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Eurozone stress tests that stress investors

Robert Peston | 17:44 UK time, Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The European Union's attempt to reassure investors that European banks are in reasonable health - by undertaking so-called stress tests on them - is shaping into a bungled exercise that may sow alarm rather than calm.

The names of the 100-odd banks being tested were supposed to be published today, along with details of the endurance tests to which they would be subjected.

The idea is that banks would have to demonstrate that they could remain solvent, even if eurozone economies continue to weaken and in spite of difficulties that some eurozone governments may have in paying their debts.

But investors' fears would only be allayed if the test results are published, if they are conducted in an open and transparent way, and if the stresses to which the banks would be subjected are realistic, not optimistic.

The tests are due in just over two weeks. But the German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble confirmed that individual banks may choose not to disclose the results.

And what may trouble investors even more is that the details they were expecting to receive this afternoon on the scope and substance of the tests, well none of that has been published, for reasons that have not been disclosed.

It would not be at all surprising if - in the coming 24 hours - the anxieties of banks' investors and creditors were to increase, with the damaging effect for eurozone banks that it may become harder and more expensive for them to raise finance.

UPDATE 19:34

At the eccentric hour of 7pm in Britain and 8pm on the continent, the Committee of European Banking Supervisors has published some of what was expected on the scope and scale of stress tests for European banks.

It says that 91 banks will be tested over the coming fortnight, representing 65 per cent of the EU banking sector.

What will reassure investors is that they include the Spanish and German savings banks which are deemed to be most fragile.

However bank investors and creditors may feel that the notional stresses to which the banks will be subjected are not described in enough detail - and some may also complain that the theoretical shocks which the banks have to withstand should be more severe.

The 91 banks will have to demonstrate that they would remain both solvent and liquid if the following adverse conditions were to pertain:

1) a 3 percentage point deviation from the expected course of GDP over the coming two years;
2) worse conditions in the government bond market than the pretty ropey conditions of early May.

Also for different countries, there would be different scenarios for the possible paths of GDP, unemployment and inflation.

On a superficial level, these tests don't look ludicrously easy to pass.

That said, the UK's Financial Services Authority thinks the tests are less difficult to pass than what it has forced on British banks. And as if to prove the point, it says it is already 100 per cent confident that Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds have all passed the European tests.

Also, the EU tests sidestep the issue that probably matters most to investors and creditors: what would happen to the banks if a Greece, or a Portugal or a Spain actually defaulted on what they owe?

It's all very well to tell banks that they need to assess the impact on their capital of a fall in the market price of Greek government debt, or Portuguese debt, or Spanish debt. But if a bank doesn't use mark-to-market valuations for all or some of their government bond holdings, then this would be an irrelevant test.

As I noted earlier, I fear that the way the EU is going about these tests will unsettle rather than reassure the banks' creditors and investors.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The EU Bank Stress Tests were always going to be a political manoeuvre to, with hope and hope alone, bolster the Euro currency and try to dissuade the Investors and Creditors that the Euro was anything other than a weak currency built upon political hopes and not the sound basis of centralised control.

    If there is one thing that the European politicians should have learned by now it is that they should have regulated the banks and the Euro better than they did and not try to play politics and kidology with the bankers, their investors and their creditors.

  • Comment number 2.

    Openness transparency and honesty are going to become ever more important if - anything - is going to work in the future.

  • Comment number 3.

    Oh dear, has the EU just noticed the banks' new wardrobe?

  • Comment number 4.

    'Stress test'?? Are banks the investors, OR are the investors the banks? Yes, the paradox is not lost on folk on the ground across ALL EU countries - in, or out of the euro zone, losing their jobs?

    We can't disseminate EU members: those who retain their own currency, and yet are FULL members of the EU paying billions into the EU, AS PAYING member countries?

    This begs the question: Any EU member country, paying full membership fees - why would you continue to accept continuing ineptitude over the Euro as a pathetic currency that most of the population across Europe simply don't want?

