Friday, 29 June 2012

Corrupt capitalism: Fraudulent bankers are running amok!

Following recent posts, and on from my many previous posts about the immoral and corrupt practices of bankers, today we got yet more of a glimpse into the culture of investment (casino) banking and what they really get up to ... in their immoral pursuit of profit ...

... they are running amok, creating 'money out of nothing' ('electronic money') so they can gamble on rates, derivatives, assets and currencies etc ... and they are also fraudulently ensuring the 'casino wheels' are 'rigged' in their favour! ... and how do they do this ... well today it emerged they've been fraudulently rigging the 'rates' (e.g. reported libor/euribor rates) ... that they themselves have gambled on ... to make sure all their bets 'win' (... and sharing the 'profit' between them)!

You couldn't make this stuff up ... and there are clearly lots more scandals still come out too!

The case for taking back control of money supply (i.e. the creation of 'electronic money'), and separating casino banking from retail/commercial banking, should now be absolutely clear to everyone. These are both imperative to i) take back control of our economy (and off of the banks!) ... and to ii) ensure we do not give money (either directly or indirectly) to casinos! 

Without a tie to our personal and business accounts, the taxpayer would not have had to bailout/subsidize casino banks ... as they could go bust ... without affecting the accounts of voters or businesses.

Moreover, gambling/financial transactions should be taxed, to fall into line with other forms of gambling! All 'money for nothing' schemes should be outlawed (i.e. banks creating 'electronic money' themselves) and gambling heavily taxed, to subsidize tax reductions to activities that 'add real value' to our economy and society.

Yet Cameron and Osborne actively boycott any such proposals, and vehemently oppose the introduction of a financial transaction (gambling) tax on their immoral betting ... 

Cameron and Osborne also appear to have given up on the economy in terms of trying to create jobs/growth ... and are now set on slashing benefits and blaming the poor ... instead of tackling the corrupt actions of bankers, or reversing flawed policies currently destroying jobs/growth!

They are also slashing public services and raising taxes for hardworking people ... whilst incredulously cutting tax for the rich ... and allowing/overseeing widespread tax avoidance by the rich too (schemes where the ultra-rich pay less than 1% cf the 30-40% tax paid by the vast majority)!

People can clearly now see there are one set of rules for the rich/powerful (i.e. no real rules) ... e.g. the counterfeiting of money, widespread tax avoidance, no criminal prosecution of bankers/executives ... but there are an ever increasing set of rules policing everyone else (e.g. 'big brother', 'police tasers' ...)!

As far as the bankers are concerned we need to hit them hard immediately ... as a trivial fine (i.e. £60m from the FSA ... nb the £290m includes US charges!) is not enough ... we should immediately take back control of money supply (i.e. 'electronic' money as well as 'paper' money - see the excellent Positive Money reports below!) ... and make sure our money is only used to provide carefully regulated loans directed to customers and business (i.e. not for themselves to gamble in pursuit of more profits/bonuses). 

A forensic legal inquiry should also be started to uncover all corrupt practices and to jail the ring leaders (nb which will no doubt quickly spread to the regulators, politicians and Government officials manipulated/'run' by these people!) ... and a complete separation of retail/casino banking should also start immediately too.

Positive Money Report ...

Whenever major decisions are taken about the future of the UK, news cameras will be aimed at reporters standing in front of Parliament. But is Parliament really where the key decisions are being made today, or has power shifted down the river to London’s financial sector, the City?

This news report from Positive Money finds a banking system that has more ‘spending power’ than the democratically elected government, no accountability to the people, and a massive concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals

However, the greatest concern is that government has surrendered one of its most important powers — the power to create money and control the money supply — to the private sector, which has exploited this power to blow up housing bubbles and indirectly transfer wealth upwards and inwards, with disastrous results. There has been no democratic debate about this transfer of power, and no law actively sanctions the current set-up.

As the last few years have shown, the banking sector can have a serious negative impact on our lives. Leaving it with such a huge and unaccountable degree of power is no more likely to work in the best interests of society or democracy in the future than it has in the past.

