and has the most power of any lobby including Big oil and Armaments due to its role as prime generator of the money supply.
The sort of process happening now which is a drift to Fascism , not ( Marxism)., is a natural drift which capitalism inevitably goes towards a focus of power and wealth in one large block Monopoly State Capitalism.

Marx to me was as well as a political theorist probably the greatest Economist to have written What Marx did in Kapital was to de-construct the workings and inevitable objectives of Laissez Faire capitalism and demonstrate the inevitable out comes. David Greiber in Debt the First 5000 years also demonstrates the chronology of the Hegelian dialectical nature of the process by which societies have generally seen concentrations of wealth dispersals of wealth to more egalitarian systems and a synthesis into a period of synthesis. Thesis , antithesis Synthesis.

I have followed David Harveys Course in Reading Kapital, it is free to view on the Internet and it is an interesting course that actually reads the Text and examines its meaning , much quoting and putting words in to the mouth of Marx and interpretations of it credited directly to him without the simple expedient of referring to the text. Adam Smith is similarly abused although that is less excusable as Wealth of Nations is a modest volume almost a pamphlet by the Standards of Marx's Das Kapital.

Describing Obama as a Socialist, Marxist or any other sort of left wing or binary pigeon hole is actually quite distracting to the real problem in America which is that your binary system of Democratic or Republican does not represent a choice for he people the winner from either side is bank rolled by the Corporate Lobby and the role of President has been demoted to Poster Boy Or Girl for the Corporate Monopolies.

For a dispassionate analysis of the Corporate Statist drift towards Corporatocracy I recommend this interview by Sue Supriano of K Boo Radio in Oregan.

Its with Robert Moore and in it Moore describes his book

""Escaping the Matrix: How We the People Can Change the World" -- Moore talks about the first half of his book which focuses on the issues of hierarchy and manipulation of the people with lies...
Richard Moore: Part 2 "Escaping the Matrix: How We the People Can Change the World" -- Moore talks about the second part of his book which focuses on how we can build a more localized, democratic society...

Trilateral commission, Bilderburg Group , Cointelpro and so forth are all symptoms of the same overall propaganda and lobbying mix that promote centralist corporate monopoly power this is not Communism or Marxism but the inevitable crescendo of Capitalisms failures posited by by Marx and described described by Adam Smith. In Wealth of Nations.

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Adam Smith quotes (Scottish philosopher and economist, 1723-1790)
Similar Quotes.
1 second ago

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Launch of Guitarvisation and salesvisation


Viking sound Cooperative in association with are pleased to announce the newest sensation on the Internet.

Based on the successful video social media platform, 123 flash, the site provides real time video interaction between Guitarists Jamming, Teachers and students interacting and touring musicians sharing tips and tricks backstage on the tour bus and from digs. Truly a cooperative structure artists and teachers receive a fair share % of revenue voted democratically  by cooperative members. Air guitar miles which members and fans can collect or purchase are fully convertible to cash via pay pal or on line banking, details on the site.

salesvisation is also being launched by the cooperative as an on line interactive shopping experience with mom and pop music stores and independent craft retailers. Live on line interactive gear demos and sales consultations  available on line and also tech and gear tips. Virtual shopping malls of independent main street now!

We are accepting applications for Teaching and Touring musicians now ready for the main site roll out in September beta testing with introductory bonuses and special prizes are up for grabs for early adopters whilst we iron out the inevitable server glitches.

Applications are also being accepted for retail cooperative members. Call today for more detail, it is the same democratic fair share structure as described above. More details will be published on the beta site shortly. ( Skype is encouraged). Always leave a message if we are busy we will get back to you..


Roger G Lewis. Joint Founder member  Viking Sound Cooperative.

skype: rogerglewis
Grasloksvagen 21, 26697, Hjarnarp, Sweden
Land Line 0431 455416 ( Sweden 0046 )

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

We are Sparticus ( Burn the Chains of debt)

QE is pointless it merely gives an illusion of economic activity and provides an intravenous drip to the zombie Banks at the expense of main street,

Central Bank money is not the same as the money used in the main street economy

this type of money is being destroyed at an alarming rate. Look at Itlay´s money supply or M4 in the Uk and you will see that the black hole represented by the zombie banks is insatiable.