    Yet the masters of the EU universe hang on, for some inexplicable and unknown reason, known only to them and the bankers?

  • Comment number 5.

    Robert, you are naïve if you think you are going to glean any more information than already provided in the annual report and accounts.

    Investors will never have access to monthly management accounts of the banks; so market psychology is the best game in town!

  • Comment number 6.

    Get real. Surely to goodness folk should know by now that we the taxpayers are being lined up to be the fall guys.

    Even if the EU banks fail and end up nationalized they will still exist just like the failed UK banks do.

    The same people will still get bonuses and the same people will still be in charge of property ventures. Some people will have cashed in early though.

    Look what happened to McCarthy & Stone. Business as usual.
    The difference being that the taxpayer is paying for it all.
    And paying for the house market to remain buoyant.
    One little wobble there and wooooops..

  • Comment number 7.

    Good grief, they are all fiddling whilst the economy BURNS!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Of course Santander has the Profits it boasts of extracting from Bradford & Bingley and Alliance and Leicester to boost its balance sheet.

    Except it has the Spanish Property trouble to deal with, oh dear !

    Shame on Mr Clokey for his judgement on B&B !!!!!

    Must find some nice inspirational Zombie films, perhaps one where the cause is some exotic flu virus mutation.......


    Hmmmm, Zombies !!

  • Comment number 9.

    Goodness thats unusual, something about banks : D

  • Comment number 10.

    All this talk of stress testing is very testing and stressful.

    Thankfully the Aussies have been able to make light of it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH4qoZJsDPg

  • Comment number 11.

    If you don't get the answer you want when you ask a question change the question seems to be the limit of our leaders vision..It has been clear from the start of the credit crunch that the banks are bust.With trillions of dodgy derivative trades still hidden in off shore accounts in tax havens still to be accounted for the pass the parcel of debt has to come to an end soon. The taxpayers of the world have not got deep enough pockets to keep this particular instance of fantasy economics on the road and the quicker this reality is recognised, before the whole world is tipped into violent recessionary chaos, the better.The banks were bust. They were rescued by taxpayers money and if asked to pay it back now with appropriate fees they would be bust all over again. They use the cost of their bail out as a reason to mark down currencies/sovereign debt of nations whilst using the liquidity of low interest funds to speculate against those currencies and nations that they decide are vulnerable, and if not gambling on their own behalf provide funding for others to speculate with. At what point reality intrudes and and it is recognised that they are the problem and should be economically neutralised from their raids of mass destruction is still anyone's guess, but for sure the sooner the better. The UK's situation is typical of what is happening with extreme cuts in spending not being used to drive tax cuts but instead being used to reduce debt to the benefit of a banking system that has helped to create the crisis in the first place.The false prospectus this represents is the largest fraud of all, as the banks can keep bumping up the debt pile for years,perhaps decades, to come. At present it looks like it will all end in tears.Suffer will the children.

  • Comment number 12.

    Look, if I were going to test the safety of for example, trucks, on the road I certainly wouldn't publish the license plates of the trucks on my list to be tested would I? Not two weeks before the test! In fact, I wouldn't even tell you when I was going to start pulling them over.

    I'd just surprise the truck companies one night. The fines would be handed out where necessary. And the consistently bad companies would have their trucks impounded.

    Do you think police book appointments two weeks in advance and state which chemicals they are looking for along with the ones they aren't at the time of booking?

  • Comment number 13.

    JP Morgan Pours More Cold Water On Stress Test Credibility, Sees Anything Less Than 25% Haircut On Greek Bonds As A Joke
    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/jp-morgan-pours-more-cold-water-stress-test-credibility-sees-anything-less-25-haircut-greek-

  • Comment number 14.

    12. At 8:46pm on 07 Jul 2010, you wrote:
    Do you think police book appointments two weeks in advance and state which chemicals they are looking for along with the ones they aren't at the time of booking?


    Should have made it clear I was thinking of the police not making appointments down at the local drug dealer!

  • Comment number 15.

