CRASH 2: Downgraded Italy, degraded ethics and lowgrade politics

Vince Cable shows his passionate support for the euro

CRASH 2: Alarm bells over Italy, cat and mouse in Greece, Nick Clegg says no to the Euro, banks swindle  governments and screw employees, and Google does a bit of evil. But only a teeny, tiny little bit.

Singing from last week’s hymn-sheet as usual this morning, the BBC describes the S&P downgrade of Italy as ‘a serious wake-up call’ for the EU. One wonders what grade of alarm clock or other equipment it would take to raise the major players from their odd combination of torpor and arrogance. A direct thermo-nuclear attack, perhaps – or a collision with another planet.

Anyway, it’s all burning rubber at hot metal up the Beeb today, because their second business lead was this one: ‘There is concern among Greece’s international creditors that it is not doing enough to get its spending under control and to warrant the next 8bn-euro (£7bn; $11bn) instalment of its rescue loan.’

You have to get up early to catch that Robert Peston on the back foot, and no mistake. But there’s tough competition from the LibDems, who are in Conference at the moment, although – having watched ten minutes of it yesterday – I’d really rather they were in camera. Thrills and spills yesterday included Deputy PM Nick Clegg saying Britain is unlikely to join the euro during his “political lifetime”, and dubbed the issue “off the horizon”. Or, in another form of measured applying the sane to deranged spectrum, off the scale. But not for Vince Cable, who insisted the euro “could still be a success”. The Business Secretary did not expand on this theme, but suggestions for how the euro could be a success include as a novelty toilet tissue, limited editions set in amber for collectors, upmarket wedding confetti, and as the wrapping for nouvelle cuisine fish n chips.

Still, proof continues to pour in that the banking community is much maligned, and – as the Conservative Party and its inhouse magazine The Bluerinse Whitewash averr – the time for banker bashing is long past. Yesterday it emerged that Credit Suisse had for years been swindling the German government, and so they settled out of Court for a very large sum of money indeed. Nobody went to jail.

In the US,  a Federal court ruled that high-level executive Eilen Foster, having reported corrupt lending practices at Countrywide Financial Corporation, was improperly fired by BoA (which was just, you know, tangentially implicated) for leading internal investigations that ‘revealed widespread and pervasive wire, mail and bank fraud’ at the lender. The Labor Department ordered Bank of America Corp., which bought Countrywide, to pay the former executive roughly $930,000 and reinstate her. Nobody went to jail.

And at World Class ETF trader UBS, the loss incurred by an evil genius mastermind on the Delta Desk has just gone up…by $300,000,000. Well, I mean – you know how it is with the insurance claim: pile everything in that you can. Kweku Adoboli will be going to jail.

For those of our readers keen on abolishing all regulation of banks, I offer this remarkable passage from the indexuniverse financial site today:

‘According to market convention in Europe, transactions in ETFs, like those in equities, are settled on the second or third day after the initial contract is agreed. By agreement, however, and particularly in bilateral (“over-the-counter” or “OTC”) transactions, settlement can occur either sooner or later.’

Conventions are so much more libertarian than obligations, don’t you think? I particularly like the theme of voluntary efficiency that underpins the phrase, ‘settlement can occur either sooner or later.’ That way, you always know where you are.

Business outside of the banking sector is pretty much the same in terms of ethics these days, the only difference being that they don’t pretend to see nothing wrong with being naughty: on the whole, they have the decency to try and hide it. And, having done it, not to give any answers of  a truthful nature (Newscorp strategy) or simply not to give answers at all (Google).

As most of you will know by now, Google disabled The Slog’s gmail account last week, because it does no evil in any shape or form. I’ve mailed out via Outlook to the names I still have with them, but if you’re not on it, the full account is below. Apparently, by using the gmail system I was naive, asking for trouble, and something of a drama-queen martyr. ‘What do you expect?’ the patronising threaders ask rhetorically. My reply is always the same: ‘something better’. Cynicism is the worst kind of naivety. See yer later.

I’d imagine some of you have noticed there haven’t been any emails from me over the last week or so.

This is because Gmail has disabled my account. They’ve done this, as they say, because they can – but they’re not saying why. I’ve asked them four times, and after that it’s a waste of time really.

For what it’s worth, I did a quick analysis of each time this has happened, and there is an uncanny correlation between the occurrence, and writing something negative about President Obama. (If you remember, it was writing about Obama that got me banned from Huffington Post as well). Brief research in the States revealed fairly quickly that there, the Democrats find anti-Obama sites and complain in force about ‘hate and abuse’ on the sites, to have them shut down. The truly sad thing is that some of the anti-Obama sites really are venomously racist. Such is the nature of political debate and censorship in the 21st Century.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I’ve lost 634 email addresses painstakingly built up since 2006 – and in the UK, I have no legal right to their return. If you read the Google Terms of Slavery, you’ll spot that they can truss your granny up in piano wire and dump her in a wheelie bin if it takes their fancy. In the US, such a TOS would be illegal, I’m told: there, the addresses on a mail account remain the user’s property – whether the service is free or not. Here in the theme park called Mammonworld, there’s nothing you can do. I raised this issue with several senior MPs three years ago, and of course they all promised to help. You can guess what happened, so I won’t bother to go into it. See recent post ‘The citizen always comes last’.

However, all is far from lost. The web address for the site is . If you click on that now and then plonk it into your Favourites box, you don’t need any Slogmails – just go to Favourites….I write something pretty well every day.

Also, you can get an RSS feed notification very easily.

And finally, I shall be using for all stuff to do with the site in future….so you can make private contact there – or of course, here if you wish.

You can go to AOL at any time, type in the website address, and get email notifications of every post very easily from there too – some 270 blessed souls do that already. And if you can bear to go to my Twitter address @nbyward , every post goes up there automatically too.

 All of which raises the question, who the f**k needs Google anyway these days? Except, of course, we all do….and the buggers know that. When I worked in advertising, I always told clients that any do-gooder pay-off line on the ads would smack of protesting too much. Google’s corporate strapline is ‘Do no Evil’. So now you know.

 Once again, my apologies….and thank you for your loyalty over the years.