Check out

some excellent tutorials by Werner and Black on money extinguishing on debt repayment.

We are Sparticus.
(Burn your Chains of debt)


We are sparicus we can burn these paper chains of debt

The Fat necks of the users will no longer own our sweat

We will remember for prometheus and use his gift of fire

we´ll burn our paper chains of debt, a massive funeral pyre.

Oh, Burn those paper chains throw them in the fire

own the sweat for your own sweet love

Don´t listen to those liars

Slaves we are to debt we live our lives bedecked in paper chains.

We sell our Childrens futures and propaganda steals our Brains

Chained to a rock of promises consuming our minds and souls

Look and and understand Its a sea of lies and moving goals

We are Sparitcus if we unite and fight

As his fat neck sweats and he holds the yoke so tight

Pay with love and sweat not the useres gains

burn thoose chains and break the reins.

Oh, Burn those paper chains throw them in the fire

own the sweat for your own sweet love

Don´t listen to those liars

We are Sparitcus

We are Sparticus


Monday, 16 July 2012

On Busy Fools and Useful Idiots

The solution to this specific problem and from there so many others is staggeringly simple but its implementation is blocked by the very powerful vested interests this current
problem is a reiteration of the same problem that has echoed down the Ages from the time of Solon's reforms described variously but probably most famously by Plutarch.

David Greiber in his excellent book debt the first 5000 years has the full chronology in my mind it is on a par with A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russel.

The key is to building a community framework of understanding of the money creation process.
Famous quotes not withstanding by Henry Ford, and Meyer Rothschild this simple 30 minute talk gives an admirable start to any framework of understanding.



Heres a blog I did regarding my own framework of understanding as it developed.

I did another on Busy fools, I look back on my business career which was very successful I built a 100 million pound business in 5 years in my 30ś I now see plainly I was a useful idiot just doing the bidding of my Merchant banker financiers.

The neo Wittgenstein's, Showing the Community Fly out of the corporate fascist Bottle.

Hi John,

There is definitely an inertia and apathy problem which is nurtured in the mainstream corporate media. The Types of Activism I engage in seek to address this mass conditioning and feeling of hopelessness a simple google of the term `Cognitive Dissonance`gives a good introduction to the psychology being targeted at the disenfranchised.

It is through engaging in a participative and collegiate education process that empowerment can be brought back at a local community level and the interaction of community groups can encourage and embolden direct action and civil disengagement from the exploitative mechanisms aimed at communities. The best defence agains a divide and conquer strategy is a sort of guerrilla cell structure that has strong social ties and loyalties that unite around common objectives with other community cells this sort of revolutionary strategy creates a polyphonous hydra of dissonant feeling against the highly centralised Global statist machine.

If one looks at the Civic Society Group here on Linked in and the Community action group in the UK which I am also a member of and also look at the Positive money campaign very strong communities are already emerging and we take heart from previous struggles seen in the Civil Rights, Women's Rights and disabled rights struggles and those of the ANC, IRA, PLO and particularly the political wings of those organisations. Non violent means as Ghandi advocated can be even more successful in the internet age and the internet is owned by the Hacker community and open source linux based activists again where I have strong ties with my own activism based around our own cooperative here in Sweden.

Paulo Friere showed the way for engaging in a positive dialectic between shared learning in community based learning in the favellas of Brazil. My friend Roy Madron has written persuasively and intelligently on these issues from his base in Brazil and Giant figures of the intellectual struggle for plural systems of community decision making such as James Robertson , David Harvey and Noam Chomsky all show the new upcoming Generation that I aspire to be a part of the way to engage at an intellectual level in an approachable way for all of our neighbors and in a powerful academically and scholarly way with the Bureaucrats defending the status quo.

The Plutocrats will eventually either respond to a Roosevelt type of new deal proposition which will come from the new Statesmen who are yet to Emerge, but politicians such as Kunich and Farage are out riders for the intellectual and mass indignation which will increasingly be heard as the current system continues to crumble and resort to yet more bankrupt actions against problems it creates and that it does not understand due to blind dogmatic desperation. The community activist movement already has many Wittgenstein's who have already  written  the language that shows the rest of us the way out of this particular bottle.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Swiss Hot bed of Anarchist Democracy and Cynical Bankers.