    I posted in the last blog about the MEPs pleading for a decent civil society to counter the bank lobbyists as detailed over at the Tax Justice Network blog today. The title of the blog says - Save us from these bankers, fast.

    Wonder what the problem was....must have been about the talk about independent think tanks perhaps not being so independent and hinting at how morning radio journalists should know better.

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't know why EU stress tests would stress investors, rather than reassure investors. The procedures look solid to me.
    The EU tests will be conducted by national supervisors under management by the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS). CEBS have been doing this for a long time. The criteria are macroeconomic, and bel;ieve me - should indeed induce stress.
    The EU conducted an aggregated stress test of its 22 biggest cross-border financial institutions (representing 60% of the assets of the 27-country bloc's banking sector) under the scenario of deep recession in 2009 and 2010. The test concluded that the EU banking system as a whole was sound and could withstand a much worse economic downturn than had taken place.
    CEBS have been working on an EU-wide stress testing exercise since the beginning of the year. The idea is to test banks in 'what if' scenarios".
    Euro zone sources said all individual bank results would be published, including capitalization ratios.
    The idea of the stress tests originated at a conference call of G7 finance ministers on June 14th. The idea was to reassure the markets.
    The EU stress tests WILL NOT BE COMPATIBLE with stress tests that the United States conducted for its own financial institutions. The Americans ran extremely soft stress test. First looked at how much money they wanted to give the banks. Then they calibrated the stress tests until they had exactly that amount coming out of the stress test.
    It was not really a stress test. It was an excuse for bailouts.
    Another euro zone source said the European Central Bank had insisted there be sufficient programs for bank capitalization in case the EU test results were poor.

  • Comment number 17.

    To Robert

    Perhaps you are looking at all this from the wrong angle.

    Perhaps the Zone wants to keep the Euro low against the US$. Say between $1.20 and $1.25?

    Why would they want to do that?

    One reason could be that at this level Euro zone businesses are financially competitive with Dollar area businesses. When a currency such as the Dollar are sharply devalued, there is a competitive advantage until inflation kicks in, say 18 months to 3 years, depending on the industry.

    How to keep the Euro in this band. This is the clever part. Focus on the negatives. Spin out dealing with problems - Greece for example, then Spain. Now the banks what it they are not as sound as they look? Raise doubts and uncertainty. Markets hate it. But never overplay your hand, that is the really clever bit.

    I might be wrong, but I don't think so.

    Mike, Barcelona Spain.

  • Comment number 18.

    The stress-test shocks should certainly be more severe.

    In October 2007 (sic) I wrote, in a piece on stress-testing:
    "who is modeling the collapse of a really big bank now ?"

    http://cityunslicker.blogspot.com/2007/10/in-times-of-stress_03.html

    And of course they should have been testing for that, because Lehman went under just a few months later. In Oct 2007 this was an obvious risk scenario.

    Right now, nothing less than testing for a shock equivalent to sovereign default will do.

  • Comment number 19.

    Could you tell me how long it would take the UK Government to pay off the deficit and maybe even create a surplus if there was no spending at all by the Government ie the Government kept all receipts and paid out nothing. This will give me an idea of the scale of the problem.

  • Comment number 20.

    Just think for a second if you will.....

    If we have another banking collapse ala the 1930's, what will ensue will frighten the living daylights out of those in power. The reason I say this is that, politicians have been spending the last 40 odd years doing away with communities and splitting families up.

    During hard times, it will be dog against dog literaly. It will be very different this time around.

  • Comment number 21.

    16 is right....

    It was not really a stress test. It was an excuse for bailouts.

  • Comment number 22.

    'I've passed my stress tests - well actually my pals set up a course of very low hurdles that I could hop over even if I was on the point of bankrupcy.'

    The whole exercise was, and is, an exercise in public relations and nothing more.

    So long as it is possible to have off balance sheet debts and assets the whole exercise is meaningless. It is also meaningless unless all assets and liabilities are consistently valued - and they are not and never will be.