An Overview:

Ceding the Power to Create Money to the Banking Sector

In the current system, banks create the vast majority of money in the UK, in the form of the electronic bank deposits that appear in your bank account. They create this money without regard to how much is needed for the economy and society as a whole to operate effectively, and they put over 90% of this money towards activities that do not contribute to the growth of the real economy.

This power to create money causes inflation that insidiously transfers wealth from savers and those who hold their wealth in cash (i.e. the poor and those on medium incomes) to those who are rich enough to hold their wealth in other assets (such as property). Giving private sector banks a monopoly on the creation of money also means that whenever additional money is needed in the economy, only private banks can provide it. In effect the entire money supply must be rented from the banking sector, at great cost to the economy. The creation of electronic money is a service that could be provided by the government at no cost to anyone.

The business model that permits banks to create money—so far from the popular perception of banks as simple intermediaries between savers and borrowers—is inherently unstable and will systematically require periodic taxpayer-funded bailouts. The cost of these bailouts diverts revenue from the activities that the government was elected to do, compromising its ability to fulfil its democratically mandated objectives.

Leaving this power to create money to the private sector creates a serious democratic deficit: a process that many would consider to be the sole prerogative of the state is in the hands of corporations who have no accountability to the wider public and whose interests are completely at odds with those of society as a whole.

Overstating the True Contribution of the Banking Sector

Politicians and policy makers are misinformed about the true contribution of the banking sector because they are only shown the positive side of the sector’s contribution to government finances, i.e. the taxes they pay. The overall contribution of the UK banking sector to the Exchequer is about 6% of overall tax revenues. In the year that the banking sector paid its highest ever tax, the manufacturing sector paid over three times more.

Society is now acutely aware of the direct cost to the taxpayer of bailing out banks but less attention is directed to the hidden subsidies they benefit from, even in the good times. Firstly, because of both implicit and explicit government guarantees, when a bank borrows money it does so at an interest rate lower than it would be able to otherwise. Secondly, by giving up the power to create money the government forgoes an important source of revenue, which results in higher taxes, lower spending or a bigger national debt. Conversely, the banks benefit financially from the power to create money. These hidden subsidies more than outweigh any taxes paid by the banks.

No Accountability to Customers

Unlike pension funds, banks are not required to disclose how they will use their customers’ money. As 97% of the UK’s money supply is effectively held with banks, this allows them to allocate a larger sum of money than either the entire pension fund industry or the elected government itself. Consequently the UK economy is shaped by the investment priorities of the banking sector, rather than the priorities of society.

Just five banks hold 85% of the UK’s money, and these five banks are steered by just 78 board members whose decisions shape the UK economy. This is a huge amount of power concentrated in very few hands, with next to no transparency or accountability to wider society.

The Close Relationship Between Banking and Government

It is impossible to know how much influence the financial sector has over policy but they certainly devote substantial resources to getting it. The financial sector makes large donations to political parties: the Conservative Party is 50% financed by donors associated with the financial industry, and it offers a ‘backstage pass’ to meet the Prime Minister in exchange for a £50,000 annual donation, raising the question of whether ‘cash for access’ is subverting the political process.

Lobbying is a fact of political life and only the most naïve politician would fail to take account of their naturally biased agenda. However, the resources of banking sector lobbyists far exceed those from other sectors and therefore the views of the banking industry may be drowning out those of civil society.

The close relationship between the banking sector and its chief regulator, the FSA, should be worrying, especially given the record of the last few years.  The revolving door between the banks and their regulators revolves faster in the UK than in any country other than Switzerland and a former Prime Minister now consults for one of the world’s largest investment banks, for a salary approximately 12 times more than he earned as Prime Minister.

Policy Implications

A few economically simple changes to the banking system would return power back to the people and restore some level of democratic control over the economy. These changes are:

1. Make banks ask for permission from their customers before they lend out their money.

2. Make banks disclose how customers’ money will be invested, so that members of the public can refuse to fund activities that they are not ethically comfortable with.

