BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Paul Mason
« Previous | Main | Next »

In other news...crisis in the eurozone

Post categories:

Paul Mason | 10:15 UK time, Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Manchester Guardian led on the docks strike; weirdly, so did Dagens Nyheter; ditto Svenska Dagbladet.

Of the newspaper front pages displayed here on the walls of the Press Room in Brussels, only Il Messaggero led on the story history would remember: the signing of the Treaty of Rome. Even there, however, and in the other coverage on 26 March 1957, the foundation of the EEC was seen as a junior economic counterpart to the creation of Euroatom: this was after all the Cold War, when nuclear power seemed more important that trade.

It's a reminder of how hard it is to get your head around European stories. They are the height of tedium: men - it is nearly always men - of grey suit, grey hair, grey visage who could not have achieved anything but middling office in their own countries, stumble through press conferences in which their entire plan is to reveal nothing, excite nobody.

When something does happen, what passes for journalism for many of the correspondents stationed here seems to be to get hold of a white piece of paper with an EU pronouncement on it, pick up a phone and read it to a copy desk somewhere on the other side of the world.

Despite this, there is a humdinger of a story going on in the Justus Lipsius building here in Brussels. The EU's major powers are struggling to force Ireland to take a bailout - in order to stave off the second major crisis of the eurozone this year.

The stakes are high: Greece has been bailed out but at the price of economic penury; now Ireland must accept the same, and Portugal - because after that the EU runs out of stricken countries small enough to bail out. The next domino is Spain, and the combined resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) could not save it if the bond markets turned against it. Hence the contagion has to be stemmed at Ireland.

We are learning this morning of the scale of the proposed bailout: 100bn euros reports the Wall Street Journal, which seems to have the best inside track at these talks. Though the rescue was spun last night as being "aimed at the banks" - it has to cauterise Ireland's sovereign debt credibility.

Let's be clear what happens if Ireland does not accept a bailout, or if it doesn't work. Sooner or later the bond markets decide the economic governance of Europe is not credible and they "enforce truth" - they refuse to lend to southern Europe and they call the bluff of Northern Europe which has said it stands behind their debts.

To sell the bailouts to their populations, north European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands are insisting on quid pro quo: IMF involvement, therefore strict conditions, and after that a revised Lisbon Treaty with penalties and enforcement mechanisms for those who break the fiscal rules, or let their banking systems overborrow.

The result of this will be a scale of economic centralisation, and loss of national sovereignty, not dreamed of by the discreet nabobs who signed the Treaty of Rome.

If this story were happening in Washington - an economy of 300m people on the verge of major constitutional change and institutional crisis - there would be incessant rolling news, interviews, drama and trauma. Here there is only cold coffee and grey bureaucracy and calm.

This is the EU's secret of success so far: its deliberations are opaque, nobody quite seems responsible for anything, and the accountability mechanisms are one stage removed from the people.

I think they originally put these newspapers on the Press Room wall as a joke on the journalists: look how you missed the story. But the joke's on everybody now: the euro is creaking, teetering. It will survive but at the cost of a major power shift in Europe. But the sheer greynesss and dispiriting atmosphere of Brussels blankets the story in a quality of - if not irrelevance then opaqueness.

I've often wondered what it would have been like to be a court reporter in the Forbidden City during the Qing Dynasty. I think I'm beginning to find out.


  • Comment number 1.


    Or is that a question for gumshoe Crick?

    It's not 'Founding Fathers' stuff - is it!

    Do they know what INTEGRITY is in any of the 27 languages?

  • Comment number 2.

    Behind the euro-fog, there is a Lehmans moment - Ireland now is the too-big-to-fail and the only firewall is other peoples' cash via a pooled sovereignty nobody wants....sometime,somewhere the markets are going to take a dunking - its the laws of nature to which even the euro-greys are subject.

  • Comment number 3.

    Brussels is so remote from the member countries there is not the ability to gather to protest outside the towers of greyness en masse. There is no Tea Party uniting the disaffected peoples of Greece, Eire and the rest of the EU people together in one vibrant, angry movement.