    Bank's balance sheets are works of fiction to a far larger extent than trading companies and no stress test will change that. (Bank's profits/losses are similarly fictional!)

    What actually matters: Banks are OK so long as there is not a physical, or metaphorical, queue of depositors outside the bank, and further even then, that the bank does not have liquid assets with which to repay everyone on demand.

    (Also see the Banks of England's promissory/bank notes they promise to pay X pounds if presented to the bank - that alone should be enough to demonstrate the pointlessness of any test!)

  • Comment number 23.

    Prudeboy @ 10 - nice link - trust the aussies to cut to the chase.

    I just wish they didn't seem quite so smug - we are all part of the global market. At the end of the day China has to sell its manufactured goods somewhere.

  • Comment number 24.

    'It says that 91 banks will be tested over the coming fortnight,'.....

    Test Case One (User Story for the Agile amoung you)

    Ensure the doors open and close at 9am, 5pm respectively.

    Test Case Two

    Ensure Banks can create new money (as debt)

    Test Case Three

    Ensure tellers can take deposits

    Test Case Four

    Ensure shareholders get stuffer by issuesing further rights issues

    Test Case Five

    Ensure the law is on banks side, so we can repo homes and cash in on the inflation cycle (yet to come)


    Yep, tell you what Robert, If they can come up with better test cases than that, then they ARE in trouble ;-)

  • Comment number 25.

    12
    "I'd just surprise the truck companies one night. The fines would be handed out where necessary. And the consistently bad companies would have their trucks impounded."
    Can't afford to do that; there'd be no banks left.

    No news is good news.

  • Comment number 26.

    Morning Robert,
    my how you have a short memory.
    Do you not recall the Treasury Select Committee interviewing the Three Musketeers on 3rd November 2008?

    "4:23pm: Turner says the tripartite authority reached a decision that a bail-out of the British banking system was necessary. "It was obvious in discussions that something radical had to be done to restore confidence," Turner says.

    They did "extreme stress tests" on bank assets. "There was a process of developing stress tests that determined what was required to restore confidence," he says.

    It is put to Turner that the reason full confidence has not been restored is because banks fear there are still some "toxic" loans yet to be discovered. He rejects the suggestion, saying that it takes time to recover after such a big jolt to confidence."

    If I recall correctly, this report to the Committee was before huge amounts of taxpayers money was injected into RBS and LLoyds-Hbos. We, the public have never been told what this money was spent on- with speculation that it was used to advance huge loans to the Middle-East and other teratological purposes and not to shore-up the Bank's balance sheets.

    In the UK, Mr Turner wouldn't give details of the stress tests applied, nor of the results on individual banks citing commercial confidence issues. (My interpretation was that these results may have allowed speculators to further short the banks in trouble).

    So what will be different this time?
    The market men hope that there will be sufficient information for them to apply their own estimates of haircuts (what a horrible term) to the Sovereign debt held by the banks. I doubt it, as the EU are even more opaque in their revelations about banks than the UK.

    Far from calming the markets, I think that these tests and their interpreted results will just add fuel to the ongoing fire sale.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'd like to know the legality of these stress tests.

    As with say UK benefits or tax forms, did these stress tests stipulate that supplying/providing false information is punishable by imprisonment.

    What these stress tests could also result in, is specific and important information of areas of weakness which can be utilised by other EU or non-EU banks in taking over some banks.

    Its a VERY VERY predatory market out there.

    ALSO , of HUGE importance and seriousness is that of weaker banks that may be market targetted with further market inflicted stress, governments have guaranteed these banks, hence if any banks go down, they will drag a whole nation or more down with them.

    This is a very precarious situation, after ALL the $£billions upon £$billions used to prop up the banking system, it is again extremely close to being nudged into a deep precipice.

    This stress test is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS because it is basically lining up all the dominos, one little nervous wobble could still make the whole lot fall and take much of the world with it.

    I wonder if this is what pre-empted Tory/Lib Dems seeking to know the numbers if 40% budget cuts are needed.

