Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Obama and the Banks.

“OMFG!”

The last twelve months have seen bank profits reach pre-crunch heights. There is no doubt that the banks were able to continue their activities only because of the intervention of world’s governments who have pumped eye-watering amounts of liquidity (money) into the banking system.

Now that the banks are producing a surplus, they have four very clear choices:

1. They can increase lending (on reasonable terms) to commerce and business.

2. They can place the money in their reserves – just in case there is another crisis or a “run” on bank assets.

3. They can repay money to the world’s taxpayers who have underwritten the banks’ past, present and future losses.

4. They can extract the money from the banking system through the medium of high salaries and bonuses.

The reality is that the banks have dabbled in all four options but through their smug bumptiousness, have created the perception that all that they are interested in is Option 4.

The banks appear to have closed ranks and decided to keep their heads down while they pick both government and taxpayer pockets.

Here in the UK, the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made increasingly strangulated noises in the bankers’ direction and attempted to appeal to the bankers’ better nature. They are yet to find it. The situation here in the UK is a delicate one because the Financial Services Industry used to add about £100 billion per annum to the country’s wealth. There are over 500 banks in the City of London and Docklands, where the majority of the business is being carried out internationally. Golden goose and all that.

To put it simply, the United Kingdon economy is over-reliant on the banks. That is why all that the politicians can do is to try and shame the bankers into complying but at the same time, they do not want London to lose its place as the world’s leading financial centre.

Our own Chancellor has stopped short of introducing legislation to curb the bankers’ excesses but instead has dabbled with a one-off bonus-related tax which the bankers have side-stepped and swatted quite neatly because they know that any levy claimed by the government will consist of no more than a refund of the government’s own money back to the government. The bankers are not-only in the driving seat but they are driving a limousine while all that the government can do is to run alongside barefoot and knock on the window while the bankers sigh, light up another Monte Cristo and count their bonuses.

Bankers used to be “middle-earners”, whereas nowadays – especially Investment Bankers, are well-and-truly in the top 10% of all earners. It is interesting to see how income distribution looks after so many years or “ersatz” socialism: The Lowest 10% of earners in the United Kingdom collect about 3% of the total earnings, whereas the top 10% of earners take home about 30% of the total.

It is doubly frustrating for a nominally socialist government which (on paper) is committed to fairer income distribution, having to stand-by as a mere spectator, while the bankers continue to plunder the economy. Some may say that the plundering is being carried out with the government’s connivance or perhaps merely as a result of the government’s intransigence and ineptitude.

That is why it was so refreshing to hear that President Barack Obama has decided to declare war on the bankers and impose some rules. The reaction of the financial markets has been spectacular and not-only indicated fear but has also demonstrated the banking industry’s foot-stamping petulance.

Bank values fell in the United States and the good news is that the “Obama-effect” is spreading .

The US Dow Jones fell by 2%. In London the Stock Exchange fell by 2.2% – led by Barclays which dropped by 3.5%. Barclays was followed by the German Deutche Bank which more-or-less matched Barclay’s fall.

The banks are fearing an imposed break-up of their operations because most of them realise that they are too big. If you listen carefully you will hear the rasping sound of Bank Directors choking on their Remys.

If a bank is too big to fail – then it is too big. THAT should be a self-evident truth.

President Obama has said that he is “ready for a  fight” with the banks. He is a very brave man because there are many within the US establishment – both Democrat and Republican who are still not 100% comfortable to see a black democrat with a social conscience running the show. Mr Obama has a difficult year ahead – but good luck to him.

He said  “Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by banks that are too big to fail.”

Goldman Sachs has just announced the equivalent of a £500,000 bonus to each of its US employees – each one of whom already averages about £300,000 in salary. Needless to say, Goldman Sachs shares have fallen  in value and perhaps finally, their stranglehold on the US economy will be broken. READ HERE.

In spite of Gordon Brown’s delusions, he has not been the “leader” during the global financial crisis. He is very much a follower who has always found it difficult to go out on a limb in the way that Obama just has.  Brown’s spokesman , City Minister Lord Myners said yesterday that the US proposals were “very much in accordance with the direction we have been setting” .  Since when?  Yesterday?