    It is not like Washington where people can get on a bus, a train or a plane and, within a few hours at most, feel they are protesting for their rights in their own country - within earshot of the people who need their votes.

    The EU has deliberately made that all seem vague, distance, difficult. It is almost as if what is said and done in Brussels does not affect us but, as bloggers on here know to well, our lives are increasingly controlled and directed by the grey suits in that dull city.

    Even if such a demostration could be organised I am sure the member states would restrict travel from within their own borders. At worst, the EU gets protested against in London, Athens, Berlin, Paris but never in Brussels - allowing the grey minds in the grey suits to remain distant and aloof. Safe.

    It is healthy for democracy that every now and then politicians feel a healthy dose of fear.

  • Comment number 4.

    Who will vote for Lisbon II - the Irish?; the Greeks? Just where do these bond marketeers go if they wont lend to the PIIGS and are they the same organisations that lent to the insolvent banks. Does the risk-reward ratio not apply when lending to states and how is it they seem to act in concert. Is this a case of nothing to fear but fear itself? Here is a loan you say you dont need but you have to have it and when you get it you have to give France and Germany a veto over you economic policy. If this is the reality then good bye EU!

  • Comment number 5.

    @1 Barrie:

    Even in the original six there was a certain amount of systemic corruption, in at least one of the countries. I suppose it was like a marriage* to a cheating partner, hoping that the solemnity of the ceremony would change behaviour. But the behaviour has got worse and become habitual. Ignoring reality and fudging the rules for the sake of the partnership's continued existence has become rule zero of the EU.

    *Admittedly a strange polygamous polyandry - I won't even speculate as to who was doing what to whom!

  • Comment number 6.


    My guess is that 'The Ape' is inherently corrupt (dog eat dog) but on becoming 'Confused by Language' and acquiring a hijackable higher (human) cerebral capacity, it evolved into my self-defeating 'Ape Confused by Language', further EXACERBATED BY MIXING LANGUAGES AND ASSOCIATED CULTURES into the current unsustainable disaster. (And I didn't even mention money.)

    Tucked away in a fold of the cortex, there might be a cowering synapse or two, directly concerned with integrity. Atrophy - there they go.

  • Comment number 7.

    the bigger story is why hasn't the world economy rebalanced? why do countries/banks etc need to keep extending their bailouts? Why [and with whose money] is the Chinese surplus growing [it must be coming from somewhere]? Maybe they are all related?

    so the bailouts are a symptom of the global imbalances. the world economy is stuck. In a zero sum game for china to get rich [which it says is its only aim] we must get poor. Its working very nicely.

    So all the eu are doing are finding more money that will end up as chinese surplus. In terms of correcting anything economically its all a bit futile.

  • Comment number 8.


    It's worth repeating - China has a trade deficit with Germany, Japan, Australia, etc. There are, of course, imbalances. But not all in one direction.

  • Comment number 9.

    @6 Strangely enough, I was taking my (almost) daily look at Paul Krugman's blog this morning, and I came across this NYT link to a fascinating (non-economics) essay on both psychology and behaviour.

    An integrity centre in the brain? Maybe - at least for some of us. Even if that's just because we have evolved as social animals, where the well-being of the community is important to our success as a species. (Also, selfishly, we like "feeling good" about ourselves.)

    Krugman is on the ball as ever as regards the current crises:

    This one in particular for a global view:

    There will be no solution to the world's debt crisis which is entirely just: we must look for the path which (1) causes the least misery now, and (2) is prophylactic against future recurrences of the crisis. That to my mind means taking on and destroying the power of the banks and "wealth manipulating" institutions who have got us where we are today.

  • Comment number 10.


    I suspect the sexual drive of our Ape would ensure our survival, even if we became devoid of integrity/altruism totally. We would just be apes who can devise and enact horrors that our less-evolved cousins can't manage. 'Hell on Earth'. About right for the 'End Times'?

