BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Paul Mason
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The strange case of Macau, the tax haven that disappeared

If you read the London Summit communique, issued at 1600GMT you will find:

"The era of banking secrecy is over. We note that the OECD has today published a list of countries assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange of tax information."

But by 2130GMT last night it had not been published. And then at 2131 it was.

This list was long fought for by those who want to close down tax havens, because the intention was to include on it some European countries who, while not exactly in the same league as other Bond-film destinations, such as Grand Cayman, have not completely conformed to OECD norms. Thus Belgium and Austria are on it, as of course is Switzerland, albeit on a "grey part" of the list entitled "other countries".

Now Newsnight is, as always, keen to provide full and timely public service to those who need to stash the proceeds of drug dealing, dictatorship and arms-company lobbying. So we wanted to publish the list. Where was it?

My producer phoned the OECD at 1800.

"Watch the website we can't say anymore than that".

I phoned Downing Street at 2050.

"It's not for us to publish, it's for the OECD" said an apologetic press officer.

"But it means the communique is wrong," I protested. "Talk to the OECD," was the answer.

Thanks to some keen reporting from the Guardian we now know what happened.

On Wednesday night there were frosty negotiations between France and China over the inclusion of Macau, which got mixed up with France deciding to moderate its criticism of the People's Republic of China over the issue of Tibet. I quote:

"[Hu and Sarko] finally agreed to meet at Sarkozy's hotel, the Mandarin, a helpfully named venue. But the Chinese refused to turn up until the Elysée issued a joint diplomatic communique in which France moderated its position on Tibet. The meeting finally went ahead just after 10.30pm. The air cleared - the two men discussed whether Macau should be blacklisted or given more time. But it took an intervention from Barack Obama to help seal the deal on tax havens as the French and the Chinese haggled until the last five minutes of the summit. "Let's get this all in some kind of perspective guys," Obama said at one point."

So the deal on Macau was done in the last five minutes of the conference. But was the OECD in the loop for that last five minutes? From the five hours it took to publish the so called black, white and grey list of tax havens, I am guessing not.

Only at 2120 did it release to Reuters the fate of Macau:

"China is on a third "white list" of jurisdictions that have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standards. But the OECD said China's two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao had so far only "committed to implement" the internationally agreed tax standard."

Now take a look at the list itself in this PDF. Can you find the word "Macau"? You can not. What you will see is that China is given the same gold plated reference as the UK, but then there is footnote number two.

Footnote number two simply states: "Excluding the Special Administrative Regions, which have committed to implement the internationally agreed tax standard."

Now even Jacques Derrida would not have needed long to provide a comprehensive deconstruction of this particular text.

Hong Kong and Macau function as major financial centres for the PRC economy as a whole, and for the South East Asian region generally. If you add, as Reuters did, the word "so far only" committed to going legit then surely Macau and Hong Kong should appear somewhere on the grey list (the black list is for reprobates who will not even commit to the international standard: Costa Rica, Phillippines, etc)

How does Austria get named and shamed, while Macau does not even get named? Ask the Dalai Lama.

And what say did the OECD - supposedly an independent arbiter of who's straight and who's crooked - actually have?

Since the "era of banking secrecy is over" I expect we will be soon told.


[UPDATE: I missed this, from the FT, which sheds further light on the last minute deal.

"According to the account, which has since been confirmed by non-US officials, Mr Obama got the two leaders to agree that the G20 would "take note" of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development list of rogue offshore tax havens rather than "endorse" that list. This allowed the Chinese to save face, since they do not belong to the 30-member Paris-based OECD. And it allowed Mr Sarkozy to be able to claim back home that he had chalked up a blow against old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon capitalism."

Taking note of the list rather than endorsing it allowed the Chinese to save face. But tax expert Richard Murphy thinks this will allow the G20 to alter the list in future.]


  • Comment number 1.

    The issue of Macau and Hong Kong for that matter could get quite amusing.

    if you challenge any member of the ruling party of the PRC as to the status of either of these territories they are very specific: `one country, two systems' is the standard response.

    Now if you are a Chinese Communist then Hong Kong has a capitalist system. They have international treaties that endorse that reality.

    So how can these two territories be subject to China in such a matter as banking and finance? The Chinese will just tell the West that these territories possess different financial systems and this is all about money, isn't it?

