Showing posts with label banks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label banks. Show all posts

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Banks and Credit

This article from February 1975, is well worth a study and is still pertinent to the circumstances leading up to the crisis of recent years. Although some of the references are dated they have been retained for historical purposes.


Economics:

THE USE-VALUE of loan capital, which is made available through the banking system, consists of producing profit, and this type of profit is described as interest. The rate of interest is arrived at by competition between lenders and borrowers, or by supply and demand; the lender of loan capital striving to obtain the highest rate of interest for the use of his capital, and the borrower seeking the lowest rate. There is no "natural" rate of interest, nor is there any limit to the rate that can be charged.

 In the German Weimar Republic during the period of great inflation after World War 1, the rate of interest was raised weekly in some cases to 200%. The "natural" rate theory has its basis in the repetitive form of dealings between merchants and industrialists in the negotiation of Bills of Exchange. A substantial part of the business of a bank consists in discounting (cashing) Bills of Exchange. They are, generally speaking, promises to pay between merchant and industrialist at 60-90 day intervals, or longer. These Bills usually represent goods in transit or in store, and for the facility of advancing cash immediately on the strength of the Bill, which guarantees the value of the goods nominated in the Bill, the banker will deduct or discount a fraction of the amount shown and
buy the Bill. If, for example, a Bill of Exchange was valued at £10,000, and the annual rate of interest was 10%, and the Bill was due in 90 days, the banker would deduct the sum of £250, i.e. 90 days' interest, and advance the sum of £9,750. When the Bill was finally redeemed, the banker would then receive the sum of £10,000 - the full value of the Bill.

Rates of Interest

 Naturally the merchant and the industrialist (incidentally banking transactions as described above are not just confined to these two) would seek out the most favourable discount rates, and over a period of years the rate would tend to become adjusted at a regular rate. For many years between World Wars I and II the bank rate remained almost stable, around 2.5%-3%. The old bank rate was
based on this practice of discounting Bills, and gave rise to the theory of the "natural" rate of interest. Regarding the possibility of the banker getting the better of the merchant, industrialist etc., by successfully charging high discount rates; this would only result in a transfer of wealth between them. Were the British banks to consistently charge usurious rates, capitalists would endeavor to have their Bills discounted elsewhere, say New York or Paris.


 Since interest is part of industrial Profit, the maximum limit of interest is marked by profit itself.
The leaves can never be greater than the tree, or the part can never be greater than the whole. The high rate of interest today, i.e. 15%-16%, is distorted by inflation. The Chairman of Barclays Bank, Mr. A. Favil Tuke said:
"1t is worth recording that of the three parties who make up a bank, namely stockholders, staff and customers, none has gained much from these profits. Customers do not need to be told how much interest rates have risen in the last year or two; the increases in the salaries of our staff have been limited to about 7% per annum, and that of the stockholders dividend to 5% per annum; all
this at a time of inflation of some 10%, per annum." (Directors' Report to AGM, 1974).


 Obviously the depreciation of money is taken into account when fixing a rate of interest, and this is basic to the preservation of the value of the loan capital. On the other hand any prolonged fall, resulting in a total loss of interest, as well as an erosion of the value of the money capital, would eventually remove loan capital from the money market. This would, sooner or later, have repercussions in the productive process, as industrialists and other capitalists would find difficulty in raising capital for certain projects. As capitalism's wealth develops there is a tendency for the owner of inherited wealth to live on the annual interest without actively participating in the productive process. The same attitude is adopted by retired capitalists who want to take things easy,instead presumably of just taking them - as in their youth. Loan capital arises mainly from these sources.

 Were there no profit in loaning capital, that capital would be hoarded until such times as things improved. The owners of such capital would not retain it in the form of paper currency at the mercy of inflation, which has the effect of gradually reducing the wealth of the banker and the landlord, as well as literally confiscating such savings as are owned by workers. They would hold their hoard
either in gold, works of art, land, buildings, or any other desirable commodity which retained its value. No profits would accrue from assets held in this way, but on the other hand, there would be no losses either. However, if this happened on any scale there would be industrial dislocation.

Lenders & Borrowers

 The function of banks is firstly to make recurring payments on behalf of their customers; meeting mortgage payment rates, quarterly bills, and regular annual orders. These are payments which are entirely concerned with the circulation of commodities. But their second and most important function is to provide credit or capital for industry, commerce, property, etc. This is not provided out of the resources of the bank, as can be seen by the statement of the London Clearing Banks.
Total advances were £16.7 thousand millions (Quarterly analysis of Bank advances; Bank of England, 20th November 1974), whereas the total capital of these banks was £658 millions as at December 1973 (Annual Reports, 1973).
 Generally speaking, bank overdraft limits are reviewed every year, and bank borrowing is mainly short-term; up to 3 years in the main. Long-term loans are usually handled by the merchant banks who charge a higher rate of interest for this facility. The credit system which owes its development to the specialized function of the bank has proved to be a significant force in the centralization of
capital. Gathering as they do all the disposable money which is spread throughout society, they channel it into the hands of groups of capitalists, who turn it into capital. The accumulation of capital is speeded up, and with it the productiveness of labour, as more and more machinery is introduced into the productive process.