    This is definately fly-by-wire stuff and I think you are correct that the way this is being implemented will add even greater nervousness to markets.

    The PLAIN reality of these stress tests is that just as with impending MASSIVE cuts to budgets across Europe, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    I personally am NOT very positive/optimistic about the overall outcome because there are bound to be some that cause major concern in the markets, the truth can hurt quite a lot.

    In reality, this is very very similar to a 3 minute warning, just extended over 2 weeks.

    On top of all this financial stuff theres going to be massive strikes across much of Europe for quite some time, which though mainly public sector related, will enevitably have wider economic consequences.

    On that cheery thought, I'm off to locate the end of a rainbow!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    You would have thought that a stress test would not be just one set of conditions.

    Surely you would look at it along the lines of best to worst case scenarios? Then you would know just how bad it has to get before more banks start toppling over and could prepare for that eventuality (i.e. risk management) i.e. you manage the situation to prevent it from reaching the point where it becomes 'that bad' because you know precisely what 'that bad' looks like.

  • Comment number 29.

    19. At 10:38pm on 07 Jul 2010, Michael wrote:
    Could you tell me how long it would take the UK Government to pay off the deficit and maybe even create a surplus if there was no spending at all by the Government ie the Government kept all receipts and paid out nothing. This will give me an idea of the scale of the problem.
    ==============================================

    The deficit is just the difference between receipts and expenditure. You do not pay it off, it just adds to the national debt if it is a deficit or reduces the national debt if a surplus is generated.

    If the government just stopped spending when the money ran out each year then currently it would not spend for 3 months of the year roughly. Last year it would have been 4 months.

    If you meant paying off the national debt then with income around 450bn currently it would be a little under 2 years.

  • Comment number 30.

    The real risks lie with the small banks not included in the tests.

  • Comment number 31.

    I have worked in the field of Financial Risk Management for 10 years with the largest Investment Banks. I am surprised to read the EU is conducting "stress tests" in the full glare of the media. Investment Banks need to operate in the background away from the media since the media is the greatest source of risk in the world. Banks suffer most when the market sectors are highly correlated. Correlation across market sectors occurs generally when the media are involved, showing for instance a run on a Bank (Northern Rock), wall to wall negative stories that make you fear for your money. This blog for instance has been a key instrument in correlating the markets during the credit crunch.

    Anyway I digress, the fact is that the EU has created a massive negative another business story which will create a negative market sentiment across every business sector. By doing so it will feed the media with even more negative news which will undermine confidence and our ability to manage risk. Stress tests are based on assumptions, many of them wrong since many of them will be politically chosen rather than financially. They are as much use as an ash try on a motorbike as an indicator of these Banks resistance to default.

  • Comment number 32.

    > investors' fears would only be allayed if the test results are published ...
    > But the German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble confirmed that
    > individual banks may choose not to disclose the results.

    So, bankers are even more cretinous than we assumed (if that were possible). Any bank that chooses "not to disclose the results" is automatically judged to have failed them. So they might as well publish them! Gosh, Robert, where did they dredge these blockheads up from?

  • Comment number 33.

    "1) a 3 percentage point deviation from the expected course of GDP over the coming two years;
    2) worse conditions in the government bond market than the pretty ropey conditions of early May."

    Excellent - that just about covers it - all the possible future crises rolled into 2 scenarios.
    Once again the clowns at the top show their ability to produce the most amazing guff - they're not even going back to the usual stress tests of 'The great depression' or 'The lost decade' - they clearly think the last 18 months experience should cover it!

    Not a test for a currency crisis in there then? - That sounds a bit rash considering we're in one (I believe a 20% fall in a currency constitutes a crisis - I think the Euro is near or at those levels)

    Never mind - at least this false hope will keep some fools spending just a little bit longer - propping up the ponzi scheme with their 'new money'. In the meantime the next stage of the robbery can begin.

    Suck them in - then blow them out. If you haven't worked out their tactics by now then I'm afraid you're doomed.