    Money is an invention of the Confused Ape, and I have to say I feel it is small beer, compared to the inexorable progress towards unsustainable lifestyles - when both physically and psychologically assessed.

    But look - is that a new Star in the Heavens? Oh - no. Just a hijacked Jumbo.

  • Comment number 11.


    how's that help ireland? The deficit with australia is over minerals. The others won't be over low cost merchandise. Global rebalancing is about taking jobs away from china in areas they are engaged in. The mass employment jobs.

    its also worth repeating china is actively engaged in keeping its currency devalued preventing global rebalancing. The yuan should be the most expensive currency in the world not the cheapest.

    there was a report today that the uk toy shops are likely to run out of toys because china isn't producing enough. Yet the axiom behind the article was as if china was the only place 'allowed' to make toys. So not only are the toys not being made but there is 'no alternative'. The lack of the alternative [through currency manipulation] is why there is no balancing.

    over 50% of uk jobs are in the state sector. this is due to be slashed. the jobs have to come from somewhere otherwise you are just transferring people onto benefits.[which is a lot cheaper than keeping them in state jobs.]

    the logic of efficient markets isn't working. we need trade tariffs and a robust economic policy that matches the naked aggression of the chinese communist economic strategy.

  • Comment number 12.


    krugman is seen as a lefty which why the journos like him.

  • Comment number 13.

    @12 Jaunty - I often think you're a lefty yourself, but are reluctant to accept it. I often find myself agreeing with the substance of your posts.

    As for journos liking Krugman, Murdoch's attack dogs in the US certainly don't.

    To me Krugman is roughly where Vince Cable appeared to be before becoming a minister. It's not the label which counts, it's the policies. Krugman says very little, if anything, on policy that the likes of Ted Heath and R A Butler would have disagreed with.

    Personally, my main disagreement with Krugman is that he thinks the present system is fixable with tinkering, whereas I think it's unsustainable in the medium to long term. I'm not sure I want to live long enough to be proved right.

  • Comment number 14.

    I know that the Ireland issue is all 'banks', and that there is a huge property bubble in there somewhere.

    But, according to Polish academic research, 34% of all the 'remittances' from Poles working overseas have been coming from Ireland.

    * Ireland has a population only 1/15 of that of the UK
    * Another 1/3 of Polish remittances have been coming from the UK.
    * This is only Polish remittances. Many other Eastern European workers (and non-EU) have been in there and sending or taking the cash home; that is the purpose of the exercise.

    I do wonder whether, if those wages had been going to workers who were actually spending and recycling the cash in Ireland - the earn /spend cycle that any economy needs - rather than leaking it out of the country, how much of a beneficial, or mitigating, effect this would have had on the fortunes of the Irish economy.

    Such remittances or wages taken home may enable returning Poles to have their nether regions licked clean by Poles who havent gone overseas, or to distort the Polish property market with their earnings (is this good?). Certainly the Polish economy is NOT in recession.

    And the relatively cheap labour costs of such workers in Ireland has certainly been very much the underlying means for the housing bubble.

    So there is a connection - in fact, full circle.

    But it will be a long wait before anyone at the BBC would put 2 and 2 together and raise this issue, I trow.

  • Comment number 15.

    ...the yuan may become one of the three major global currencies, with the dollar and the euro, in 20 to 30 years. ...

    no rush then.

    so that is the timescale they see as necessary to bleed everyone else dry?

    Chinese communists are actively preventing capital inflows into china.

  • Comment number 16.

    Good article in the Telegraph yesterday - is he right?

  • Comment number 17.


    yes the usa red meat for brains journos don't like K. I was thinking more the guardianistas.

    me a lefty? Nooooooooooo. For me class/goods is not the highest idea of the mind. For me the essential question is 'if The Good is the highest idea of the mind what follows?'