 Credit, and the credit system, have given rise to many misconceptions about the power of banks to create credit. Firstly, credit, whatever its form, whether in money or goods, consists in a transfer from one person to another.

"Credit, in its simplest expression, is the well or ill founded confidence which induces one man to extend to another a certain amount of capital, in money or in commodities, estimated at a certain value, which amount is always payable after the lapse of a definite time." (Tooke. Capital, Vol. III.Kerr edn., p. 471).


 Elements of social wealth, and the conditions under which the transfer takes place, or the trustworthiness of either of the parties to the transaction, need not concern us. An owner of goods may be separated by an interval of time from realizing the value of these goods in money. Certain articles take a longer time to produce than others, and others longer to market. The production of certain commodities, mainly agricultural products, depends on certain seasons of the year.

  Inevitably the owner of the commodities will borrow money on them, or sell his right to them for money on the spot, or the written promise of money. This is putting it at its simplest - the goods providing the security for the loan. In any case, goods are exchanged or secured against a sum of money which is due to be repaid at a given date in the future. Payment in advance of delivery, or
delivery in advance of payment, represent the two sides of simple credit. It is to be assumed that the credit seeker has a reputation for solvency, and that fraud is not the purpose. Credit advances in this way merely facilitate the circulation of com-modities by getting them to the market quicker.


Weakest to the Wall


 The second and most important function of the banker is to provide money for industry, which is capital. This has a separate function from money as the medium of circulation. The function ofcapital is not merely the circulation of commodities but their production in the first instance.


 Therefore, money used as capital is withdrawn from circulation because the wealth which it represents has been locked up in the process of production. The credit system of advancing capital allows individuals to use capital which is not theirs, and has opened the door to all sorts of swindles and reckless speculation. Who would not gamble with other people's money?


 If banks could create credit with the stroke of a pen, that would mean in effect they could create wealth, and consequently the Marxist Theory of Value would be shown to be wrong. However, as time passes the validity of the Labour Theory of Value, i.e. that wealth can only come into existence when men apply their energies to nature, is all too apparent. If banks could create credit, they would never be in financial difficulties, nor would they go bankrupt. As we have seen in recent years, a number of bank failures are taking place. The Ideal Savings Bank, and the Bank of the Lebanon, for example. More recently, the Herstatt Bank of Germany, and the Sindona group of Banks in Italy; the Israel British Bank (London) with deficits of over £40 millions. Many of the 40 or so fringe banks are in dire trouble, and some have gone into liquidation, including Mr. Jeremy Thorpe's London & Counties Bank. (His insight into the political future has not helped him in his banking adventures.) Many of these failed banks had the dubious benefit of advice from economic and political experts forecasting the future of capitalism. Once again they have come unstuck, and
we can say with certainty that more banks will fail as the competition increases - the large fish will gobble up the little ones.

Credit Creation a Myth

 In these circumstances, why did these banks not create a bit of credit for themselves and literally pull themselves up with their own shoelaces? The answer is all too obvious. The credit of the banker is provided only by his depositors. This is real money. It matters not whether the bank transfers depositors' credit to a bad risk or a dud enterprise - he is liable for its return. At the present time, the pro-perty market has turned out to be a bad financial risk, and the little fish are in trouble having lent long to property speculators, and borrowed short from their bigger brothers. The alleged "rescue" operations organized by the Bank of England are nothing other than the lambs being eaten
up by the wolves. The smaller fry of the financial and banking world are no more immune from the centralization of capital than the small car firms, garages, shopkeepers, etc. In the last four years the Big Five Banks, Westminster, Barclay's, National Provincial, Lloyd's and Midland, have become the Bigger Four. A number of Scottish banks have been taken over by the Big Four - the Bank of Scotland for example is now under the control of Barclay's, whilst the Clydesdale Bank is controlled by Midland; National Westminster controls Coutts & Co., also the Ulster Bank Ltd. Lloyd's control the Bank of London and South America, the National Bank of New Zealand and many others.


 If these small satellites wanted to remain independent all they need have done was to create credit by increasing their capital by a stroke of the pen. Such fictitious capital would no doubt pay a fictitious dividend, and create a series of fictitious deposits. Unfortunately, however, the original depositors who have loaned real money have no sense of fiction - even the science fiction of the
economic experts - and would require repayment in very realistic banknotes.


 The bank profits for 1973, the last accounting year of the London Clearing Banks and subsidiaries, do not bear out the miraculous power of credit creation. Although this was a bumper year the total profits, after tax, were £335.7 millions (Annual Statement for 1973). This is a large profit, but it is only a small portion of the total industrial profit.