The Swiss System of Government is an interesting one, it is a highly regionalised model based on Cantons and important decisions are made locally within the cantons.
Switzerland is a rather unusual case in many ways but a case it is for Anarchistic flat organisational structures.
Here is a link to an interesting Anarchist blog called Government by Contract, based on the Swiss Canton model. Stakeholder oversight and consultation are what prevents the tall poppyś from becoming Triffids.

In Scandinavia there is a concept of the jantelagen, this is the subject of a blog I did last year on Tall poppyś.

Solons Reforms and this blog on an ironic reading of Plutarch by a Greek mystified by his own countries travails, also worth a read.

Finally its the Money Power that requires sorting out to restore some sort of valid representative democracy. This is a very good talk on the Positive money site about
Money supply destruction as debt is repaid. The parallels to the 1930's are very scarily analogous, the drums of war are beating ever louder.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Socratic Management, learning by remembering.

In the 1990ś Sir John Harvey Jones ( The retired Chairman of I C I the Chemical Giant) presented a wonderful television series called Trouble shooter, I still have the book. I watched it eagerly as a young man and remember marvelling at the informal yet spellbinding wisdom that Sir John radiated in his trademark managing by walking around.

 fast forward to today and a blog I did last week about Lucian and his Auction of philosophers in the slave Market in Samos and the Pythagorian pitch of what his philosophy offered.'' I will not teach you I will remind you.´

Then we have Socrates and his philosophy and inquiry into the citizens of Athens daily perceptions of reality, government by walking around and remembering by the Famous Socratic method.

The Socratic school of management is born note bene.

My vote for the socratic manager of the 21st century is Ricardo Semler(1). the CEO and majority owner of Semco SA, a Brazilian company best known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering
Another sensai in the remembering of what we come to know again is Paulo Friere(2) who was also Brazilian.

 remember  Freire's strong aversion to the teacher-student dichotomy.

No Tyrants  they.

Another minstrel and poet for the muse of the new Socratic school of Management is Robert Smith, Front man of The Cure. I was invited to their Show headlining Roskilde last night by Roger O'donnel their Keyboard player a friend of mine, Roger reminds me of Timotheus,(3) Harmonides teacher. Who counsels his pupils not to seek the wisdom of crowds as a crutch for their own self esteem, better, to be admired by ones peers, secure in your own motivations of your trueself.

I do hope the reference is not construed as ´Jumpin on someone elses train ´

Moving swiftly on to the point about our Poet our Marsyas(4) and his Guitar, not Flute

Emblazoned on Robers Schekter Guitar.


Pythagoras. You will study music and geometry.
First Dealer. A charming recipe! The way to be wise: learn the guitar.

And a final Word From Max Ehrman whośe Desiderata(4) sent me in search of a cure for my own amnesia.

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."

 In isolated elites remote politicians and financiers in far off lands what can they ever hope to be reminded of. Lets remember not to forget our own worth.