    Dead cunning, see! We need to respect China a little bit more.

  • Comment number 2.

    As you said in your previous blog: "To get China to stump up to the IMF they may have to agree to keep Hong Kong and Macau off a blacklist of tax havens."

    It just goes to prove the old "Golden Rule":

    He who has the gold, makes the rules.

  • Comment number 3.

    china is, in several ways, a rouge state. Currency manipulation for nationalist agendas also distorts the world economy. There should have been an end to that.

    it was unlikely they would get all the havens in the first swoop.

  • Comment number 4.

    basically what you're saying is nothing has changed and tax havens will still hide billions possibly trillions of dollars that could and should be used to help the poorest and equalise the spread of wealth.

  • Comment number 5.

    Have you thought of asking why the USA is on the "white list" ?. A number of states (Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada to name 3) are open to challenge. Interesting article in this week's Economist

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't know a thing about Delaware's tax policies but let's say it really was a tax haven.

    Well, in that case the USA would be on the white list for the same reason that China is.

  • Comment number 7.

    This just seems to me like a shift in definition and nothing more.

    If you take Mark Thomas' word then you'd class the UK as a tax haven. The non-dom rules allow people such as Bono and Bob Geldof to conveniently avoid paying the already very low Irish tax they would be subject to.

    Our type of tax avoidance provision is okay by us and all our friends.

  • Comment number 8.

    All of this is just a whitewash: instead of the G20 concentrating on the real business in hand, which is 1) to minimise the effects of the 'Crisis' by 2) maximising the value of available finance, to boost industries (not the incompetent and maybe-criminal, going-bust lot) and to the individuals of our countries who have valid need for help (not those who have speculated buying houses beyond their means and caught a cold because prices didn't always go UP).

    Many wise people have questioned why, suddenly, our chosen representatives have suddenly ALL changed and started pushing obscene amounts of financing on those who could have failed, instead of supporting those who have shown ability, competence, even honesty, and individual need ( in developed and underdeveloped countries).

    Getting a good hot dispute going over tax havens certainly diverted attention away from the above. Sure, it must be rich, people who use them, and many corporations for their 'base', but the crisis was not caused by them, any more than by the 'short-sellers', harranged loudly last autumn!

    Time will show the value of this G20 jamboree.

  • Comment number 9.

    This is merely further illustration of the fact the tax havens were an easy target, so can be bullied (Austria) unless of value to someone large (Macau) by G20's big toughies like Sarko and Brown.

    Tax havens and hedge funds were not the problem and won't be the solution. Tax havens will still be available for legal purposes as they always were, so various (Lords Ashcroft and Myners for two) will still use them, quite legally.

    Hedge Funds are mostly the repository of intelligence and professionalism in investing (Yeah, there are baddies too, just like any industry) and will help the world recover, while giving more to charity than any other industry.

  • Comment number 10.

    Where are Macau and Hong Kong on the list?

    Where are Guernsey and Jersey? Or the Isle of Man? Why single out China? And what has any of it got to do with the Dalai Lama (other than possible locations for his main bank accounts)?

  • Comment number 11.


    Now I'm going to have to resort to running my money through the two centres which are so murky they didn't even make it onto the black list - London and New York!

  • Comment number 12.


    Banking set against Tibet - no contest. Those stupid monks don't even have a cash-card.

    What profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?

    This is way beyond weeping.

  • Comment number 13.

    Maybe it wouldn't have taken Derrida long to appreciate the mind trick carried out by the G20 : Redescribe the value of money by financial engineering, effectively draining it of presense. Then articulate it for your own ends.

    Of course the presence can be reinjected by the usual magic trickery ( Peter Mandleson is an expert in this field ) for the home audience. A knock on the door from HMRC bailiffs is most effective means !

  • Comment number 14.


    don't mention currency manipulation

    nor tibet

    not spying.

  • Comment number 15.

    Instead of saying Macau, in your view, should be on the black/grey list, can you at least define tax haven and why you think Macau should be in it? But not Hong Kong, Sinapore and Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada, Guernsey, Jersey as mentioned?

    If this G20 summit was held in Lhasa. We would still see violent protestors got beaten up and arrested. What we would not see is the word "peaceful" appear in any report.

  • Comment number 16.