Inflation Fraud

 The one institution which appears to create credit is the State, operating through the Bank of England. This is an act of deliberate political policy, the reasons for which will be given in aseparate article. The Government, in a variety of ways, instructs the Bank of England to print an excess of paper currency, which the Government uses to finance its own schemes, and without
having to introduce tax legislation to deal with particular cases. This inflation of the currency does not, nor cannot, add to existing wealth. What is really happening is that, far from creating credit, the Government is confiscating other people's. This has the same effect as a general increase in taxation. The constant dilution of the purchasing power of money by inflation raises prices and
dislocates production and distribution. This is public fraud posing as public credit.

  Capitalism is a system of production and distribution with many contradictions, and inflation adds yet another. Whatever strategy is worked out by economic planners and monetary specialists will make no difference. Capitalism will run according to its own laws, and they can only run after it.

After all - who ever heard of an expert on anarchy?

J.D

Socialist Standard February 1975

Friday, August 02, 2013

Banking on ethics?

If you think the preceding post calls for a better type of bank and believe the Co-operative Bank, alas, you are mistaken. The difference is simply in the degree not the essence. The Co-operative Bank is a relatively small and “conservatively” run bank that has promoted its ethical business practices.

Former Co-op Bank chief executive Neville Richardson’s left the bank in 2011 with a package worth £4.6 million, including a £1.4 million payment for ‘loss of office’, and the same amount as ‘compensation’ for leaving. The banks financial downgrade to “junk” status by Moody was mainly based on the deterioration in the performance of the loan portfolios the Co-op Bank acquired with its takeover of the Britannia Building Society in 2009 when Richardson was chief executive of the Britannia at the time of the deal.  Like any other business,it has to beat the competition, make profits and accumulate capital. Large institutions like local councils have a fiduciary responsibility to not leave taxpayers’ money in a bank where there are any questions about its solvency.

It looks as if the Coop Bank's difficulty has arisen from "loan repayments" being less than expected, i.e some of their loans not being repaid in full or on time. I would think that there are many businesses and people who would love to have a loan from the Coop Bank. The trouble seems to be that it is having to use the funds it has to increase its capital rather than to make loans. The Co-operative Bank unveiled a rescue plan to tackle the £1.5bn hole in its balance sheet. Most of the capital to be used to plug the hole will come through a "bail in" - a process where bond holders will be offered shares in the bank.

The deal will result in a stock market listing for the group. Many will argue that the culture and practices of the bank are bound to change once its shares are owned by commercial investors. In general, the bank will be more focussed on making profits because of the "need to generate an appropriate return on equity". The bank has always focused on making a profit, that's what co-ops do: it's just a question of who gets the profit. The capital is in the hands of the capitalists, and the bank needs capital to keep going.

An estimated 15,000 retail investors, many of them pensioners, who hold Co-op bank PIBS (permanent interest bearing shares) and preference shares stand to lose at least 40% of their investment plus a large chunk of their income if the plans proposed by the mutual parent, Co-op Group, go ahead. Dividends on the PIBS and preference shares have already been suspended, leaving thousands desperate to know how they will survive. Many are dependent on this income which ranged from around 5% to as high as 13% a year, to supplement their pensions. Until now, PIBS have been regarded as relatively safe – nothing like as risky as shares. As capital issues emerged at the Co-op, the price of its bonds began to fall sharply, hitting the small investors. The PIBS now trade at 60p compared to their face value of 100p and the 160p they were at their peak.

Ethical concerns do not come before business.




Sunday, February 03, 2013

Capital's apologists

Blair Jenkins, chief executive of the Yes Scotland campaign, claimed that Scotland “might very well not have had a financial crisis” if it had been an independent country. This is a ridiculous claim. Some commentators have argued that, if Scotland had been independent, the banks would have been better regulated. The Scottish equivalent of the FSA would have stopped them from pursuing self-destructive courses, barred them from ballooning their balance sheets with dodgy loans and toxic assets, and insisted on higher capital ratios. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that it would have been any different.

The idea that Scotland’s banks – RBS and HBOS, whose combined assets were 21 times Scotland’s gross domestic product at the time of their near collapse (for the sake of comparison, Irish banks’ assets were 4.4 times Irish GDP at point of their October 2008 collapse, and Icelandic banks‘ assets were 9.8 times times Icelandic GDP) – would have been better-regulated if Scotland had been independent is wide of the mark. It is preposterous to suggest the liabilities of a bank are liabilities of the population of the country where the head office of that bank is located. It cost the UK £70bn to recapitalise the Scottish banks. 

Alex Salmond thought the UK authorities and the FSA in particular, were being too tough on the banks in 2007. He felt Scotland would be better off with ‘lighter touch’ regulation. “We are pledging a light-touch regulation suitable to a Scottish financial sector with its outstanding reputation for probity, as opposed to one like that in the UK, which absorbs huge amounts of management time in ‘gold-plated’ regulation." he said in an interview with the Times on April 7th, 2007. Salmond wrote to Fred Goodwin when the latter was RBS chief executive, in May 2007 wishing Goodwin ‘good luck’ with his attempted €72 billion takeover of the Dutch Bank ABN Amro adding ‘it is in the Scottish interests for RBS to be successful’. The takeover is now recognised as one of the most disastrous in corporate history and contributed to the massive losses which caused RBS to fail and require a £45.5bn government funded bailout.