Wednesday, 4 July 2012

True Temperament Curly Frets

true temprement necks. Curly frets. written in 1 october 2010


I went into True Temperament\Paul Guy Guitars shop\Workshop in Stockholm this afteroon and met Anders Thidell the inventor of the True Temperament Fretting System, I was there for over an hour and had the opportunity to try out 3 instruments.
The first instrument I tried was Anders personal Stratocaster fretted to his own customised personal temperament
the second another Strat fitted with the standard true temperament, and the third was a beautiful custom made acoustic made by a Swedish Luthier and friend of Anders' fitted with one of Anders' own Necks again with the standard true temperament.
The two strats I played through a Fender Champ Vibratone there was a beautiful Fender Showman Valve Amp there with a 4 x 10 cabinet but I used the Champ with all of the effects turned off with the Bass on about 4-5 and the treble on about 6 a really clean tone most of the time. I had a little play on the driven channel with a little gain and whacked a few power chords just to see what it was like, it was fun and the chords rang out clearly and sounded extra heavy the temperament tuned to fifths which I didn't try would I think really hit home ( just as it says on the tin).
Firstly the look of the guitars particularly the ones with the True temperament do not strike you as looking particularly
odd their advertising strap line is "Looks Organic Sounds Divine" and that about sums it up. The look of the neck is very pleasing to my own eye and I was suprised to find that the feel of the neck was just the same as any of my other Guitars, along the fingerboard. I have a Byrdland with a short scale and thin Mandolin Neck and that feels a whole lot different and also the one time I ever played an Explorer that felt a whole lot different to my other guitars and I have a range of necks on my guitars at home from a classic 50's style Les Paul neck on my 74 standard to the thinner neck of my 64 330 and the very different chunky neck of my Master Salute Strat that has Jumbo Fretts.
The two Strats I played felt very comfortable I played a couple of big stretched chords a G# at the 8th frett, thats the c shape barre chord on the 5th string, which is the start chord for the bridge to you aint seen nothin yet by BTO ( the version I play anyhow. and also a descending fingerpicked arpeggio on the C#minor#5, Ano5add2,Ano5\B
Which is the start of the outro to Babe I'm gonna leave ya by led zep the way that Jimmi Page plays it I believe.
These Chords are quite demanding of any guitars set up and also have some interesting intervals, I use them in my practice routine almost every day for finger stregnth work so I am quite familiar with how they sound on my other Guitars which is why I used them today. I could hear the difference as compared to my other guitars all of which have been set up by the Bailey Brothers who are Bristols best known( most Highly regarded) guitar techs so they are very well set up, As Anders runs a guitar set up business as well as the Fretting System company all of the guitars I played today were very nicely set up as well but the difference was discernable to my Ear which I have to stress is not the most sensitive you will ever encounter.
I also played regular Major and Minor scales both Full and pentatonic I played through Dominic Millers arrangement of Fields of Gold ( the Sting Version) and also Wild World by Cat Stevens, again old faithfull favourite tunes of mine and the sound again was just clearer, more in tune.
I found that I adjusted my hand angle slightly for barreing full Barre Chords a very small adjustment I found I had to make to keep from snagging the frett on the narrower points, this was not nearly as much of an adjustment I make to play my Byrdland which I got used to in about 5 minutes after I had it, the Explorer which I played for about an Hour back in August I just couldn't get the Hang of.In short there is not much to get used to with these fretts just the crystal clear intonation.

On the acoustic I messed about with a d#Maj7 chord at the 6th fret with the root on the fifth string which is one of my favourite chords along with a Cadd9 in the open position both chords sounded even more beautiful than normal. I also ran the open a7 shape up the whole fret board which the guy with the pork pie hat from Rock on Good people shows in a lesson on you tube which is a good test of intonation on any guitar again the guitar tone was clear and bell like all the way up the neck, in fact nothing short of spectacularly so.

In case you haven't gathered by now I am absolutely convinced that this system works it is a worthwhile expense for a great improvement in the overall intonation of any guitar, I see very little downside. Just cost really, and its not super expensive for such a huge improvement. WHen I order my custom guitars in future I will definitely be specifying this fretting System. I wouldn't convert my Vintage instruments but I wouldn't change the nuts or any of the original specs on those either. If I ever convince Gibson to Make me a 12 string Byrdland I will definitely have the neck modified to this system or ask them to send the blank Neck to Anders before it is fitted to the body.

I had a close look at the Mean tone Blues guitar but didn't play it that does have addtional drawbacks in that there are a couple of extra frets and at these positions the fretts are radically different and the chord shapes you play have to be different due to the additional fretts adding two extra semitones, I don't think it would be any more difficult than learning different chord shapes for alternative open tunings but for the additional clarity on those bluesey keys it might be worth it for some for me the Standard Even Temperament system is an all round improvement the Meantone for me personally would be a bridge to far ( no pun intended, Sorry Matt)

All in all it was an exciting and rewarding trip I'm glad I made the effort and I will be ordering these necks for my future Guitars.
If you get the chance to try one do If I can hear the difference and appreciate it then anyone with an intermediate grasp of the instrument would I think be impressed given the time to explore the range of the properties endowed on instruments fitted with this system. A great experience and Anders is a very cool guy a real gent.
Roger G Lewis  Written in October 2010.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Frameworks of Understanding. ( Mine as it developed.)