  • Comment number 18.

    the Irish are a very proud nation and deem it a loss of sovereignty if the take the bailout...well, ha bloody ha, this is the real world my beautiful Irish friends of whom I am one but the utter greed, slothfullness, downright madness to go on borrowing when every sane economist was screaming NO NO No and yet on you went, you mad Celtic fools taking no heed of the morrow but splashing out on a today that was going to end when the University tower clock struck midnight and even then you tried to put a last bet on so intense was your addiction....and now as the dawn breaks and the true cost hits the carpet and you are friendless as nobody has time for anyone on the lamb you think it will all go away......why should it all go away, you bet and blew it, all those unsold blocks of flats that nobody can afford have us this side of the Irish sea who flirted with that currency but kept our skirts on....don't want to lose face? That went months ago.....

  • Comment number 19.

    Money upside down (and inside out!):

    "Society pays interest to banks on money that financial institutions created from nothing. After banks have leveraged the maximum gain from society, then society is asked to pay for the losses of the banking system as it falls apart."

    In other words, privatised profits and socialised losses. Will the BBC ever utter these words?

    "When debt levels have increased beyond the capacity of the economy to repay, there are two alternatives for remedy. The first will be to maintain the value of the debt. This will initially result in all funds from productive activities being transferred to the banks."

    This has been the remedy since 2007. A desperate attempt to prop up insolvent zombie banks. Again, will be BBC ever raise the possibility that the banks are de facto insolvent?

    "This ultimately results in bankruptcy, forcing an end to productive activity. Once this happens, loan losses will wipe out the banking system."

    Put another way, 'we know the system will collapse, just we'd rather bankrupt a nation first than bankrupt the private creditors'. Meanwhile, it's stuff your pockets lads!

    (If you've not been 'looting' these last few years, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??)

    "Postponed is not cancelled out. The bitter reckoning will come."

  • Comment number 20.

    Surely the ConDems are now going to have come off the fence one way or another on the EU?

    How can the Europhobes be persuaded to go on holding their noses wthout a referendum on structural changes to the EU & EuroLand?

    How can the Europhiles be persuaded to go on holding back from supporting a Lisbon II to provide at the very least a bit of breathing space?

    Something's going to give sooner or later...

    As the leading European centre for banking and finance, the UK should be right in there playing a leadership role in the EU not only to sort the mess out, but also to ensure our interests are fully taken into account.

    Swanning around on the periphery, avoiding any suggestion of involvement in constitutional change in Europe to avoid being accused of failing to hold an unwinnable referendum smacks of political cowardice and sacrificing the UK's national interest on the altar of party political expediency.

    Are we, as Cameron claims "at the heart of Europe, but not controlled by it?"

    I'd say we are in a much larger organ a lot lower down containing a lot of very unpleasant, smelly brown material - and potentially at risk of being forced to leave the body entirely...

    We stand on the sidelines almost laughing at the Euro's problems - but if the UK follows Eire into the property / banking meltdown, we will wish we had joined the Euro because UK PLC will be on its own without the Euro lifeboat in a queue of nations all going to the IMF in the hope of being bailed out.

    For all the UKIP, Murdoch press and Daily Mail Europhobes who have kept the eurosceptic propaganda going, I'd say that the UK's potential exposure to Eire/Greek style financial meltdown happening here proves just how vulnerable the UK was all along on our own - let's hope we don't have to pay the price for allowing ourselves to be misled on not joinig the Euro...

    Quite how Cameron can sign up to joining in to help Eire whilst claiming he's not crossed the line on EU reform without holding a referendum seems to hang on the fact that what is going on to support Eire is not officially allowed under the EU rules - it's all getting pretty tenuous....

    And it isn't over until the bloated Icelandic Bankers sings...

    What happened to Iceland when their banking system and currency melted down?

    They had no choice but to apply to join the Euro.

    Daily Mail Headline the day after UK PLC's next banking crisi?

    "Hurrah for the Grey Suits!"

    They'll also be able to sing that song from the 1930s:

    "tomorrow belongs to me"

    except it really ought to say the "next 50 years belongs to me", as it will take that long to pay off the debts.