On March 31, 2008 when it was already clear to many investors and analysts that RBS and HBOS had massive holes in their balance sheets and were struggling to fund themselves, Salmond insisted that, with RBS and HBOS, “Scotland has global leaders today, tomorrow and for the long-term” in a speech given to Harvard University selling Scotland as another Celtic Tiger (but a Lion) economy like Ireland. On August 7th, 2008, the day it announced massive first-half losses of £692m, and a few weeks after it had had to tap investors for £12bn to patch up its balance sheet, Salmond told The Times that RBS was “one of the highest-performing financial institutions in the world” which would soon “overcome current challenges to become both highly profitable and highly successful once again”. On September 17th, 2008, Salmond describes the banks as "well capitalised, properly funded financial institutions" ignoring the fundamental problems and the bankers' irresponsibility.

So if the referendum bring change - little will change. Scottish politicians and Scottish parliament will continue to be the servants of capital. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Banking on charity? Don't !

Charities lost a protracted battle against the banks.

The trustees savings banks which operated prior to 1986 had a tradition of charitable giving. When TSB Group plc was floated in that year there were established several charitable foundations. The Deed of Covenant dated 10 September 1986 by which TSB Group plc ("the Company") bound and obliged itself at quarterly terms to pay to the reclaimer the greater of "(a) the amount equal to one quarter of one third of 0.1946 per cent of the pre-tax profits (after deducting pre-tax losses) ... or (b) the sum of £9,730".

Following the banking crisis of 2009 and the takeover of Halifax Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group tried to change the terms of its relationship with the foundation. It wanted to half its donation and put its own staff on the foundation’s board. The following high-profile dispute resulted in the bank and foundation formally breaking their links, which will come into effect after nine years notice.

The foundation should have received £3,543,433 but the bank interpreted the small-print of accountacy rules to mean they were required to only pay £38,920 and has had this upheld by the Supreme Court.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bank Nationalisation

It is no co-incidence that the cries for banking reform invariably comes during economic depressions. The lubrication that keeps the capitalist machine running – the money markets – are dysfunctional.

As Marx identified “So long as things go well, competition effects an operating fraternity of the capitalist class…so that each shares in the common loot in proportion to the size of his respective investment. But as soon as it is no longer a question of sharing profits, but of sharing losses, everyone tries to reduce his own share to a minimum and to shove it off upon another. The class, as such, must inevitably lose. How much the individual capitalist must bear of the loss, ie, to what extent he must share in it at all, is decided by strength and cunning, and competition then becomes a fight among hostile brothers. The antagonism between each individual capitalist’s interests and those of the capitalist class as a whole, then comes to the surface…”

 Marx also pointed out that “the moneyed interest enriches itself at the cost of the industrial interest in the course of a crisis” Bankers are enriching themselves at the expense of industry and workers, in other words. So whats new?

The economist David Harvey has explained that the losses of the crisis are finally distributed between factions of the capitalist class, and between the working and capitalist classes, and whatever the power struggle that ensues, the necessary result will be the destruction of value (closure of workplaces, the laying off of workers, destruction of surpluses, defaulting on debt, cutting of state services, and so on) so that a new round of capitalist accumulation can begin. The sad but inevitable reality of capitalism.

Some in America seek a solution in the likes of the State Bank of North Dakota. That the bank owned by state authorities weathered the recession was perhaps more a reflection that the state’s economy is primarily based on agriculture and oil, both involved in current boom times. Nor was the state particularly exposed to the sub-prime disaster “North Dakota really didn’t participate in subprime to a significant degree. I mean, that was–you know, it was sort of a flyover state. All of the aggressive subprime lenders apparently didn’t think there were enough folks in farms that they could get to lever up to take on these dodgy loans.” explained  Yves Smith. author of the book ECONned and creator of the website NakedCapitalism.com

In Scotland, we have the almost unique bank success story of the Airdrie Savings Bank, the UK's last remaining independent savings bank  The bank was founded in 1835 and was born out of the general "thrift" movement prevalent at the time.

 Bucking the trend of the credit crunch, Airdrie Savings Bank has increased its lending for the third year in a row, according to its latest annual results, it lent a record £48.5m - a 35% increase on 2010.  It lent 24% more in 2010 than it did in 2009. Yet we still witness that “North Lanarkshire has been particularly rocked by the recession, including above-average redundancies, because the economy is not as diverse as some and there remains a heavy reliance on sectors that seem more susceptible to economic shocks” as one report describes. Not much of a success story.