I have found since starting to become actively interested in these matters 3 years ago my own view had changed considerably and the signposts to a critical analysis of the current system seem more in evidence now. Whether this is because my own framework of understanding is more developed or because I am now just finding what I am looking for because I have a predisposed bias to finding what I want to find I don’t know I was involved in an online discussion about House prices on the Motley fool web site back in Feb 2009, My thinking has changed hugely and its an interesting read both the Cliff Dárcy article and the discussion that follows.
I am optimistic that peoples openness to hearing alternative views is increasing, I think people sense something is badly up and although the current culture is for quick solutions in a 2 minute sound bite 101 and thats all you need to know Fox News sort of way. But I think we can provide some of that and I thing Satire needs to be directed at the subject and some poking fun in the great tradition of Radical Etchings and Pamphlets. I suspect these days Americans and Brits alike would struggle to get through Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in one sitting but remember that a lot of people would have got through it or introduced to it by group readings and discussions and that sort of thing whilst difficult to re introduce into modern life can be done through social media. I have tried to do it with a few original songs and poems and by writing to people I am in regular contact with and who I care about.
The idea of Community approaches is well put by Robert Moore in this two part interview with Sue Supriano on her Steppin out of Babylon series. This series helped me to seek out a lot of information I did not have the tools to search out before as my framework of understanding in many of the areas simply didn’t exist.
I posted a link in a Linked in discussion on the Economist, a place I try to provide the other view to the main stream economics and free market exponents some of whom are happy to discuss things and some of who are still pretty shouty, part of what we do does involve kissing a lot of frogs to find our princes though.
I have just read this interesting Blog regarding the true nature of democracy and indeed if it has indeed existed anywhere in the past 6000 years.
The Author gives an interesting interview here to Sue Supriano of Steppin out of Babylon
there are two parts to the interview with Richard Moore the first an analysis of the present trend towards global corporate fascism the second an analysis of dispute resolution type approaches to local community problem solving and bottom up policy formulation.
My take on these things In Music and Poetry,
Illuminati and Glitterati
Let Them Eat Cake
Democracy 2011
Baards of Wales Speak Out

 at some point there has to be Praxis in all of this not just platitudes and theory.
Have you seen these debt annihilation videos I have posted here before but in case you or anyoone else has not seen them they are worht a look.
I believe the inflation question is amply covered in these videos ands I believe Steve Keen covers it too.
Do you dispute that when the debt is repaid to banks the money disappears? in which case which part of that process denies the proposition that all debt is money ( 97% of it at any rate, ) until it is repaid at which point it ceases to exist.

Cash money never expires but that is 3% of whats going around the system Gary, peoples deposits are as illusory as any other form of debt money they are book entries all you can really trust is what you can put your hand on and touch, whats under your mattress in your warehouse or growing in your fields or forests. The idea that the money becomes other peoples deposits does not
satisfy the qualification that all money is debt, for the deposit to exist in the other persons bank account it must be represented by a debt in some else’s account hence 97% of all money is Debt by definition.
Money created in a steady state economy can be produced that is neither inflationary or created with the requirement of some one else’s indebtedness.
I am of the school that usury is wrong and I object to money founded on usury and the practice of usury this is not a religious stance but a philosophical one and also an ecological one.
As to Zero Maturity of money that doesn’t expire Coleridge expresses it better than I could in Table Talk.
this from 27th April 1823.
The national debt has, in fact, made more men rich than have a right to be so, or, rather, any ultimate power, in case of a struggle, of actualizing their riches. It is, in effect, like an ordinary, where three hundred tickets have been distributed, but where there is, in truth, room only for one hundred. So long as you can amuse the company with any thing else, or make them come in successively, all is well, and the whole three hundred fancy themselves sure of a dinner; but if any suspicion of a hoax should arise, and they were all to rush into the room at once, there would be two hundred without a potato for their money; and the table would be occupied by the landholders, who live on the spot.