  • Comment number 21.


    yes its another cost of immigration. the govt might borrow to pump money into the economy but if its spent abroad what use is that to the uk? The lefties thought it great as 'redistribution of wealth' after all in their eyes we are a 'rich country'. No matter that its a 'rich' country with a trillion in debt and where councils are turning off street lights.

    the economic and political crisis will crystallise around unemployment. Jobs is at the heart of this. Every week the local paper runs stories like 3000 people applying for 200 jobs. Soon maybe a million state workers joining the queue. Creation of non state jobs is key.

  • Comment number 22.

    The EU is a project of the past which is unable to adapt for the future.

    Outdated ineffective inefficient undemocratic authoritarian run by idiots destructive and any other adjective I can't think of at the moment for something that needs to be killed off.

    Before even more damage is done to the flagging countries signed up to it all treaties should be burned and something far more up to date simple and sensible put in its place.

    Like the common market with each country having its own independence and currency of choice and an open trading agreement throughout Europe including Turkey and Russia.

    At some time in the near future in its present form the EU will fail so better to prepare for the future now before it becomes completely unmanageable and damaging to the people who suffer under it.

  • Comment number 23.


    the original purpose of fractional reserve was as unsecured risk capital e.g sending goods by ships etc. it has beent used instead to fund consumption. it needs to be returned to risk capital.

  • Comment number 24.

    Ireland's problems, and the UK's, stem from the decision to support the banks. I have to say, that I bought into the line that we had to do this to prevent systemic failure. But it now seems that systemic failure was not prevented - merely postponed.

    This appears to have been because no-one really knew, or if they knew they were not admitting the true scale of the problem. So, having thrown the banks a lifeline we find it has become a noose around our necks.

    With hindsight, it is clear that Ireland (and the UK) should have allowed the banks to go under and managed the fall out - eg put the banks into administration, wiping out their debts before nationalising them: and then guaranteeing people's deposits (this would need a considered definition of what/who was to be protected) while working through the balance sheet to clear out the bad loans. Eventually, much smaller banks could perhaps have been privatised as going concerns.

    With hindsight, Greece and other national Governments should have been allowed to default. It is not a given that Greek default would bring down the Euro: any more than a Californian default would bring down the dollar.

    This would upset those people who had lent to the Irish banks and/or to Greece: but so be it. Their risk!

    As it is, the whole thing is being driven by a desire to support "the bond markets" and to persuade people to keep on buying/lending. It seems to me that we will never get out of the hole we're in that way: the only winners are bond-holders who now dictate policy with the threat of withdrawing. But if, as has been said, the loans are far to great ever to be repaid - then borrowing more, or for that matter lending more, hardly makes any sense.

    If the real downside, at the end of the process, is that people will no longer lend to Governments: and so Government's have to live within their means - is that such a bad thing? And with QE in a Government's economic armory is it such a threat?

  • Comment number 25.

    Spot on tFoth.

    It must not be forgot that in the moment of panic... I mean, in the moment of crisis... the politicians turned to the advice of bankers on what to do with the banks.

    It would be hysterical if it was not so damning that Brown, with all his Socialist-Marxism seething deep within, is the person responsible for propping up the banks, making the bankers incredibly wealthier and impoverishing the rest of us.

    The ultimate irony is that, so far, he has not been appointed to the board of one of the banks.

    As much as I now loathe him as a person I hope someone points in the direction of a good doctor - he looked grey, exhausted and quite ill standing at the Remembrance Day Service.

  • Comment number 26.

    Spot on #20 Hawkeye
    Your first link will require some serious bedtime reading though!

    The corporations have usurped the state and the political class. We live in a pure fascist system now. Tabble was right, what's left of the state is disappearing fast (ref Blond and DHB etc) and will disappear even faster with the neo-con libertarian's (aka Trotskyists) blue team in charge.