What socialists say about the banks is not regulate them, nor nationalise them, but make them redundant. Abolish them, along with all the rest of the complicated, financial superstructure of the capitalist production-for-profit economy. The mythology surrounding the power of banking helps those who take the view that this vast institution is so necessary that the prospect of a world without money would be unthinkable. Let’s abolish capitalism and live in a moneyless, propertyless world without banks. That means moving from a demand for ‘regulation change’ to one for ‘system change’. Perceived wisdom is that it should be easier to make socialists in a recession when the shortcomings of capitalism are more evident. This capitalist recession will eventually end and the economy at some time in the future will inevitably return to growth. If there are more socialists at that future time, then at least one positive outcome will have resulted from this sorry and preventable mess.

“…no kind of bank legislation can eliminate a crisis” Marx


Monday, February 27, 2012

The World Bank

Glasgow branch is at present conducting a series of meetings on British banking so it maybe useful to add an international dimension.

The World Bank was established in 1944 to promote economic development and virtually every country is now a member. This spring the bank's 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends in July.

Until now, the unwritten rule has been that the US government simply designates each new president: all 11 have been Americans, and not one has been an expert in economic development, the bank's core responsibility, or had a career in fighting poverty or promoting environmental sustainability. Instead, the US has selected Wall Street bankers and politicians, presumably to ensure that the bank's policies are suitably friendly to US interests. US officials have traditionally viewed the World Bank as an extension of US foreign policy and commercial interests. With the bank just two blocks away from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, it has been all too easy for the US to dominate the institution.

For too long, its leadership has imposed US concepts that are often utterly inappropriate for the poorest countries and their poorest people. It completely fumbled the exploding pandemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria during the 1990's, failing to get help to where it was needed to save millions of lives. Even worse, the bank advocated user fees and "cost recovery" for health services, thereby putting life-saving health care beyond the reach of the poorest of the poor - precisely those most in need of it. In 2000, at the Durban AIDS Summit, [it was] recommended a new "Global Fund" to fight these diseases, precisely on the grounds that the World Bank was not doing its job. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria emerged, and has since saved millions of lives, with malaria deaths in Africa alone falling by at least 30 per cent.

http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/industry-insights/economics/resource-wars-and-other-crises-await-if-global-cooperation-fails

Thursday, September 29, 2011

pay-cut for bank staff

Scottish employees of Clydesdale Bank face a large cut in take-home pay after the Glasgow-based institution said it will ask them to put 9% of their salary into its previously non-contributory pension scheme. Clydesdale will phase in contributions, starting at 3% of salary in 2012 and going up to 9% by 2014

“In common with many other organisations, it has been affected by reduced investment returns as a result of the downturn, the expectation of lower returns in future as well as improvements in life expectancy rates generally.” a spokesman for the bank said

Those who do not want to contribute will be offered a lower benefit based on 1/80 of salary rather than 1/60 for those who put in money. The bank has also cut the annual increases for benefits accrued after April 2012, switching to the lower Consumer Prices Index rather than the Retail Prices Index. This measure will be capped at 5%.

And for the bank executives? Unite union said the people being hit by the latest "substantial" changes "are not wealthy bankers, but frontline banking staff who serve customers in call centres and bank branches". Unite's national officer David Fleming said the move would "trigger hardship for employees" and was a "real blow". He said it was wrong "to introduce changes that will require staff at National Australia Bank to ultimately make a 9 per cent contribution, over three years, when household budgets are already extremely stretched."







Sunday, July 11, 2010

Banking crisis - who pays the price ?

“I get up in the morning crying and go to bed crying.You go in to work and you hope you won’t tear up. But somebody does, nearly every day.” The problem? Fear, says Jane. “We are all scared. We are all afraid of getting paid off. Maybe because of the way the building is, the fear just seems to move across the room. But they are disciplining us for everything, including clerical errors and timekeeping.” The building is open-plan. “When someone cracks up, we all see it,” she explains. “You’ll hear the sobbing and see her pals huddle around her." Middle managers, she keeps stressing, are just as scared as their employees.

Jim McCourt, who runs the Inverclyde Advice and Employment Rights Centre, says he has seen a lot of stressed-out RBS workers since 2008. "I have been doing this job for 15 years and I have never seen any company that is so unnecessarily brutal.”

From the Herald

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Its always the poor who pay

The poorest people in Scotland are being penalised by unfair overdraft charges, according to a report by Citizens Advice Scotland.

It said the banks' poorest customers were subsidising the richest by paying a higher part of their income in fees. Despite talk about being more responsible, banks were still imposing heavy charges on vulnerable people.

Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Susan McPhee said "...the people who are worst hit by these charges are those who can least afford to pay them.Indeed these charges mean that the poor are actually subsidising the rich, like a reverse Robin Hood effect."

One pensioner was charged £66 for going overdrawn by 60p.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Smoke and Mirrors

One of the striking fetures of this crisis is the seeking out of scapegoats . And for the government the culprits are those bonus-greedy bankers . Simplistic explanations of the inherent instability of capitalism . A simple search of this blog will reveal that Socialist Courier has been exposing those overpaid bankers long before this crisis appeared , something Brown and Darling were at the time turning a convenient blind eye to. ( note though , Socialist Courier doesn't take credit for predicting the crash ) . So bonuses are to end but what else - very little .

