ANALYSIS: Why Credit is taking the Suisse, and Newscorp is taking a hit


We’re busy doing nothing, having a lovely time

I’ve just realised why no bankers ever go to jail, and if a bank goes op-lah, its never their fault. This is because the CEO wasn’t kept informed about what his evil underlings were doing, but the underlings were only obeying orders, your honour. And if only the regulators had left them all alone, it would’ve all been hunky-dory.

This seems to have been the case at Credit Suisse, where relative newboy Tidjane Thiam explained a quarter-billion write-off in Q1 2016 (and it isn’t even over yet) by saying he’d been ‘blindsided’ and this was unacceptable. That he was being paid $2m a year not to have that happen didn’t come up at the press conference; but that won’t have been his fault either, because apparently nobody else on the Board knew anything.

But the fact that they didn’t know was due to “a culture of make returns at all costs”, and of course they played no part at all in creating that culture, dear me no: it was the regulators who caused that: according to Bloomberg, ‘Thiam defended the bank’s credit and securitized products units that he said are viewed negatively as “ugly ducklings” because they require so much capital under new rules introduced since the financial crisis.’

I mean, how stupid of the regulators to demand better capital back up when banks are being perfectly well run by CEOs in the dark; fellow directors who don’t set the culture, and maverick traders who lie to their bosses? For goodness sake. Dan Hannan is right: things would be so much better without regulators.

If your life savings are being ‘invested’ for you in this Suisse Roll, I imagine you’ll be a gnats nervous this morning, but nihil desperandum squire, because in Q4 2015, Mr Thiam oversaw nearly half a billion in losses, so Q1 2016 represents a 100% improvement. However, having overseen it, the CEO overlooked it this week, showing just how modest this Leader of Men is.

But the history of banking has always been like this. When told that his bank HSBC had been laundering cocaine money on an industrial scale for years, Chairman and part-time Tube Station Baron Green said he knew nothing about it “because an international bank must always have Chinese Walls”. His Lordship was, you see, happy to take the munnneeee, but not the responsibility. Now he runs the BBC and UK overseas trade, by the way.

In 2008, Adam Applegarth the CEO of demutualised Northern Rock bank was piling on market share by offering higher savings rates than anyone else. He did it by buying money on the wholesale markets which were abnormally cheap at the time. When the rates went up, Northern Rock went down. “My advice was that rates would be low well into the future,” he said afterwards, “and in that context it was a perfectly viable business strategy”. Ah, so it was the advisers then. Please sir, not me sir.

A forensic accountant of my acquaintance told me three years ago that he could go into any bank at any time, high leverage or low, diversified or niche, and with a few exceptions (as in, three across the entire planet) he could guarantee going to the Board after a month or two and saying, “this xyz unit is a disaster waiting to happen”. The Board would nod politely, pay his fee promptly, and then carry on with Business as Usual.


But no bank in the world anywhere – with the possible exception of Monte dei Peische -can hold a light to the natural swerving movements of senior Newscorpse management when it comes to the money and power takeout and the responsibility plugin. So I’m sure all seekers after Truth everywhere will be delighted to hear that the Turdloch Tabloids have just reported a £253m loss, and nobody is to blame.

You see, the loss can all be put down to declining print sales in general across the market,  continuing fallout from the phone hacking unpleasantness, £50m paid in costs to victims of a now defunct News of the World, professional fees related to its Management and Standards Committee, the costs of cooperating fully with police officers, and of course the volatile national print advertising market. None of this was anyone’s fault.

It wasn’t the fault of the senile old dingo at the top, because as he showed in his phone hacking testimony, he can’t remember what species he is, and anyway he’s far too busy shagging a woman half his age and twice his height to be concerned with the day to day business of having people murdered and so forth. Anyway, why would a bitter old convict be so unwilling to share his journalists work that he’d put paywalls round them and thus make the situation worse? That would just be silly.

It was nothing to do with his sexually unclear son James, because he was otherwise engaged in paying large sums to FA officials, but his staff never told him why he was doing it, which was quite unacceptable. And it was definitely nothing to do with Rebekah Brooks, because she was found guilty of not having any emails left, and that is not a criminal offence. We know that a lot of the evil things were done by renegade Andy Coulson (who was shagging Ms Brooks at the time) but he left the Group years ago and served seven minutes in jail.

There are one or two rumours that Jimmy Savile might have had something to do with it, but he was very busy grooming a nation and shagging cadavers, so one suspects his role was probably negligible too. And wicked voices here and there mutter that Piers Morgan taught Ms Brooks how to hack into mobile phone messages, but Piers flatly denies ever doing that or playing tapes of Paul McCartney at Christmas parties. So it obviously wasn’t him either.

No, you only have to look at where the munnneeee went: on paying off the false testimony of so-called victims, lawyers’ fees, private detectives, police dinners, circulatory disease, accountants and feckless advertising agencies. It was all their fault.


Yesterday at The Slog: 600,000 Whitehall Fatties & an Osborne funeral