    Check out what the OECD is. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is 'an international organisation of 30 countries that accept the principles of representative democracy and free-market economy.' (Wikipedia) It began with North American and West European countries plus Turkey. Japan joined in 1964 and some ex-Communist countries in the 1990s. It does not include Brazil, India, Indonesia or South Africa, nor are they thought likely to join.

    China is within its right to say that the judgements of a partisan body will not be accepted automatically.

  • Comment number 17.

    The reason Jersey and Guernsey are on the white list as opposed t the grey or black lists is because they share tax details with at least the OECD minimum of 12 out of 20 countries (admittedly the 12th one will not be signed up until May in the case of Jersey).

    Deleware however appears not to even share tax information with the IRS in the USA - something they are proud of on websites advertising their corporate services.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great reporting, Paul, this is the sort of deep digging which is requuired to get below the surface of the superficial razzmatazz.

  • Comment number 19.


    Not sure what is strange about it, more like
    'the entirely predictable case of....

    I don't hugely object to this sort of power brokering actually, as long as they actively engage with each other and get some kind of consensus that allows them to move on , that is the most important thing.

    China will be hugely pleased at their new found status in the world and the influence they now know they can exercise in the changed economic climate, much of which they wll see as the fruits and sacrifice of their own labour and shrewdness. This is something they have desired for a long time as a nation, having being deeply shamed and shackled for a long time.

    The rest of the world should adopt a position of positive engagement such that the Chinese energy and enthusiasm for their new found sucess has the best chance of being channeled in the most positive direction possible.

    I wonder how long it will take for Mandarin classes to become popular in the west?

    He who has the gold makes the rules...I would add to that everybody wants to talk to them as well.....


  • Comment number 20.

    Hey diddle diddle the cats did a fiddle the Mcow jumped over the moon

  • Comment number 21.

    #6 "Well, in that case the USA would be on the white list for the same reason that China is."

    Oh ?? I didn't know that the good ol' US of A also have a "one country, many systems" law in its books !! When did that happen ??

    The sheer hypocrisy of the American elite is mind boggling !! They even have the temerity of running around the world accusing others of Human Rights violations while they were operating Guantanamo Bay Hilton and the torture cells !!

  • Comment number 22.

    Off topic this but I was wondering when food prices were going to hit the manews.

    It puts the razmataz of G20 into stark perspective when we consider 18% rise in food prices, more than that for staple foods.

    Imported inflation

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry, ignore the last post...accidental click on the post button.

    As I was in the process of saying...

    Paul has mentioned this before but it is now a main news item, about time I may add.

    Imported food inflation, driven primarily by the de-valuation of sterling. We import 40% of our food....I don't even have to say any more for the readers here, you will fill in the blanks, the result is simple and ineviatable...malnutrition in the UK for those on subsistance incomes...

    The newly unemployed of inner cities will find it particularly difficult to adapt to a massive drop in income, they don't even have a garden in which they could plant their own veggies. Hungry powerless people are angry people with nothing to lose....

    While Gordon is puffing up his chest and enjoying the glow of G20, planning yet another resurrection of his fortunes the creeping reality is catching up.

    It is a shame he has been given this opportunity to continue his delusion through the mechanism of the G20 summit while our situation slowly deteriorates. It is slow so it just stays under the radar of public perception...not good.

    Hard pragmatic decisions need to be made now, outside of fiddling with financial institutions and borrowing money from elsewhere to feed ourselves (which is what we have been doing for years in effect). Spin and playing with unreal fantasy numbers and shuffling paper is all they seem capable of understanding now.

    Reality will catch up.


  • Comment number 24.

    The discussion about the inclusion of Macau is totally irrelevant. The OECD list is a face saving list for people like Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel, who are simply jealous about secrecy rules abroad. They all belong to a group of countries who violate the privacy of their citizens on a massive scale by spying on them. If it was really about tax havens, Britain could take action in certain areas themselves. It is however about getting even with individual taxpayers, or should we say "savers". The words of the OECD would have real meaning if not Belgium and Austria but Ireland and the Netherlands were mentioned where corporations flee to and where a tax rate is applicable that is far lower than usual. That however would upset the people who are really guilty on the Credit Crisis.

  • Comment number 25.

    I am sick and tired of this government treating the general public like idiots and ..aparently getting away with it.