George Osborne, the Conservative Shadow Chancellor has said that if elected, the Conservatives would dismantle United Kingdom banks but only if he managed to secure international agreement.  It would seem that no-one wanted to be the first to blink and now that President Obama has shown the will and the courage – the bandwagon will begin its long and creaky journey to banking reform.

We should not be surprised however, if the banking industry regains the initiative any day soon by announcing its own plans for reform and reorganisation. Watch this space.

One of the main causes of the 2008/09 banking meltdown was (and still is) the habit that the banks acquired through gambling with their own money – the so-called proprietary trading . The problem is that they weren’t always using their own money – they were themselves borrowing the money from other banks and “investing ” it. Hopefully, that will now stop and they will only invest their customers’ money – which after all, is what they are supposed to do. Banks are not in the business of putting themselves into hock in order to gamble borrowed money on the stock exchanges.

Obama said: “While the financial system is far stronger today than it was one year ago, it is still operating under the exact same rules that led to its near collapse.”

He will change those rules but the more likely outcome is that the banks will comply without any bloodshed. There is a saying that “the fight is won – even before the first blow is struck.”

Obama has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He has been in office for one year and the banking fiasco has been a constant irritant from Day One. In addition, US unemployment is rising, he has a battle with his proposed health-care reforms and Republican Scott Brown has captured Ted Kennedy’s old Massachusetts Senate seat.

Make no mistake – Obama has diamond-hard resolve. His attack on the banks is no more than the play of  a wily gambler who pushes his chips into the middle and says ” I’m all in. What have you got?”

The banks are facing him across the table but at this stage they are not sure which of them is holding the weaker hand.

My money is on the President to prevail and for the rest of the world’s governments to back his hand.

 

 

Conservative Party Conference week.

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      • Boris Johnson once again has showed his leadership credentials by being approachable, witty and engaging. He does make the rest of them look a little bit pedestrian. In spite of his shambolic image, you can sense a rod of steel running through both his speech and personality. One to watch for the future. Imagine   a TV debate between Boris and Gordon Brown. It will never happen – but what a prospect.

 

  • Boris Johnson and friend

 

  • George Osborne’s department lined up like a row of fairground ducks was quite diverting. George Osborne is gradually shaking-off his Tim Nice-but-Dim image.

 

  • It’s very brave of David Cameron to allow Ken Clarke a voice – bearing in mind his strong Euro-sceptic stance. The Conservative Euro-sceptics should not attempt to embarrass David Cameron at Conference. They all seem to think that the next election is already won.

 

  • Custom dictates that when any Party is in the middle of its Conference, the other Parties keep quiet and do not make any pronouncements. So, Alistair Darling’s crudely populist announcement of cutting the incomes  of GPs and other high earners leaves us in no doubt that the Election campaign is now in full swing.

 

  • Retirement at 66? Purleeeze George – you can do better than that! Many will still retire at 65 and most of those who have not retired will be out of work – unless there is a local B&Q. The ACTUAL money saved will be negligible and it was hardly worth the leak.

 

  • It appears that as far as cutting Public Expenditure, the main Parties are now engaged in what can only be described as a peeing contest.

 

  • It was good to see that old duffer Kenneth Brown. So there is life after death!

 

  • The Editor of the Sun did not have to buy a single drink in the Conference bar last night. Hardly surprising but the Sun’s move to withdraw support from the Labour Party caused some disappointment among Conservatives. About as much disappointment as finding out that Gary Glitter can’t babysit tonight.