  • Comment number 34.

    31. At 08:44am on 08 Jul 2010, ANornIron wrote:

    "Investment Banks need to operate in the background away from the media since the media is the greatest source of risk in the world."

    Spoken like a true fascist.

    (for the moderators)
    "Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

  • Comment number 35.

    Robert, Eurozone stress tests not stressful enough?

    Nothing so stressful as "no news" is there Robert?

    Let me explain.

    Number 5 makes a very valid point

    Still, not half as stressful as Herr Dieter, managing director of German hedgehog Fund, K1, must have found it last week when he took his OWN LIFE, in what appears to be very doubtful circumstances, when Spanish police turned up to arrest him.

    The relevance?

    His organisation was accused of fleecing Barclays, (yes UK Barclays) and others of over 300 MILLION Euros. It hadn't hit the headlines here, yet a UK bank was involved. Odd it wasn't reported more widely.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-05/k1-fund-manager-frerichs-killed-himself-prosecutors-spanish-police-say.html

    Given the stress or pressures that he must have come under from Banks and investigators, is it any wonder that UK city traders are nervous of Bank 'stress testing'

    Eurozone stress tests will have been contrived with the cooperation of the biggest of the banks, yes that will include - what a surprise - Barclays, amongst a number of others.

    As for the final analysis, Number 26 sums it up:

    "In the UK, Mr Turner wouldn't give details of the stress tests applied, nor of the results on individual banks citing commercial confidence issues. (My interpretation was that these results may have allowed speculators to further short the banks in trouble)"

    Pressure from the Banks maybe to keep quiet?

    Finally, pressure has also been applied to tech-savvy security researchers to keep stum about how to fleece the ATM network of more cash than you request. This after last years attempt to keep the zero pin hack quiet discovered by Camrbidge researchers.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/06/atm_security_talk_pulled/

    Will we ever get meaningful Eurozone Stress tests and results - not if the biggest Banks and investors have anything to do with it!




  • Comment number 36.

    Perhaps after the problems with derivatives which both have a value and don't at the same time, and with 'off-balance sheet' items which drag banks into a parallel universe, this should be called 'Quantum Banking'.

    The problem is that the stress tests will reveal the problem of Schrodinger's Cat. The results will be 'true' from whichever standpoint they are viewed. Passed / Failed / Useless, all 'true'. Reality will not intrude because it is just another factor, rather than the basis of all this.

    ..and perhaps that's the intention. As ANornIron (happy 12th or not depending on your predilections) said, the risk is in the top-down sentiment.

    The currency of politicians is talk. They will pump more and more happy talk into the results - Quantum Easing - until inflation sets in and they have to increase their talking interest rate. Good luck with that.

  • Comment number 37.

    27. At 04:22am on 08 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    This stress test is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS because it is basically lining up all the dominos, one little nervous wobble could still make the whole lot fall and take much of the world with it...
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    So all our history, all the sacrifices. literally the blood sweat and tears of previous generations, of all the western world, the great human story has been for nothing? To come to the point that now as individuals, and nations we cower under towering giant wobbly blancmanges of deception and greed and dare not look up or speak the truth lest they fall and sweep us away...

    Not on your life!

    They are going to fall over anyway, best to be standing up when they do.

  • Comment number 38.

    Typical EU, simply trying to skew things so the likelihood of anything other than a "YES vote" won't happen.

    Transparency? (snigger,) Openness? (chuckle,) Honesty? (laugh,)
    Hollow - surely.

    In EU terms this is just a late attempt to give their politicians some vague ammunition to claim the Euro is solid. (Only, the EU suspect's it will need to disguise just how fragile the Euro really is?)

    Come on, they've got Greece in the Euro! I would not put it past some EU politicians making an attempt to deny it. Of course it would be daft, but it's all pretty desperate, so someone is bound to....

  • Comment number 39.

    Check this out this graphic!

    Why the world's banks are in trouble
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/mar/25/banking-g20


    It's over a year old now...but the picture can only have worsened since then.