    Alistair darling today comes accross all humble.. he and his economists made a mistake...erm it is worse than recovery this year....sorry.

    The overwhelming consensus of opinion here , on this blog knew that last year, It was plain as the nose on your face economically, how come they did not?


    a) They are totally incompetant and should be sacked


    b) They did know but the truth was politically unacceptable so they manipulated it to save their scrawny necks and expense accounts...and should be sacked.

    I am starting to hope that this recession is really really really bad, it will be the only way the people will tear themselves away from their Sky TV and broadband internet and flush this lot out, down the U bend..where they undoubtably belong.

    here is the roll of honour:

    cash for questions

    Cash for honours

    Lords for hire for law changes

    legality of the Iraq war

    the 45 minute claim

    Dr David Kelly

    Alaister darlings predictions about the economy.

    Lord myners honesty in handling RBS pensions

    jaqui smiths expenses (twice)

    Mcnulties expenses

    Expenses in general for MPS

    Imprisonment without did they get that vote through again?

    Complicity in CIA torture flights

    Selling the UKs gold at rock bottom prices

    selling our infrastructure to offshore tax havens via the PFI

    The appointment of the ex boss of HBOS as deputy head of the FSA!!!

    The above just scratches the surface the well is so deep, the media must be complicit in this failure is it possible that the nation is not reminded of the above serious in-descretions is by the media on a daily basis?

    I am not making this stuff up..this is all reported, then forgotten afew days later, headlines taken over by celebrity who has won big brother or gone out to a party and forgot their knickers, which footballer has been accused of rape etc etc etc etc

    Be it subconciously or consciously you must all be in this together ...nothing else makes any sense.

    Snap out of it.

    Do your job.


  • Comment number 26.


    In a culture that has no integrity, wealth and power are equivalent - just as energy and matter are, in atomic physics; wealth confers power - power confers wealth. Politics is - first and foremost - the art of power; gaining it, holding on to it, wielding it and denying it to others.

    It follows that politicians, in the limiting case, seek power, money or both, and will sacrifice integrity to those ends.

    Politicians must, therefore, strive to return wealth (real or imaginary) to this beleaguered globe in the shortest time possible. The Great God Obama will look on and see that it is good.

  • Comment number 27.


    Powerful analogy you use there. A great deal of truth in that.

    How do you get integrity back into a culture that has lost it? I dont want religion back in its traditional form but it brought with it a value code which helped maintain a baseline of integrity in society, we dont have that either now.

    There are some politicians with integrity, they seem to live out a career on the back benches and come out to throw rocks on occasional big issues...hence ensuring they live their political lives on the back benches.

    Which only goes to substantiate your analogy.

    What to do ?


  • Comment number 28.


    The above was a killer one-liner of Dave Allen's - about faith-healers. (:o)
    Of your 'politicians with integrity' I would only say that, having signed over their autonomy to the 'the party' (and Westminster games) THEY DON'T DO DENUNCIATION no matter how disgraceful the charade becomes; they connive.

    This from the Parliament website - my emphasis. Note all the caveats and escape clauses:

    Your MP will generally do everything he or she can to help constituents, but will not feel able to support every cause, nor will he or she be able to get the desired solution to every individual problem. Members may not be able to support one constituent if in doing so they will deprive another. At times a constituent’s demands may conflict with party policy and your MP will have to decide where their FIRST LOYALTY should lie. The Member may think that, in any case, a majority of constituents would support party policy – after all that is likely to be one of the reasons why they elected him or her.

    What to do? Well, bring back Spitting Image for a start!
    I was watching Yentob's Obama 'vehicle' on TV (Yes We Can - about oratory) and it dawned on me that Oratory is a 'metaphor' for the whole problem. Only the immature fall for it and only the immature (but gifted and driven) would stoop to employ it to manipulate others. While the mass of humanity are dim, dumb or dopey (genetically, educationally or indolently) we shall continue with war, politics, prostitution, porn, advertising etc etc.

    As I have said before - I don't think we can start from here, and the problem is probably our predominantly animal nature.

    Only hope: increase wisdom and philosophy (not tallness, rhetoric, oratory, smiling and speeches - whoever writes them.)


    The orator stepped to his spot
    Reconciling the folk to their lot.
    He said: “All men are equal”
    But sadly the sequel
    Is: Oratory proves they are not.