 

  • On a completely separate subject, the annual yakfest that is the 11th Pride of Britain Awards took place last night. One is never sure why only some kids with cancer attend the show, why only the kids whose parents managed to inform the media of how their brave 2year-old “dialled 999 whilst motherwas having a seizure in the bath” receive bravery awards and why Gordon Brown has to make a “surprise” appearance. We all like proper heroes but nowadays it seems that we have developed a real “need” to worship – as long as it involves lots of celebrities. If Michael Caine is made to feel any more ” ‘umble” I shall throw up. Having said all that, I’ve never managed to watch the show. This year there is a teacher whose Maths lessons contain RAP (one presumes that the “C” is silent). Then there’s the lady who stood between a small child and a Rottweiler. The best one is an ex-heroin addict with 176 convictions who now helps “young people to change their lives”.. As long as Simon Cowell, Tess Daly and Davina are there plus a room-full of tear-wracked luvvies we can rest assured that all’s well. Now where can I buy a Rottweiler? I’ve just noticed something and it is the final piece of jigsaw in a theory that I have been working on for some time. Here goes. I believe that Christopher Biggins is God. Why? because God is everywhere.

 

  • Safety campaigners are saying that if the Conservatives axe speed cameras, the accident-rate will increase. Here’s a compromise – and it will be comparatively cheap to implement. How about a sign that says “SPEED CAMERA IN 50 YARDS” on either side of every single speed camera in the country.  Not a good idea, I hear you say. Why not? Oh I see. What you really want is speeding motorists that produce a revenue and not necessarily slow motorists who do not.

 

  • Sir James Dyson managed to look like a prat when his autocue failed. A Dyson Vacuous.

 

  • Liked the announcement today that the Conservatives will begin a process of ridding us of Government forms and red tape. THAT’S the sort of thing we like to hear.

 

  • Conservatism SHOULD be the politics of giving everyone in Britain the ability, opportunity and tools to look after themselves and their families – without the smothering State intervention that is the hallmark of Socialism – even when it is wearing the thin veneer of New Labour. That should ALWAYS be, of course, coupled to the State taking care of its weakest citizens. Call it benevolent Conservatism if you like. Simple.  THAT is  the message that David Cameron and his rejuvenated Parliamentary Party should be promulgating. Needless posturing and name-calling should have no place in the modern Conservative political toolbox. David Cameron should look straight down a camera lens and explain what modern Conservatism is. Unsurprisingly, there are those who have never heard exactly what modern Conservatism represents because their views and opinions are still being distorted  and influenced by New Labour spin.

 

  • George Osborne is looking very promising.

 

  • So why DOES Jordan look as if she’s wearing a gumshield? Is in “hommage” to her cross-dressing new beau and professional thug Alex (Max – you’re running out of crap copy!) or has she been “done”. I think that we all know the answer to that one.

 

  • David Cameron has been photographed with a glass of champagne. Big deal! I shall simply repeat a previous report: The biggest consumption of champagne at  Conference time is by Labour. That was told to me by a former Chief Barman at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Hypocrites.

 

  • Today, all the Socialist rags are laying-into  George Osborne who has introduced a bit of realism into our understanding of the economy. One suspects that once the Conservatives are in power and manage to have a good look at the books, they will see that things are far worse than has so far been admitted by ther present incumbents.

 

  • We are still living in cloud-cuckoo land as far as the economy is concerned. The FTSE is UP. House prices are UP, Gold is UP, Tesco shares are UP. In fact – everything is UP. Sounds great doesn’t it? So why aren’t we all feeling more positive. The fact is that the FTSE is up because  money is being invested on the Stock Exchange as a result of bank savings rates being so derisory plus, much of the money currently being invested is foreign so it could leave us at any time. The money that is being invested by British banks is not all real money. Some of it is the stuff that has been printed by the Bank of England and handed to the banking system. Mr Quantitative Easing strikes again. Gold has been creeping up for months. It is normally viewed as a “hedge” – somewhere to run when equities and commodities are down in price. That is not the case at present.  Something that has gradually been creeping into our collective peripheral vision is the slow-collapse of the dollar. There are strong rumours that very soon, oil will no longer be traded in dollars – there is foreign plotting afoot! Once the dollar really does go into freefall, share and commodity prices will tumble very quickly. The British economy has much to fear because the factors that it has traditionally relied-upon to buttress the economy have all but gone. The City of London USED to be the world’s financial centre. That is no longer the case. WE used to MAKE things and export them. Nowadays, that is down to about 17% of the country’s total economic output. Finally, the British economy and Governmemt are “over-borrowed” with little realistic prospect of repaying much of what was borrowed. If George Osborne had been in possession of ALL the facts, I don’t believe that he would have wished to even beigin his speech yesterday. He did very well and reminded us that we need to take a more collective and inclusive approach to heal the economy.