  • Comment number 40.

    37. At 09:44am on 08 Jul 2010, 24law wrote:
    27. At 04:22am on 08 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    This stress test is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS because it is basically lining up all the dominos, one little nervous wobble could still make the whole lot fall and take much of the world with it...
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    So all our history, all the sacrifices. literally the blood sweat and tears of previous generations, of all the western world, the great human story has been for nothing? To come to the point that now as individuals, and nations we cower under towering giant wobbly blancmanges of deception and greed and dare not look up or speak the truth lest they fall and sweep us away...

    Not on your life!

    They are going to fall over anyway, best to be standing up when they do.

    ====================================

    Not a pretty thought, but for many, probably sitting down is safer rather than standing up

    Still, there is a choice of scenarios for the end of civilisation as we know it-

    1.banking meltdown and world social/society collapse
    2.planet warming and environmental/human race catastrophy,
    3.unsustainable population bubble burst and human race catastrophy (+2 above).
    4. Aliens find our satelites and listen to our messages then come find us and hoover us up one by one into a special food blender/drinks machine.
    5. McDonalds go bankrupt
    6.Scotland win the world cup

    Choose your weapon!!!!

    At the end of the day, money is of inane value, no physical worth except that of a promisary note of value and trust, break the trust, any/it's value evapourates into nothingness, at least chocolate xmas money has greater physical worth, if all else fails it can be eaten.

    Now theres a thought, make money out of chocolate, instead of out of trusting fools!!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Have your views on banks etc changed since you wrote "The New Capitalism"? As a former banker-turned-entrepreneur I had it on pre-order and I've heard today that it is not coming out, and I'm wondering why?. I liked "Who runs Britain"..
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 42.

    Most things are evidently/reliably as strong as their weakest part therein.

    Whatever strengths are found in EU banks will be invalidated by and will just enevitably continue to be rated for and against their weakest link.

    I think there is an alternative way of stress testing banks -

    and that is to count the grey hairs on executives heads now, then also again in 2 weeks time.

  • Comment number 43.

    " 39. At 11:15am on 08 Jul 2010, DebtJuggler wrote:
    Check this out this graphic!

    Why the world's banks are in trouble
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/mar/25/banking-g20


    It's over a year old now...but the picture can only have worsened since then."
    Like a house of cards, all it will take is for one to go down and the rest will follow. Still shouldn't come as a surprise given that we have a debt based monetary system that is growing exponentially. It had to reach the buffers eventually.

  • Comment number 44.

    40. At 11:46am on 08 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    __________________________________________________________

    Well I would choose number 6 Scotland winning the world cup. If the world never woke up on the morning after, at least we would have all been singing the night before..

    As for 'the stress testing' - coming from the EU with all their conflicting and competing political interests, will that put confidence back? Of course not.

    I believe honesty is the new 'currency'. (sound crazy? maybe, or maybe it is just new) try this stress test:

    1. What is missing from the market/world leaders/business/world? (Apart from many things) Confidence is missing. Why is confidence missing? Because people do not believe what others tell them. There is no real value, and no real trust.

    2. The world has become very opaque, and there is a simple formula here:
    the more opaque > the more to hide,
    the more to hide > the more darkness suspicion, cheating others, stress and lots of other bad things...
    It is not wrapping paper, it is a signpost to 'the road to hell' (Not being 'evangelical', more a horrible place you would not want to be). For example: Why did the G8/20 conference cost a billion dollars in security? a billion? The answer is that one common feature of western people (if not all) is that we all tend to think that others think and feel the same as we do, even if logically we know this is not the case. And so the G8/20 people must have figured that if we knew as much about them as they did and we thought like they did - then we would be storming the bastille right then and there.

    3. There is also the fact that we are in a seriously not good place - and there is a huge list of evidence, everywhere about that from the excellent site http://www.chrismartenson.com/ (often mentioned on contributions here) to the WWF to... thousands of examples... which affects our 'landscape' (or stormy sea as Robert put it)

    4. We are in changing times, and it is going to get worse before it gets better, so a lot of things are going to happen that we cannot do anything about, but we can be an island of calm in the storm

  • Comment number 45.

