We all need cheering up, so I thought I’d start today with a bit of a laugh:
“Right, pay attention everyone. We’ve been rumbled again and it’s a fair cop so our task now is to spend billions we don’t have any more on finding out how we, that is, er, I mean someone, managed to fiddled the Forex exchange for years without any of us noticing that we were doing it. So I propose we follow the Newscorp strategy of issuing endless press releases about cooperating fully with the authorities, and then having several attacks of dementia.”.
The FT article goes on to say that the banks face ‘multibillion dollar bills for fines and civil litigation’…but not jail for premeditated criminal fraud. There will be more setting aside, more CEO changes, and more press conferences saying how the main task now ‘going forward’ will be to regain the customer’s trust, and not look back. Then some bright young things in the back office that nobody’s looking at can start working on the next scam.
Look, let’s face it: everyone with whom we find it difficult to negotiate in this world is trying very hard to meet us halfway. Why only last week, when Baroness Aston and a female Beeb reporter went to meet the Iranian representative, he refused to to shake their hands – because they were women – presumably because they had shown disrespect by not looking at him through a slit in a machine-gun nest. But the Representative did smile, as did the ladies. Had they been wearing a veil, of course, he would’ve missed that smile. I can’t imagine such a thing would worry the Iranian leadership over-much. But he did smile, and when in Rome one should do as the Romans do…so it was a good call for the girlies to dress up as if they were attending a cold September Garden Party.
If you’re a Muslim of course, you wear what you always do, and demand a fatwah if anyone suggests otherwise. This is the way in Britain these days: the neolib headcases reduce the average employee to less money and fewer hours, and the pc fluffies let about 10 million too many people in while observing all the multicultural niceties and whispering, “Don’t mention the Crusades”.
Baroness Ashton as you know is, in theory, the nearest thing the EU has to a Foreign Minister. So it’s good to see that in letting her lick a lot of people she doesn’t like all over, the EC is obviously another gang open to the idea of live-and-let-live style negotiating flexibility. Right from the start of the Greek crisis, for example, anyone with a scintilla of foresight in their left brain said “let the lenders take a haircut, forgive most of the debt, and then bring in much stricter central control of eurozone member budgets”.
Listening carefully to this advice, the EC gave us fantasy repayment schedules, the Troika, lost confidence in the Greek banking system, and economy-numbing austerity. So far, however, it’s really not looking too bad at all in terms of progress:As you can see from the above, the Troika’s target of 121% gdp to debt ratio by 2015 is looking a tad green about the gills. In percentile quotient terms, it’s 35% out….and getting worse. The plummeting gdp might have something to do with this, but the Troika is interested only in getting its money back.
Here you can discern that at least the Troikanauts have done exceptionally well. The Athens government bailed out its banks to the tune of 0.25 trillion euros, and in return for lending the Greeks 0.22 trillion euros, the lenders got 0.32 trillion back. Nice work if you can get it.
The only snag in this strategy is that Greece has shelled out well over half a trillion euros, and the only thing left standing is….the banking system. Both tax income and gdp have gone down the pan, youth unemployment is over 55%, the extreme Parties are gaining votes, and without more money by May 22nd, the Greeks will default anyway.
So it was good last year to see EC attitudes softening, with the promise to Antonis Samaras of debt relief by Christmas 2013. But once Angela Mirakle was back in power after the German election, the debt relief promise vanished.
Equally, the lender prong of the Troika has also shown great patience, by leaving Athens the minute their new ‘ideas’ about how to cut Government spending made Greek negotiators reach for their holsters.
That’s what sensible supra-national government, religion and banking should be about: compromise. The political class has compromised itself by caving in to the banks at very turn, the EC bureaucrats compromised themselves by bowing and scraping in Iran, and the Greek political class compromised itself forever in the eyes of the People by lying for the Troikanauts.