There are two kinds of Money Broadly Speaking. Cash Money ( the stuff printed for the Government)
and Debt Based Money The stuff digitally created by The Banks.
We can get into the panoply of financial instruments and derivatives bonds and so forth later but Broadly speaking there are two types of money neither of which is backed by anything.
What this money represents is trust in each other to provide a service or a thing.In effect the credit of society, this is a Common asset part of the commons, that which is made for the benefit of society and to which we all owe a duty of usufruct to foster and respect and preserve for each other.
True it is that the usufruct has been abused by Government and private banks in turn and together they are effectively two conspirators in the same misappropriation of the system.
Were The system husbanded for and on behalf of Civic society then it matters not if it is backed by old wooly socks, thin air or the yellow MMś in every fifth packet stamped with a smiley face. What is important is that enough oil is put in the engine to allow necessary exchanges to take place and commerce to function.
That 97% of this power is now in Private banking hands is I think we agree dangerous and wrong, placing it in the hands of a centalised and corrupt-able government is equally wrong but If, as Positive money and the institute for public Banking advocate, it is in stake holder accountable public trusts with democratic oversight then in the computer age we can have a system that does not function as a debt slave manufacturing machine that benefits only the wicked Wizard behind the controls.
The Secrets of Oz is a wonderful film, the Red shoes were Silver in the book and the Yellow Brick road is a metaphor for the Gold Standard, all explained in that wonderful documentary film by Bill Still.
Do take a look also at the videos I posted above I think they are well presented and state a sensible view of one solution. I read the link that you posted and I did not find that the Authors reasoning stood up to muster.

 Money or reserves and the debt money that is created by the multiplier.
the money that is multiplied by treating the same basic money over and over as new money is only in existence as long as the debt exists that is the essence of double entry book keeping, which is a complete nonsense.
The Fed itself and the Bank of England are no less vested in perpetuating the myth Gary.
The idea that Banks reserves at Central banks and deposits held from customers have anything to do with the debt money that banks creates is pretty comprehensively discredited now various papers linked to here and elsewhere show that to my own satisfaction but of course you would have to do the hard yards yourself to satisfy yourself. David has done a lot of the slog already but until one gets down to running some numbers oneself and challenging the faulty logic which you are re iterating on the back of your own fag packet or in a fancy spread sheet no doubt , one is always susceptible to the dismissive wave of the hand and charge that oh this stuff is to complicated for you non bankers and Non economists.

this post at Golem XIV blog reproduces Ian Hills excellent piece in the Glasgow herald it covers most of the bases very well.