 

  • Yesterday I said that I would probably throw -up if Michael Caine was once-again “umbled” at the Pride of Britiain Awards. Apologies to Michael as it was Joanna Lumley’s turn to be “humbled and overcome”. Please make it stop.

 

  • So Boris and Dave are ex-Bullingdon boys and used to piss it up, throw bread rolls about, get toffed-up  and pose for silly photos. Go to any Comprehensive School on Prom Night (American import, I’m afraid) and watch scores of youngsters, toffed-up, arriving in ridiculous stretch limos and being encouraged to be extremely silly. So where’s the difference between our Grease wannabees and the Bullingdon Boys. Apparently, it’s only OK to dress like a posh prat and behave outrageously if you’re NOT a posh prat. It seems that those aspirational working classes are being herded by the Labour media back towards a concept which one hoped had been left behind – The Politics of Envy.

 

  • There was a great photograph of the Pride of Britain winners outside No 10 Downing Street. Sarah Brown looked very vivacious – so why did Gordon Brown look as if someone had inserted a six-inch ruler between his cheeks? Oh I see. Smile, eh? Wow.

 

  • Are we, as a nation, losing our sense of humour? We all remember Boris Johnson insulting Liverpool, Portsmouth and rather bizarrely – Papua New Guinea. He acknowledged all that in the introduction to his speech at Conference this week. Whatever you think of Boris, you have to admit that he carries a very mischievous sense of humour. That reminds me of a pilot who was censured by his bosses for the following Tannoy announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to fly over Liverpool. Would you please ensure that you have placed your hands over your wallets.”

 

  • This woman’s husband, Andrew George was taken ill but has now been discharged and is being comforted by his family: 

  • She used to work at Little Ted’s Nursery and is a pervert. Although her husband does have our sympathy, one cannot help but think that at some stage during the marriage, he would have benefited from a visit to Specsavers.

 

  • The Conservatives have announced that they will deal with binge-drinking and teenage violence through the medium of taxation. Surprisingly, this is the first Conservative initiative that I disagree with. Remember that some drugs are far more expensive than alcohol, yet, money is still found for them. The alcohol genie is so far out of the bottle that there are no initiatives that will ever change the Brits’ uneasy relationship with alcohol. Social Engineering through taxation does not work. Let’s face it, Brits drink to get drunk – and then they drink some more. A few more pence on booze will make no difference whatsoever. Practical tip: The increased tax will be on cider and strong lager so do what kids do already, buy normal lager and tip cheap vodka into it. Now what?

 

  • Could it be true? Avram Grant is returning to Portsmouth as Director of Football? That should cheer the place up. Here is a photo of Avram practicing his Gordon Brown smile.

 

  • Sharon Shoesmith has  launched judicial review proceedings against Haringey Council, Ofsted and the Children’s Secretary Ed Balls. She was in charge of Haringey Social Services during the Baby P murder. One of the great British traditions is that if there is a screw-up on your watch then you fall on your sword. Ms SHOESMITH DID HERSELF NO FAVOURS during her few TV appearances when the Baby P affair was at its peak. She seemed aloof, smug, unrepentant and unapologetic. ” I was following orders” is the usual excuse. Hers was “We followed all procedures”. That neither exonerated her, nor did it go down well with the public.  Had she cried, begged forgiveness and made some sort of admission, the public would have been a little more sympathetic. As it was, Ed Balls did exactly the right thing in instructing Haringey to sack her without compensation.