As always the people who will be paying the real price of this slump , is not the rich but it will be the working class - once more .

The Scotsman reports
HOMES were repossessed at the rate of 110 a day last year – but experts warn the figure could double this year as the recession puts hundreds of thousands of homeowners at risk of defaulting on their mortgages.Figures released yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) revealed that 40,000 homes across the UK were seized in 2008, a 12-year high, and up 54 per cent on the previous year's 25,900.The CML does not provide separate repossession figures for Scotland, but housing charity Shelter Scotland estimated they could reach 7,000 by the end of 2009. By the end of 2008, 182,600 of the UK's 11.7 million mortgages were in arrears of more than three months.
One expert accused the group of being "too conservative" and said repossessions were likely to peak at 82,000 homes, or 225 a day.
Brown vowed to "do everything we can to stop repossessions" but the government was accused of "giving false hope" to people at risk after it emerged that a rescue scheme announced in December will not come into effect until April.

SC await a news item of just one bank executive losing his/her house in Barnton or whatever rich peoples enclave they and seeking the help of Shelter or the council housing department .

Also data from the Ministry of Justice showed that nearly 56,000 people applied to become bankrupt through the courts last year, up from about 53,000 in 2007 and the highest number since comparable records began in 1995.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Hypocrisy by the banks

I read that David Lloyd, 62, was told he had terminal lung cancer in January 2006, his wife, Annette Edwards, contacted their bank, the Halifax, to let them know of his predicament and that he would no longer be able to work. They applied for a payout on an insurance policy, and for state benefits, but while they waited for the money to arrive they went overdrawn.
The bank and its agents telephoned the couple 762 times over seven months in what they say is aggressive pursuit of the debt . Their daughter, Stefanie Moore, 29, received 60 to 100 phone calls and two text messages .

The couple feel dehumanised .

Yes that what capitalism does to people . Socialist Courier wonders if the banks now in debt , begging for government bail-outs will ever be treated in such a shameles and heartless manner to demand repayment

Monday, November 10, 2008

One law for them , another law for us

So much for government assurances of sympathetic treatment for mortagage arrears by the banks during this credit crunch and slump.

The Financial Times reports a landmark High Court ruling under a 1925 law has paved the way for mortgage lenders to sell the homes of borrowers in arrears without seeking a court order after just TWO mortgage payments have failed .

The judgment dismissed the human rights defence of the homeowners in arrears and backed the right of GMAC-RFC, a specialist subprime and buy-to-let lender that is part-owned by General Motors, to appoint receivers and auction the property. The former homeowners were then evicted for trespassing by the new owner, Horsham Properties. The sale circumvented the court process through which judges can give struggling borrowers more time to arrange repayments .

John Gallagher, principal solicitor with Shelter, the housing charity, said the case “gives the green light” for lenders to sidestep courts with legal remedies “rooted in the 19th century and repugnant to most people’s sense of justice”.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Alright for some , eh ?

Amanda Staveley , former girlfriend of Prince Andrew , is set to bag almost £40million in commission paid to her advisory firm, PCP Capital Partners, for brokering last week's £3.5billion capital injection into Barclays Bank by Middle East investors , according to The Independent.

PCP Capital Partners, which Ms Staveley founded in 2005, acted for Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nah-yan, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, to deliver his £3.5bn personal investment into Barclays in return for a 16 per cent shareholding of the bank.
As part of the overall £7.3bn investment Barclays unveiled on Friday, the bank is also raising up to £2bn from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund and £300m from a member of Qatar's royal family.
PCP's total commission will be £110m, but after other advisers are paid Ms Staveley's firm will earn a £40m profit. While PCP also has a handful of other partners including David Mellor, the former Tory MP, Ms Staveley is expected to pocket the majority of the £40m.

Ms Staveley also previously brokered the takeover of Manchester City football club in August by the same sheikh, Mr Mansour, who is investing in Barclays.

Ms Staveley first started to make her mark with the sheikhs and the Arabian Gulf's kingpins when she set up a restaurant in Cambridge-shire after persuading her bank manager to lend her £180,000. Crucially, she set up her Stocks eatery close to the British horseracing hub of Newmarket.The patrons of the restaurant, where Ms Staveley would work while also dabbling in her alternative career of dealing in shares worth thousands of pounds, included senior staff from the Godolphin stables owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the most powerful racehorse owner on the planet.
This is where the seeds of her association with the Middle East's wealthiest figures were sown.

Not what you know but who you know , it appears

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Crunch of the Matter

From one of our comrade fellow bloggers

Quoth Alistair Darling:
"The Financial Services Authority has announced a further increase from tomorrow to the compensation limit for retail bank deposits to £50,000 per depositor, which means £100,000 for joint accounts. That measure will ensure that 98 per cent. of accounts are fully covered."

