Wednesday 4 February 2015

Start of the Week

Monday 2 February


A century ago good socialists rallied at the one percent of landowners and aristocrats who owned Britain. Today they'd have to rail in German, Chinese, Arabic, and a lot of other languages because Britain is slipping steadily into foreign ownership. Indeed they're beginning to rail back as the boss of Boots speaking probably from Monte Carlo did against Labour

Our railway companies have been renationalised to German, Dutch, and French nationalised railways. Our car plants are nearly all foreign owned. Ditto our steel plants and our airports. Heathrow is Spanish owned. Cadbury is American owned-which is why they've changed the contents of their eggs and Rowntrees by the Swiss which is probably why Kit Kats aren't made here any more

Many of those business chiefs denouncing the Labour Party run foreign owned companies. Boots was built as a British company founded as the poem goes on the "shrewd cash chemistry of Good Sir Jesse Boot", it was taken over by Alliance which loaded it with debt, transferred it to Switzerland to dodge tax, and allows the foreign chief executive to live in Monaco ,which is some little way from Nottingham. From there he now attacks Labour as threatening to business and, presumably, dodging taxes.

The big multi-national corporations which make big profits here have headquarters in Luxembourg or Dublin so that can make the profits here and pay their tax there. Even what remains of that great British company ICI is now foreign owned.

This happens because every year now we run an overseas deficit. It was 6% of GDP last year  meaning that we not only import far more manufactured goods than we export but our investments overseas which used to be enormous earn more than foreign investments in Britain, all of which export their profits which reduces  demand and investment in this country

We pay for this gap and balance the budget by getting the foreigners we owe to to buy up companies, houses, land, and football clubs. Government then boasts that investment is flooding in because foreigners have faith in Britain. Not true. They're buying ups bankrupt stock, which is the nation's way of going to the pawnbroker.What happens when we've nothing left to sell?

Tuesday 3 February


A quarter of a century ago I took a young fund manager who'd been fired for blowing the whistle on the way his banks exchange traders stole price points when they did deals for his clients to see Eddie George the then deputy governor of the Bank of England.

Eddie lied to us. He said this point skimming wasn't happening when it was. He said the Bank had conducted an enquiry when I later found he'd merely asked the bank to investigate itself. Which it had and announced that it smelled of roses.

Then I found that the FBI had  operated a sting called Wooden Nickel which led to 47 indictments for point skimming while the Virginia State employees pension fund was suing New York Mellon Bank for billions for fiddling it's foreign exchange transactions.

The answer I pointed out was to time stamp every foreign exchange transaction so that clients knew the rate the dealers were buying or selling at and weren't forced to accept the often fictions rate they were told to fiddle them. They time stamp share deals, exchange transfers between banks, and even Starbucks coffee.

This would stop dealers fiddling themselves a fortune at the expense pensioners whose money they were trading. It would enforce honesty and inform customers. To my amazement the Bank of England told us that time stamping wasn't a priority for them while the Financial Conduct Authority said it wasn't necessary at all. They've just fined the banks billions for rigging the interest rate market but they don't want to prevent further fraud by this simple proposal.

They said they'd consulted the interested parties and they were against it. In other words they trust the people who've just been fined billions more than they trust the pensioners who're being ripped off every day. 

Remember that the foreign currency exchange trade is huge, $5 trillion a day in the US and even more here, so that a few points skimmed off every trade will make dealers very rich very quickly.

The Minister who replied to my debate basically said that pensioners were too stupid to know and wouldn't know enough about prices to find out. That's  how the financial interests gang up with each other to rob we lesser fry! I'll not stop fighting for time stamps. We'll win but how many more millions will have been stolen by dealers by then? Message to the Bank of England: not to take this simple measure to prevent theft is to condone crime by making it so easy.

Wednesday 4 February


It's Wednesday so it's National Cake Throwing Day (aka PMQs) in which 100 stooges blossom, the PM is allowed to make prepared statements and Ed Miliband tries in vain to get answers to a serious question of why Trust Funds have been allowed an exemption from stamp duty no one else gets so that they'll continue to do their dirty work here rather than move to Luxembourg.

Much praised by fools and much viewed in America ( where they think their presidents aren't smart enough to cope with it) PMQs is the only Parliamentary routine which gets much of an airing on telly but has been turned into a low level farce by being used as a platform for electioneering rather than a serious check on the executive.

Questions are handed out by the whips on both side to help members make petty party points. They're then briefed  by ministers and shadow ministers and the prime minister is told what's coming from his own side so that he can give his own people a little cheer, read out announcements he wants to make, and  give a little mention of "the government's long term economic plan" or some other happy formulation which has to be regularly re-iterated in case people forget it (easy to do because there isn't one) Nevertheless it got four mentions.  Mention it enough and people will assume that it actually exists

Today's was a good illustration of this carefully calibrated spontaneous event. Six stooge questions from Labour and six Tory stooges plus three more real questions designed to allow the PM to put on his glasses and read prepared announcements spontaneously, four harmless questions from minor parties and one marginally good joke by the PM "Bill somebody isn't a person, it's Labour's policy."

The only real high point therefore was Miliband's rather good question (repeated five times) on why hedge funds have been exempted from stamp duty. no answer of course  just a lot of insults and endless repetition of the wonderful things the government has done. Script by Lynton Crosby

There's got to be a better way though I can't think of one offhand. Perhaps a health warning in the corner Warning! PMQs  may damage your brain.Watch with discretion.

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