  • Comment number 29.


    I have just watched Yentob's program about oratory - an excuse to do a program with lots of Obama?

    Apparently Socrates had no time for orators while Demosthenes saw them as the bees'-knees. We have advanced not one iota.

    In Obama's inauguration speech, there is no mention of the, pre-invasion, indigenous population, who were deprived of their land in a host of 'un-American' ways. Even when he is 'inclusively' listing all the 'varieties' who are so wonderfully equal under the great American umbrella, the indigene is excluded (along with Buddhists etc). Such things do not happen by chance - too many cunning manipulators wrote that speech for a single phoneme to be injudicious. Can we be bamboozled? YWC!

  • Comment number 30.

    It was the British and Portguese governments that insisted Hong Kong and Macau should be subject to a capitalist system and preserve the original rules of law after 1997 & 1999. That is how the tax havens got preserved ever since, under an autonomous finance system. Now, how is that China's fault? Doesnt the phrase 'Special Administrative Regions' mean anything to you? Is this the only dirt you can dig up after the G20 summit?! How much has the British government contribute to the IMF this time round? Why does Gordon Brown get all the credit, when China is only left with a scandal story on The strange case of Macau?

    How does Austria get named and shamed, while Macau does not even get named? Ask the Dalai Lama.
    Generally I would say 'give some respect to China', but I think in this case, it is more appropriate to say 'have some respect for yourself, Paul'.

    The world is at a critical turning point right now. I cannot think of a summit as important as this one since the Potsdam conference more than half a century ago. I suggest you focus more on the trillion dollar package, how do these figures add up, and to whom and when will they be handed over should a country needed to be rescued in the future.
  • Comment number 31.


    "The world is at a critical turning point right now."

    Mais non mademoiselle! More a matter of 'spiralling down' than 'turning away' (from folly) I suggest. Whether our folly is induced by those among us with a Machiavellian bent, or 'inherent in our bones', remains to be seen.

    In my view, Mother Earth was a very real presence in the distant past; e.g. the continuum of fertility was keenly felt. Over millennia, there has been a subversion of the Female in favour of Male ideals, goals and beliefs (of which male theism is a symptom) and only men would conceive of trading debt for profit!

    We are not just living within one lie, we struggle in the innermost Chinese Box of a set of lies - unaware. I don't think any durable rescue - state or individual - will arise from the application of money.

  • Comment number 32.

    I suppose iin this day and age there will still have to be some 'unknown' havens to send the cash to once the other havens have been 'cleaned up'.

    It is a joke for we know the cash can be transferred anywhere in the world at the touch of a button. So called regulators will be forever trying to play catch up.

    It becomes more obvious that cleaning up tax havens is a fantasy and so is globalisation. Very worrying !

    The real wealth that should be helping the world out of crisis is still sitting safe and snug somewhere out in cyberspace.

    Governments rule? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Paul,
    good to see you back in the world of the living, just how bad was Bratislava airport?, you were there for nearly seven full days (which beats my record of five full days at manchester en route to a seven day getaway, we gave up in the end).
    Been away for a full week myself, up north, no internet (not that they don't have it, just felt compelled to leave it alone)

    So, the G20 came and went, no big surprises, communique as released, business as usual.

    Tax Havens, did we honestly think that anything would be done to curb these iniquitous anomolies, don't forget that these places house not just the laundered monies of drug barons, arms traders, former dictators, oligarchs et al but also the pensions of our former esteemed bankers.
    (the chances of any real action are ...oh slim to none)

    Fiscal Stimulus, now that most of the western economies are stimulied out there won't be too much of that going on.

    Quantitive Easing, oh yes, sounds sexy even to jaded central bankers, just print some more wonga to spend down the girly club (cool)
    (who's going to pay? SHADUP!, not us)

    Protectionism - ooh dirty word, ok how do we phrase giving pots of cash to 'local' outlets of global businesses to ensure jobs are kept 'local'
    'Subsidy', can't call it that,
    'Training grants' ..that's better.
    'Re-Training Grants' ...sounds even better (these guys are good, now we are making them even better)
    'Re-Tooling Grants' ...make them better prepared to compete in the global marketplace (against those subsidised Germans/French/Spanish/Chinese/Japanese/Americans........)
    Why not call it as it is, British Jobs for British Workers

    Finally, as it has been a long week cooped up in a caravan with my kids. (more tension than a G20)

    The G7,G8,G20, World Bank, IMF, UN. Just who do these people think they are, I didn't vote for them, they never asked me who should or shouldn't be bailed out. I'm sorry but until they (that would be the big THEY) submit to some kind of democratic subservience, they do not represent me, they have not asked me or anybody that I know.