Now, quoth Iain Duncan Smith:
"At the Dispatch Box, the Chancellor mentioned, quite rightly, that our protection covers about 98 per cent. of all depositors, but he will also recognise that we have significantly more money on deposit than Germany does. The reality is that that 2 per cent. represents a very significant amount of money. What concerns me right now is that, given the febrile nature of the markets—watching little things and then panicking—if they see any flight of capital, even that 2 per cent., towards Germany, it could cause another stampede and another crisis. I recognise the Chancellor's problem about indicating what he may or may not do, but does he not recognise that that 2 per cent. alone is perhaps enough to tip over the markets if they saw a flight of that money to, say, Germany or even Ireland?"

So, what they are saying is that the vast majority of accounts in the UK hold less than £50,000 (£100,000 for joint accounts) in retail banks.What they are saying is that there is an incredible disparity of wealth - but that the very wealthy have the capacity to cause crises by the overwelming might of their money.

Let's be clear, what this means. Economic crises are not natural phenomena, they are the results of the owners of society exerting their influence. They are profoundly political - the wealthy making us dance to their tune. The wealthy on strike.
Capitalism causes a crisis by its very existence, starvation, starvation related diseases, gross poverty, curtailled life-spans, wars - they are all ignored as background noise.
When the capitalists feel the pain, then we are all made to jump.
This isn't a case of being for or against bail-outs - after all, who can blame the man with a gun to his head - but a matter of being for or against capitalism.

Our only demand must be: "End class society!" else this will all happen again. It is not a glitch, it is politics, the political decision of the real voters to vote with their feet.

From our discussion forum
Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton has an interesting article in the current New Statesman:http://tinyurl.com/4h4ss8
"The problem lies deeper. Most Americans can no longer maintain their standard of living. Remember, Wall Street's near-meltdown originated with the bursting of the great housing bubble. That bubble had allowed millions of Americans to take money out of their homes byusing their rising home values as collateral for loans. But now the bubble has burst, those homes can no longer be used as piggy banks.…The bubble masked this basic reality: for most Americans, earnings have not kept up with the cost of living. The earnings of non-government workers who are paid by the hour - and who comprise 80 percent of the American workforce - are lower today than they were in 2000, adjusted for inflation. They are barely higher than they were in the mid-1970s"

This fact is so undeniable, that even the `CIA world fact book' (a US foreign policy reference guide - http://tinyurl.com/33l9f8) describes the situation in the US as:
"The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development ofa "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack theeducation and the professional/technical skills of those at the topand, more and more, fail to getcomparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits.Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have goneto the top 20% of households."

Now, for Reich this becomes a basic under consumptionist theory –that Labour was unable to buy back its produce. In simpler terms, it shows the basic failure of the sub-prime lending model. Lending to labour when wages aren't rising meant the whole of that lending relied on continually rising house prices, as soon as the rise stopped, the pyramid scheme failed.I think the most significant part of this crisis is that it shows how capitalism cannot meet workers' needs. All the talk of irresponsible lending masks the fact that in order to get and keep a roof over their heads, workers resorted to massive quantities of debt... this is where our focus should lie.
Obviously, upping wages would not simply end the problem, because cash strapped firms would be unable to pay them. But I think thisdoes confirm a class centric view that a weak working class is actually bad for capitalism – certainly, for advanced markets. I once read that the US industrialised so rapidly due to the small sizeof its skilled working class – this compelled industrialists toinnovate and improve the intensive exploitation of capital. The converse is true if skilled Labour is plentiful.More pertinently, if productivity has been rising without wage rises to compensate, this too could affect the quantity of money capital kicking around, hence feeding the stock market/banking bubbles...As I say on my blog today, the crisis is nakedly political - what weare calling a crisis is tantamount to strike action by the owners of the world, as they try to protect their investments and their income.I think we need to avoid giving the impression that it is a mechanistic problem, rather than the result of conscious human action in an unequal society...[An] interesting factoid from Alistair Darling's statement yesterday, by guaranteeing accounts up to £50K (£100K in joint accounts) they are guaranteeing 98% of deposits. That's a gross amount of inequality,because the remaining 2% contain collosal amounts of cash, sufficient to cause bank runs by their chasing security and returns.

That 98 per cent of deposits contain less than £50,000 but of the 2 per cent that were above this, they accounted for about half of the total amount desposited. In other words, the top two per cent have as much on deposit as the other 98 per cent put together, yet another confirmation of the Party's case over the years.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The reward for failure

We read Northern Rock's former boss Adam Applegarth received a £750,000 pay-off when he left last December. Applegarth, who is 46, is also entitled to draw on a pension pot of £2.5m at the age of 55 . Experts say that could bring him retirement benefits of up to £200,000 a year.

As we all have read Northern Rock collapsed and bad management was a factor in this bank's demise . So is this a capitalism's reward for failure ?