 

  • Labour bleating noises have been heard again today. General Sir Francis Richard Dannatt, GCB, CBE, MC is our most distinguished soldier and tomorrow (Thursday) he will be officially announced as a Conservative Life Peer who will be advising the Conservatives on defence. General Dannatt was our highest-ranking  soldier and Chief of General Staff. He was going to be promoted to Chief of Defence Staff , which means that he would have become head of all of our armed forces – not just the Army. However, Gordon Brown personally blocked the promotion and General Dannatt was instead given the consolation prize of Constable of the Tower of London. Traditionally the Chief of Defence Staff is principal military adviser to the British Government. Gordon Brown was miffed because of General Dannatt’s “repeated calls for better pay and conditions for servicemen”. So General Dannatt’s sins? Speaking his mind, not being a Brown “yes man” and caring about his soldiers’ safety and welfare. Gordon Brown really has no idea whatsoever – probably because he was dealing with a proper  leader. It’s patently obvious that Brown does not recognise the species. He should learn that leadership is much more than Benito Mussolini-type posturing with overworked, overtired, adjective-free, moribund speeches.

 

  • Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Quite right too. Climate, Democracy, Nuclear Disarmament – in fact, everything that he has touched so far. It looks as if Zimbabwe’s Morgan Chanderai was the runner-up. There is already talk  and discussion of whether Barack Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize with only nine months in office. The fact is that the Nobel committee can see that in spite of the fact that Obama’s actual achievements so far  are comparatively modest – he is by far the most influential individual on the planet as far as the short and medium term futures of the Earth are concerned. The progress that he has made in the last nine months is nothing short of remarkable.

 

  • It appears that today is probably the last posting day for Christmas. If you  want to send cards abroad, you’re too late. Christmas parcels should have been posted by March 31st. Why didn’t Crozier stick to football. This is yet another case of a Business Model triumphing over the Customer. Perhaps Royal Mail should be renamed Royal Lemming.

Good Luck mate.

“And it shall be a government, too, that gives this country strength and confidence in leadership both at home and abroad……………………..
It shall be a government rooted in strong values, the values of justice and progress and community, the values that have guided me all my political life. But a government ready with the courage to embrace the new ideas necessary to make those values live again for today’s world – a government of practical measures in pursuit of noble causes. That is our objective ……………………………..
Above all, we have secured a mandate to bring this nation together, to unite us – , one nation in which our ambition for ourselves is matched by our sense of compassion and decency and duty towards other people. Simple values, but the right ones.”

Barack Obama 2009? 

No – that was Tony Blair, May 1997.

There is little doubt that the words will remain memorable but history judges deeds and not intent.

Do you remember those optimism-fired stirrings of confidence and euphoria as Tony Blair concluded that short speech on the steps of No 10 Downing Street on 2nd May 1997?

Here we are in 2009. We are older and yes, maybe wiser but here is one lesson that we should have learned:

Ultimately, every political leader either fails or is found out.

Let us hope that Barack Obama is the exception because the weight of expectation is already too heavy.

Obamaburger.

Obama orders a burger:

“As the pink fingers of dawn caress the pale face of this momentous day, I would ask something of you – my fellow American……….. Take your gnarled hand , so majestically hewn by generations of selfish and greed-inspired economic oppression and reach…………yes, reach for that burger bun ( Yes we can!) and having split it with the ice-sharp steel of your artisan knife – thrust into it the onion-laced beef  and hand it to me –  for I am like you . I am your brother and I know that you also feel my hunger and the hunger of the people, your people……OUR PEOPLE!  We are the people!  And when you have handed it to me, I will endeavour to accomplish what has been instituted by families up and down this great land since the mists of time parted, to reveal our forebear – the ordinary man ( Yes we can!). Not asking for anything more that a bite – or just the opportunity of a bite. Now if that bite seems unpleasant or offensive in any way – we neither make nor demand apology  – we simply ask the one question that matters – ketchup or none? I do not yet know the answer but…..we shall begin our journey together and  we shall find out! It will be our quest! We may not get it right first time but one day we will know! God Bless the United States of America!”

” Do you want fries with that?”