    So just where do they get off telling me, and everybody that I know, what to do ?

  • Comment number 34.

    Off Topic

    Paul, I listened to John Humphrys interview the Home Secretary this morning and remain horrified at the attempts by her and others to somehow justify fleecing/screwing/shafting/stuffing/robbing (call it what you like) the taxpayer in the way that these people do.

    Can we keep up the pressure on these politicians please? I own and run a small business and cannot afford to settle my tax liability for FY07-08. I shall have to dip in to my personal savings to inject cash in to my small business so that my company's tax can be used, er, to fund the luxurious lifestyles of the likes of Jacqui Smith and others. How does this work?

    Finally, my family's summer holiday this year will be a week in a tent in Scotland. I'm finding it really difficult to stay calm as I hear and read more and more about the huge gulf between the lives led by our political elite (ha!) and the likes of ordinary, very hard-working, decent people who try to live their lives not only by the rules, but also with a basic sense of right and wrong.

    It's wrong that politicians take our money and live the high-life at our expense. Where do they get the brass-neck to justify it, and how can Gordon Brown say he's too busy to deal with it? What the hell's happening here?

  • Comment number 35.

    So just what is a tax haven, when it is black-listed?

    All the usual suspects - jurisdictions which benefit from low taxes and lesser regulation - appear to be untouched by the opprobrium of the G20.

    No, this is about banking secrecy and the extension of powers of Governments to investigate the financial affairs of their citizens beyond their borders.

    It extends the scope of the EU Savings Directive (2003) by putting more pressure on those member states (Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg) that held back on the full disclosure promoted under EUSD (and Switzerland as a special case).

    This is another step on a road that has been mapped out for several years.

    It might be seen as a Good Thing that war criminals, drug dealers, corrupt statesmen and money launderers cannot hide their gains from the international community; but is there not something to fear from a world system that grants itself full powers of investigation, particularly at a time when the first steps are being taken towards a world currency?

  • Comment number 36.

    As It turns out the tax havens were really tox havens paying top dollar for everything that came out of AAA's holes ,that is until their sinurgeistic tendencies wore off and they discovered 2 plus two does not equal five.

    Now the taxipayerrs will have to do what the havens can no longer do

    Labour will have to work overtime to get the mass fodder product of the entitlement to vote for them.

  • Comment number 37.


    I suppose some people may find it offensive but that is the only thing that cuts its way through the spoonfed dross nowadays it seems to grab people attension.

    Your u-tude video (and the other one on similar lines wrt the house prise crash) I thought were excellent, just what the doctor ordered, for me anyway

    I hope it gets 60 million hits.

    The joke about Harriet Harmen at the end of the house crash video was absolutely priceless, nearly wet myself...

    Well done ( I am assuming it is you from the tone of your previous posts).

    I hope Paul Mason checks it out as well.


  • Comment number 38.

    With all the overblown hyperbole that I continuously hear about "we've go to do this and that, it's the end of the world etc etc." you'd think some of you would actually go and DO SOMETHING.

    If you care so much get up off your lazy arses, stop commenting on blogs and go and change it. It's not going to change itself and voting tory or lib dem will make sod all difference.

    The reason the world is run by these people is because we allow it to. You get the government you deserve, after all, Labour won 3 elections whether you think they're useless or not.

    Here's a hint - the world isn't going to end because of a recession and you've only got a miserable life to look forward to if you take a crap attitude to it. If you care go outside and make a difference and stop whinging.

    PS I understand the irony of complaing about whinging bloggers in a rant on a whinging so you can refrain from pointing it out.

    If anybody bothered to read all ofthat congratualtions.

  • Comment number 39.


    Some of us are trying and we set up a seperate forum outside of here, set of an e-mail circular trying to pursuade people to protest by moving bank accounts to an ethically run bank.