    Brown doesn't have a single socialist bone in his body. If he was a socialist then why didn't he immediately re-instate clause 4 (i.e. ownership of the means of production) we he came to power, instead he did the opposite - he bailed out the banks at the expense of the proletariat, just as he was supposed to. All he ever headed up was the libertarian's red team. Also note that Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of the bailout, is a Trotskyite entryist into the Labour Party (ref Private Eye).

    Don't give up on Brown ultimately receiving his 30-pieces-of-silver from one of the dark priesthood financial institutions just yet. His philanthropic trips to Africa (to help the poor and starving there) are just a sop. Did you know he even invited himself onto a parliamentary select committe on humanitarian aid to Africa last week, which was his first utterances in the house since he was dragged out of No. 10. This strange fact was even remarked on at the satrt of the select committee hearing.

    Remember, don't judge them by their rhetoric as it is all subconcious lying, they can only be judged on the outcomes of their behaviour. It's all about the intensional verbs - now who else kept saying that?

  • Comment number 27.

    I can see why Wenger doesn't have many Englishmen in his side these days!

    France are giving England a French football lesson tonite....and I have to travel to France tomorrow :(

  • Comment number 28.


    "It's all about the intensional verbs - now who else kept saying that?"

    And I am nothing like James (he that is called Gordon) Brown. 'The Teacher' was both learned and ignorant - his ignorance being of his own failings. I hope he will resurrect; 3 days not obligatory.

    In passing - interesting you use the past tense DJ (I have copied). Do you know something we don't?

  • Comment number 29.

    I am probably missing something fundamental, but on an intuitive level and within the limits of my patchy economic knowledge I quite like the idea of a brave UK _Ireland bailout / economic alliance of the un-dead.

    On the face of it, it does seem like the blind leading the blind, but if Ireland go back to being pegged against the pound, we can both de-value together in double quick time off the back of our collective debts and get a head start on the 'race to the bottom' currency war and europe would have one less PIIG to have to deal with along with its troublesome political implications for the Lisbon treaty.

    Everyones a winner.

    Sound like a plan Herman / anyone?

  • Comment number 30.

    #19 Hawkeye_Pierce

    "'we know the system will collapse, just we'd rather bankrupt a nation first than bankrupt the private creditors"

    Or perhaps they will bankrupt the whole capitalist world first!

  • Comment number 31.

    One for you in particular Jericoa:

    It was linked by the New Economics Foundation facebook page this morning.

  • Comment number 32.

    #24 Tfoth
    "Ireland's problems, and the UK's, stem from the decision to support the banks." Spot on.
    Don't kid yourselves this is a problem of sub-prime property debts gone nasty at the banks. The problem is much deeper and we haven't actually got to the bottom of it yet.
    If you want a good read and an explanation as to why we are bailing out Irish banks try here the book review summarises the point:
    The CDO's bought by yours and my pension funds, banks, investors the world over (rated AAA by the rating agencies) including Ireland, were created in their $ billions by Wall Street initially based on sub-prime property then when they ran out of crappy property loans, by CDS's on those crappy CDO's and by CDS's on those CDS's and again and again. The black hole is very, very large indeed.
    As Roubini says, this bailout is a sticking plaster at best.
    Problem is that whether as taxpayers or as pension holders/investors sooner or later a haircut is coming to us all.

  • Comment number 33.

    Sorry folks, the link doesn't work but you'll get there by Google whatever.

  • Comment number 34.

    Lets all think like George :

    1) it is not the case that taxpayer funding to inner London needy tennants is fair.

    2) it is not the case that taxpayer funding to students is fair

    3) it is not the case that taxpayer funding to foreign governments is fair ( unless it could mean losses to my banking chums )

    Yes I know that the funding is in the terms of a loan, but lets face it if that loan is nothing more than adding some more digits to B0E balance sheets, then it amounts to taxpayer funding.

    P.S enjoying reading the decluttered comments !

  • Comment number 35.