John Souter June 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm #
I have copied the article below from the Glasgow Herald – its author, Ian Bell is one of the few columnists who challenge cause and effect other than the tinkering of lexiconic vanities adopted by most of his colleagues as a substitute for wisdom.
While the article is aimed at the Barclay’s Libor scandal, the morality of his critique could apply just as well to the 2007 meltdown and on through to the EU and Euro crises.
In essence nothing has changed since 2007 – a fatally flawed system is using coercion to paper over its flaws and using blackmail to pressurise nations into accepting debts in order to perpetuate and continue for it to profit from the fraudulent practices it initiated.
In essence the only progress that has been achieved since 2007 is the bill for the system continuance has increased beyond the nightmares of sanity.
Interest-rate fixing: A knife in the heart of capitalism
Ian Bell
If you fancy a free market economy, or a society based on such an economy, best take care that your markets are not rigged.
If politics is the game, it helps if you can name a market that is – or ever has been – truly open, honest and free. Anything else is a fraud.
Britain has been drifting away from the old, comfortable compromise of a mixed economy for the best part of 40 years. It has been the casualty – or the beneficiary, if that’s your taste – of a global ideological war. The state, the unfettered market, or some halfway house between the two? The scorecard says the neo-liberal version of the so-called Washington consensus emerged victorious, time and again.
So here we are. The prospectus offered was personal liberty, wealth creation, rising global prosperity and the rolling back of the oppressive state. In practice, it meant privatisation, labour “flexibility”, minimal regulation, market fundamentalism and the toleration of inequality. Those, said mainstream politicians of every stripe on every continent, would do the trick.
Nobody mentioned a bunch of crooks running riot, time and again. Nobody said they would abuse power and wealth at every turn in what amounted to a vast conspiracy to defraud. Nobody said that rigging the game for the sake of personal enrichment would become the point and purpose of the system. They preferred the old lecture explaining that vile Marxism “failed to understand human nature”.
So who still believes that the cost of petrol, food or credit, for nations or individuals, rises or falls because of the pure, dispassionate action of market forces? Speculative attacks, such as “aggressive tax avoidance”, are hardly in the spirit of the thing; the fiddling of interest rates is another malignity entirely. It strikes at the heart of capitalism. When prices cannot be trusted – for such is the effect – there is no free market.
In the case of Barclays, and perhaps 20 other household names trading on the public trust, that was the whole idea. The London interbank offered rate (Libor) and its European equivalent were supposed to act as guarantees that bankers’ claims matched reality, that they described accurately commerce between banks and, by extension, the wider world. For the sake of their bonuses and their bank, traders at Barclays decided to dispense with annoying, unhelpful reality. Time and again, for years, under the alleged instruction of “senior management”, they lied.
You don’t need to understand how Libor is constructed as a global benchmark, with highest and lowest figures discarded and averages compiled, to grasp what was done. Bankers were taken at their word. Instead of regarding this as a solemn responsibility, they took it as an opportunity, offered by suckers. The simple analogy is discovering, after a day at the races, that every nag was doped. Forget the casino economy: these characters were controlling the roulette wheel.
Financial journalists have been struggling to describe the fundamental nature of the fraud. In essence, it destroys their world. When Lehman Brothers went down in 2008 a few speculated, nervously, that capitalism itself was in deep trouble. Then the euphemisms began to flow: an excess of risk, recklessness, “complexity”, systemic failure, unpredicted consequences. Some could make it sound like just one of those things. Evidence that individuals were personally, knowingly culpable was soon overlooked.
The Barclays affair nails every myth, every protective lie. At Westminster, Labour and Tories alike have regarded it as their duty to remove or avert financial sector regulation. They have taken the bankers at their word in claiming that the City is too big and too important to be governed by meaningful rules. Even when forced to rescue banks, these politicians have refused to recognise the logic of their actions. No rivals to the institutions, least of all in the shape of a state bank, could be tolerated. The bankers were very clear about that.
The list of misdemeanours – crime is such an ugly word – has been growing since banks started to go bust and demand, with menaces, public money. State support to Britain’s financial sector, in cash real, printed or borrowed, now tops £1 trillion and the heart is being ripped from the welfare state to foot the bill. Earnings and employment for the commonality disappear while rewards for the oligarchy increase. Yet still they forge on, mendacious or incompetent by turn, serene in their self-regard, secure in their self-awarded wealth.
First they are obliged to own up, though apologies are few, for the PPI scam. Then RBS fails to fulfil its basic function for days on end because, it is alleged, of a failure to invest in computer systems. Then Barclays is exposed for systematic tax avoidance worth half a billion pounds. Then the banks, the entire tribe which claims an essential role in British enterprise, are revealed by this newspaper to have been mis-selling – the euphemisms never end – protection against fluctuations in interest rates.
The last of these, as we have reported and as the Financial Services Authority now accepts, was no mishap. Interest rate swaps were sold ruthlessly, knowingly, to thousands of small businesses who neither needed nor understood “the product”. The cost has put a lot of hard-working people out of business. Compensation, another billion or two, will follow in time, no doubt, supplied in the end by the customers who are never allowed to wonder about which “market forces” set the rate for a credit card or a home loan.
In the case of Barclays, the forces described by Adam Smith – who knew greed when he saw it – were impersonated by a few flash traders calling in favours, and by the bank’s participation, so it is further alleged, in an industry-wide ring. Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, the institution that will shortly resume control of this circus, summons up the full force of his rhetoric and calls such behaviour “shoddy”.
Barclays prefers to say its “standards” – it doesn’t say what those might be – have not been met. Bob Diamond, chief executive and former head of Barclays Capital, chief fixers of Libor, turns down one of his bonuses and counts that as an apology. He sees no reason to resign, cash in shares worth £22 million, or demand a year’s worth of salary and benefits just to leave the bank. Diamond’s total “package” of rewards for alleged success last year was £17.5m. The price of failure on his watch? Even after his bank is fined £290m, the CEO considers himself too important to quit.
This is not the tale of a few rogue traders pushing their luck. That excuse has worn paper thin. Plainly, the system is rotten, but so too is the ideology that underpins it, the belief that markets cannot – and must not – be controlled, the idea that every political choice must be subordinated to market imperatives, the blind faith in economic theory, if it deserves the name theory, first and last.
But let’s not complicate matters. We have been ripped off royally, whether as simple customers and taxpayers in the northern hemisphere, or as struggling nations in the developing world. The arguments for rational alternatives will go on. Meantime, don’t start believing a word about reform unless and until arrests are made.