    Have you moved your bank account yet? Or are you still in part subsidising various pensions or certain individuals and numerous other un-ethical practises?

    The apathy you refer to is systemic now, look at the G20 protests the protestor breaking the window of RBS was outnumbered by about 25 journalists standing on the side fighting each other to get the best photo of it!!

    That is a powerful metaphor for modern society and is very difficult to break down. We have created a nation of watchers..not doers..other people do the 'doing part' making stuff...etc.

    The idea of an e-mail circular is to get peoples attension and pursuade them to initiate a 'moral run on the banks' all from the comfort of thier own home by switching bank accounts i.e. something they are more used to doing...

    I am as exasperated as you are, if you have any other ideas I would like to hear them. The only other thing that may have a chance in todays world is if i had a sex change complete with Huge breasts and walked naked around parliament square until I got interviewed by someone..

    next thing you know I would be a household name in every newspaper and magazine...the peoples transexual political princess.

    It's hopeless.

    The link on post 36 is pretty darn good though to get peoples attension but it needs a message at the end suggesting what they can do about it beyond voting, which. as you say, is just like changing the wall paper.

    off you go then, afew ideas for you as above. i keep trying..and thus far failing..


  • Comment number 40.


    If you wish to make a stand against 'unethical' banks go ahead, I have my mortgage and all my other accounts with my bank, the costs to me to take up your crusade are simply too much.

    Could you name the banks that you feel are 'ethical'?, could you explain what would happen to all the bank employees of the 'unethical' banks if we all followed your lead?.

    Could you explain how your idea could actually work in the real world?, your proposals are un-costed, ignore reality and do nothing to alleviate the suffering of joe public.

  • Comment number 41.

    #40 I would suggest that to find an 'ethical' highstreet bank you need only look at those that have not yet, and have no plans to, cut thousands of jobs in a doomed attempt to shore up their balance sheets.

    Balance sheets that imploded owing to a culture of slavish devotion to ideas that could not possibly work in the real world, ignored reality and did everything to precipitate the suffering of Joe public.

    I would presume that as customers moved from one bank to another, the beneficiery of all this new custom would create jobs and branches in order to meet increased demand. Who knows.

    Certainly switching bank accounts will do little to alleviate suffering, but it may be a small step towards a new culture of accountability that is essential to prevent us sleepwalking into a crisis like this again in the future.

    If the costs are too much then don't do it, you certainly don't have any duty to do so, and the way the executive board of whoever you bank with behaves is absolutely no responsibility of yours.

    But just because you don't feel able to take any action is no reason to do down an idea. One that seems an emminently practical way to register your personal dissatisfaction with a 'service provider' just as you would an ISP or mobile phone company.

  • Comment number 42.


    If you can not do it because of your situation you can not do it..fair enough.

    There are very few ethical banks out there to be sure. Triodos is one, the co-op bank another (for example) there are afew others, failing that the next best thing is probably the mutuals.

    Concerning people at those banks losing their jobs...yes many would if it really took hold ( they are anyway) but the ethical banks would need to recruit like mad so it should balance out in the long run.

    Yes some people would suffer. There seems to be an inherent idea now in society that any change for the good must involve no suffereing to joe public. Reality does not work that way, never has, never will, if you apply that logic we would have just invited Hitler over with open arms would we not?

    I rather suspect before anybody lost their job if there was a 'moral run on the banks' ( and I hope there is) all the chief execs would be removed (sacked) and ethical banking policies instigated ..thus halting the run. You can be pretty sure the government would draft and pass pass some emergency legislation on those lines.

    They don't want to do that now because a lot of their best mates are in the banking industry Crosby, Myners..Labour actively courted the City for years prior to their election..the loyalties run deep no matter what they say.

    If this action I (and others) was taken it would ammount to the public imposing a seperation of investment and retail banking ( a measure imposed after the great depression to stop it happening again and then repealed, the banks lobbied for that because they knew they could get filthy rich gambling with joe publics savings.....

    If the division is reinstated the investment bankers could then gamble as much money as they liked...but not with our savings and mortgages..the retail banks would be boring banks again and the excesses of the investment bankers would largely stay with them and if they failed they could be left to taxpayer bailout would be needed.