    #32 Tony

    "The big short" is next on my list. I'm currently racing through Yves Smith's ECONned, and strongly recommend it to all sane & curious people:

    This book consolidates all the recent propositions about how we are all getting monumentally RIPPED OFF by a fraudulent financial sector, facilitated by a docile public, celeb obsessed media and Gvt stooges.

    Rather than just chunter about it, I've exercised my democratic duty by submitting a 5000 word discussion paper to the Independent Commission on Banking, portraying these SUBSTANTIATED and LEGITIMATE concerns. Exec summary below:


    The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that there a number of fundamental issues with the banking practice of Securitisation. There is mounting evidence to support the following key criticisms:

    1) The very structure of separating loan origination from ownership awakens deep rooted concerns about the exploitation of asymmetric information, namely Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard
    2) The expectation of market operations to effectively regulate credit risk is shown to be unfounded, instead resulting in ill-conceived and excessive lending practices
    3) The recent growth in debt levels therefore may be masking a more fundamental issue of declining debt quality, such as debt for consumption and Ponzi financing
    4) Risk transfer practices mean that poor credit risk judgements are increasingly likely to be borne by unsuspecting counter-parties such as underwriters of Credit Default Swaps and central banks enjoying Government support
    5) Finally, the climate for fraudulent activity is amplified as Government support for institutions with the potential for suffering losses (on securitised assets) increases.

    This paper recommends further investigation into the contribution played by securitisation on masking debt deterioration through deceptive (but currently permitted) tactics of creative accounting.


    As you say Tony, when we try to follow the trail and catch the culprits it will be hard for us to avoid chasing our own tails, as it will look like we got ourselves in to this mess (just look at the way the Irish people are being portrayed as the ones who created the specultative bubble, and therefore they DESERVE the austerity - a familiar strategy used in Greece, I recall).

    Meanwhile, the crafty will have made off with the loot!

  • Comment number 36.

    Sorry to bore you all again today, but on last night's NN Kirstie interviewed former Chancellor Norma Lamont. Old man Norma did not seem to get it, moaning on about UK contributing £7bn to Irelands bailout and nothing more, and that this was controversial to the Eurosceptics in his party. He didn't seem to be aware that the £7bn being talked about is the UK's proportional contribution to the EU/IMF bailout fund already in place. Kirstie tried to press him on the BILATERAL UK proposed bailout mooted by Gideon earlier in the day. Norma didn't seem to be aware of this, so Kirstie got nowhere. Anyone else notice? Norma did give a very good impersonation of a broken man.

  • Comment number 37.

    @32 Thank you for that link Tony.

    Again and again we return to the same facts: that banks and financial traders have indulged in behaviour which, in any other walk of life, would have been judged to be at best criminally negligent, and at worst malignantly criminal. However, it appears that the law has not kept up with the complexities of this behaviour. Unfortunately at the moment it is considered more just to let innocent people lose their livelihoods and homes than to legislate retrospectively to punish the guilty.

    In fact, many forms of financial attack are perfectly legal in a way that corresponding physical attack would not be. We need new legislation to criminalise "trading without due care and attention", and "acts of financial terrorism". The minimum penalty would be confiscation of any gains perceived to be obtained gained as a result. Europe would be a good place to start, as the vested interests in the US would do their best to sabotage and international standards.

    I would go further, at least in campaigning. It is quite clear to me that there is an "Axis of Financial Evil" which has caused this misery and still profits from it. Goldman Sachs was a villain in both the 1929 and the current crises. The institutions which create no wealth, but exist as financial parasites should be targetted for destruction. They are a far bigger drain on Western society than Somali pirates.

    It will be far from easy: the south-east of England is dependant for its prosperity on the City. Yet for nearly a century this has been to the detriment of the real economy in the rest of Britain. I am afraid there is little doubt in my mind that the present government's policies are designed to punish the victims in order to protect the perpetrators.

  • Comment number 38.

    thought Norma looked like a Panda...maybe that's his disguise...

  • Comment number 39.

    @35 Well done Hawkeye!

    @36 Carry on Tony, You aren't boring me.


More from this blog...

Latest contributors

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.