Many of us facing attacks on our final salary pension schemes will also be wondering why we have to work longer for less while the rich can dip into a retirement pot of gold .

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Credit Crunch - Not for everyone , it seems

Bob Diamond, the US banker who runs Barclays' investment banking arm, has cemented his position as one of the highest paid bosses in a FTSE 100 company after receiving almost £36m last year. The figure comprises £21m in cash, bonuses and shares in addition to £14.8m from a three-year performance plan. The £21m includes his £250,000 base salary, £6.5m cash bonus, a £11.3m share award held in a trust for three years and £3m of shares which will be received in three years provided performance criteria are achieved. His total is boosted by the £14.8m "retained incentive opportunity" - half in cash, half in shares - put in place three years ago when he joined the Barclays board.

Diamond achieved the bonus even though Barclays took a £1.6bn hit from the sub-prime crisis in the US and despite ongoing financial woes which have seen billions wiped off share values worldwide. The bank's profits in 2007 were £7bn, the same as 2006, and its share price has suffered.

The report published yesterday also exposed the pay to bankers working on takeovers. Barclays paid one former director £600,000 a month during the bank's ill-fated bid for Dutch rival ABN Amro. Naguib Kheraj received the sum, plus £14,178 a month in benefits, from May to December 2007 for a "corporate finance advisory role". The £4.9m he received was in addition to the £657,000 he was paid to the end of April while he helped his successor settle in.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Privatise Profits - Socialise Losses

BANK OF England governor Mervyn King used his now-famous meeting with the chief executives of the "big five" UK banks last Thursday to admonish them for increasing shareholder dividends.

On February 27, HBOS hiked its dividend by 18% to 48.9p meaning the bank offers a yield of 6.9%. It also lowered the targets under which directors would receive payouts on its executive incentive schemes. Previously directors only received bonuses under the scheme should the bank's shares outperform a basket of UK banks by 3%. Under the new rules, HBOS only needs to be 1.5% above rivals to trigger pay-outs.

Colin McLean, chief executive of SVM Asset Management said: "It just seems wrong that bankers are looking for support and essentially public money at a time when both dividends and executive pay are not only high but have also just been raised."

As we previously reported annual reports from RBS and HBOS show that Sir Fred Goodwin's remuneration totalled £4.19 million in 2007. Hornby's package climbed 22.5% to £1.93 million.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No Silver Lining

Does every cloud have a silver lining ? Will falling house prices help those to get the first time buyers on the rung of the property ladder ? Apparently not .

Homeowners and those hoping to step onto the property ladder have both been dealt a blow after a senior Bank of England policymaker warned that house prices will fall but the impact of the credit crunch means affordability won't improve.

The global economic environment has become tougher, forcing lenders to become more cautious about extending mortgages to borrowers . First-time buyers in particular are being forced to accumulate bigger desposits, making it more difficult for them to benefit from a long-anticipated drop in house prices.

"We may see prices fall this year, but because of credit conditions, affordability will probably not improve at all," Miss Barker said. She added: "Finding deposits has become more difficult because of the credit crunch..."

British banks have raised the cost of borrowing for homebuyers with the smallest deposits to a seven-year high and have declined to pass on two Bank of England interest rate cuts. Central bank figures show that the average rate offered by lenders on loans for 95 per cent of the price of a property, fixed for two years, is 6.55 per cent - the highest since September 2000. In January, mortgage approvals were close to the lowest in nine years.
The UK housing market has slumped to the worst since the eve of the nation's last recession in 1990, a survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors showed last month.
Too few homes are being built to meet Britain's housing needs, and that the number of new houses built would probably fall this year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bankers still rake it in

Fred Goodwin regained his place as the highest-paid executive at Royal Bank of Scotland last year after taking home £4.2 million. Goodwin's pay package was up 5% from 2006 with a basic salary of £1.3m and a performance bonus of £2.9m. He also earned extra pension rights worth £772,000 in the course of the year and netted a paper profit of £1.2m after exercising cut-price options on nearly 500,000 shares under a performance scheme. Goodwin's pay package made him the best-paid of Royal Bank's executives. It could have been higher but he missed out on 286,579 shares that could have been awarded under a medium-term performance plan from 2005 as the company failed to meet targets.

Mike Fisher, who has gone to manage Royal Bank's portion of the ABN Amro business took home £2.4m in pay and bonuses, up 24% on 2006. Finance director Guy Whittaker who benefited last year from major pay-outs to compensate him for his move from Citigroup in 2006. In 2007, he received £3.35m in pay. Larry Fish, who ran the bank's US subsidiary Citizens Financial, also fell back in the pay stakes. He netted £6.6m in 2006 but in 20007 had to make do with around £2m in pay and bonuses.

In these times of financial troubles and credit crunch , isn't it good to see how those bankers are suffering hardship and sharing the woes with all us who are facing increased debt and higher bills .

For a socialist analysis of the present American capitialist crisis see Bubble Trouble