    If you can think of a better idea feel free to get the politicians to do what they should be doing anyway PLEASE let me know. I take no pleasure in the potential consequences if people do this (i.e. jobs lost in high street banking) but I can not think of anything else that may have achance of taking off in this couch potato world we have created and I simply do not trust the politicians to do anything >The Conservatives are traditionally close to the banks also so voting for them may not change a great deal.

    By the way non of the parties are telling us the obvious truth of the scale to which joe public will suffer in the coming years, huge government spending cuts and / or tax rises are on the way. The sham of the huge tax receipts from the City has been busted and will not return..that in itself is a £40 billion black hole..government debts are increasing, we import 40% of our food, gas has run out and our oil is running out.

    What exactly are we going to sell the world to pay off our debts? What have we got as collateral to pursuade them to lend us much more ? The IMF says we are the worst placed of the big economies because we are..even more so because an election is coming and no politician dare tell the truth of it for fear of losing.

    Think about it..then think if you really do want to 'do nothing' ?

    As a nation we have a great tradition of pulling together in a crisis and working for each other, that will cause some suffering of Joe public but in return we get our sense of nationhood and community back.

    I hope I have managed to pursuade is people like you more than anyone I need to pursuade.

    Any feedback welcome.


  • Comment number 43.

    Here's one, the origins of which obviously go way back to Big Bang, and the 'democratisation' of equities (and the state) by Thatcher, which I've asked elsewhere in Robert Peston's, and Stephanie Flanders' blogs.

    Anyone else have any constructive comments? I've found this quite unsettling for years.

  • Comment number 44.

    Jaded Jean.

    What you are saying is true, changes in regulation which went largely un-noticed allowed what ammounts to fraud on a massive scale.

    Self cert mortgages being a classic can it be legal to lend someone £200,000 with no evidence of their income?

    It is asking for fraud, begging for it..


    So they can claim the comission and bonuses etc and sell someone a pup ...everybody loses except the bankers who lobbied for this system and set it up so it was moraly wrong but 'legal' in the sense of the word of law at least (not the spirit).

    The homebuyer who now has negative equity and a mortgage he can not afford loses.

    The investors who made the money available to the banks lose

    The taxpayers who now have to bail them out lose.

    The economy in general..people in producing 3rd world countries are probably starving as we speak because of this.

    Yet what do the media do?

    Run aroud like headless chickens reporting on the next iteration of QE or the latest unemployment graph. Nobody touches on the deeper issue.


    I am starting to think that a gagging order has been issued to prevent them reporting it and thus avoid civil unrest..we just get spoon fed what the government wants us to see under the guise of elf n safety.

    They have issued gagging orders before for smaller things..once a government gets a taste for these things...

    Everybody who can DO SOMETHING..change to an ethical bank.. vote for an alternative Political party (liob dems maybe) ..give them the fright of their lives at the euro elections .

    Then and only then may we start to see the biginning of the end of this cesspool of greed and contempt.


  • Comment number 45.

    Jericoa (#44) Narcissistic, i.e. arrested self-development is, alas, a powerfully intoxicating, and yet blinding short-term driver for all too many people these days - hence, perhaps, the fuss about Jahiliyah and jihad? Zinoviev leader of the COMINTERN allegedly translated 'Class War' as 'Holy War' in a speech John Reed delivered in Baku in 1920.

  • Comment number 46.


    That resonates, the idea of a 'false consciousness' probably a more realistic explanation of the lack of penetrating insight from the media and explains the kind of 'dream like' zoned out state many now live their lives in as facilitated by IT.

    An image keeps returning to me when I think of the general situation. The image is of the sole protestor breaking the window at RBS surrounded by about 25 excited journalists jostling with each other to get the best photo of it, no other 'protestor' was in sight.

    A powerful metaphor for the society we have created in this country and ties in well with the 'false consciousness' idea. Information technology amplifies the 'false consciousness' of old (jahiliyah as you term it) to a state where you can almost live your whole life within it.

    Question to a teenager - 'where does milk come from'

    Ans 'the supermarket'

    I dont rule out a gagging order either to explain the medias lack of penetrating insight, things as they are!

    What does all this mean?

    Where is all this heading?

    I think I have a good idea on the above, what I dont know is what the process of change will be or when.


  • Comment number 47.

    Why worry about all this when you can just fill out your expense report and charge it to the tax payers :)


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