    37. At 09:44am on 08 Jul 2010, 24law wrote:
    27. At 04:22am on 08 Jul 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    This stress test is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS because it is basically lining up all the dominos, one little nervous wobble could still make the whole lot fall and take much of the world with it...
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    So all our history, all the sacrifices. literally the blood sweat and tears of previous generations, of all the western world, the great human story has been for nothing? To come to the point that now as individuals, and nations we cower under towering giant wobbly blancmanges of deception and greed and dare not look up or speak the truth lest they fall and sweep us away...

    Not on your life!

    They are going to fall over anyway, best to be standing up when they do.

    ---------------------------------------------------------


    For many years now, Humanity as a whole has had the capability, scientifically, and physically to make this World into a Paradise.

    There has been, and indeed, still is, plenty of resources to go around, AND room for what is left of Nature to continue unmolested.

    But People are fundamentally flawed. The Bankers, the Politicians, the Religious Fanatics, the Generalissimo's, the Hedge Fund managers illustrate perfectly the Fundamental flaw in Human nature.

    Utter greed, for Power, for what they consider wealth, for Prestige and so on, will be the undoing of you all.

    It is a mathematical certainty, that Flawed individuals will attempt to exploit scientific processes, military tactical weapons or financial systems at some point in the future, for their own gain, and then all the efforts, hopes and dreams of those who have gone before, will, indeed be for nothing.

    But taking a step back, of greater concern is the continued despoiling of Nature. Just look up how many species are known to have become extinct last year due to human activity.

    These species cannot be replaced. Gone is gone. Maybe something similar, may turn up elsewhere in the Universe at some point, but it will never be quite the same, and there would be a very long wait.

    People in their greed for money, cars , houses, yachts, forget what is really important. They work long hours and yet do not live. Of course this is made more sad when they work their lives away saving for retirement to find a shiester has stolen their Pension !

    With a rise in retirement ages, more People will never actually live their lives. Just having small snatches of life between treadmills.

    But then Govt's that only see People has Units of production, as Robots to be exploited and not cared for, will not care less if their People suffer.

    Perhaps a nice batch of Zombies would do everyone a favour.

    A chance for some Heroics (for some), a chance for those who remain to learn the true things of value in life, and a mercy perhaps to those who might otherwise spend a lifetime of drudgery, disappointment and sadness, under this current aristocratic establishment.

  • Comment number 46.

    I would think it is obvious that the stress tests are a necessary tool by the EU to calm public opinion. There are a multitude of ways they could rig the tests to satisfy the public. The lazy but not very clever way is to make them easy to pass. The clever way of course is to make them just difficult enough so that the worst bank almost fails, a recommendation is ordered and the worst bank obliges with a fix. It's all happy family in the banking world, as it should be. After all, that's where our money is. Of course in the real world, when the SHTF, anything goes.

  • Comment number 47.

    I know that all 4 bank uk banks will pass these stress tests, if they dont then markets will plummet around the world! I just feel that the banks have had their fair share of crticism and slaggin but u have to remember the amount of money they pay to the UK treasury is enormous.

    Even after being bailed out by us, the UK taxpayer, they still plough a huge amount of money into our country and noone can deny that after a few years evey penny the UK government has ploughed into our banks they will get thier money back ten-fold!

    Anyone that doesnt agree with that is very short-sighted and in the end the biggest winners will be the UK government and the UK taxpayer unless they decide to pull out prematurely.

    I feel that the UK banks will prosper better than before if given the chance and i know they will pass these ridiculous tests which reallymean nothing to be honest, and i feel that we should get behind our home brands and show some faith!!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    With between 80 and 100 Tory backbenches having 'close links' to the banks and other financial institutions at is doubtful if 'the snakes in suits' will be subjected to any meaningful scrutiny.

 

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