3. Remove the power to create money from the banks and return it to a democratically accountable body.

Making these changes would help redress the democratic deficit in banking and limit the ability of the banking sector to damage society. After the experience of the last few years, these are changes that urgently need to be made.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Corrupt capitalism ... Profiting from Making People Fat!

Recent posts have raised the issue of the corrosive and corrupt nature of capitalism (involving the control of money and power). 

This post continues on this theme ... by focusing on how food corporations are deliberately poisoning and deceiving people ... and all in the pursuit of profit!

For decades food corporations have been heavily pressurizing and lobbying Governments ... to get their way, and to ensure they avoid any barriers (i.e. regulations) that would limit their ability to profit. 

And their route to more profits has not been to offer better/ healthier foods ... but to cut costs and find ways to make people consume more ... 

Over the last two decades scientists were starting to raise concerns about obesity and looking at the reasons people become fat (e.g. fat intake, sugar intake, exercise), but under significant pressure/lobbying from food corporations the focus of attention was pushed away from sugar intake and onto to lack of exercise and the levels/types of fat in diets ... with any scientific funding investigating the impact of sugar on obesity increasingly switched off!

The food industry
(particularly the sugar/corn companies) did this as, following their creation/manufacture of High Fructose Corn Syrup (nb basically a very cheap type of sugar, containing a glucose/fructose mix), they saw a great opportunity in the marketing of "low fat" products packed full of ultra cheap (and sweet) High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) ... and selling it for a premium! 

Fructose started to enter the food chain in massive quantities for the first time ... and it is now in the vast majority of processed foods (as a sweetener, preservative and/or browning agent). In fact it's hard to find foods without large doses of it now (e.g. the vast majority of processed foods, breads, sauces, drinks etc etc)!

... and consuming large volumes of fructose turns out to be a huge problem ... for two fundamental reasons:

1. Fructose is 'processed' by the body in a completely differently way to other carbohydrates ... unlike glucose, fructose cannot be metabolised directly by cells and it all has to be broken down by the liver (nb where poisons are processed). The process of transformation in the liver involves fructose being turned into uric acid, but also into dangerous fats which enter the bloodstream and get deposited around the body (nb additional chemicals created from breaking down fructose also enhance/accelerate this whole process further)! So 'low fat' (and highly processed) foods containing fructose are actually a way of pumping the body full of fat ... i.e. people are being duped into a terrible form of 'high fat' diet (i.e. that creates high levels of body fat) ... and are not on a 'low fat' diet at all ... and as all the advertising around it might suggest!

2. This first problem is further exacerbated by yet another fundamental problem with fructose ... the fact that the consumption of fructose does not surpress ghrelin (i.e. the hunger hormone generated by the stomach) and it doesn't stimulate insulin or leptin (i.e. the hormone that tells the brain that your body is already metabolising food, in order to surpress further intake) ... so people still feel hungry and continue to eat!

Fructose delivered to the food industry the perfect solution ... a way of making people feel continually hungry so they'll consume more ... and all under the 'banner' of healthy 'low fat' foods! 'Low fat' foods are mostly full of cheap sweet fructose, as it's used to replace all the taste lost from removing the fat (nb food tastes like cardboard without it)! You couldn't make this stuff up ... and yet it's all true (e.g. take a look at the video below from a world leading endocrinologist who attempts to explains it all ... including the biochemistry)!

Fructose has successfully generated the profits the food industry were looking for (alongside a strategy of 'super-sizing' portion sizes). Fructose is effectively a poison (processed by the liver) which has created a multitude of detrimental effects on the body including those relating to obesity (e.g. high blood pressure, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes ...) with all the consequences to public health and well-being. And the solution ... well most of the food industry are still arguing obesity is a result of lifestyle (e.g. the lack of exercise) ... and people's personal decisions (i.e. not a particular type of food) ... whilst others have made a fortune selling people 'slimming' products ... and by creating 'yo-yo' dieting!

Sporting events, such as Euro 2012 and the London 2012 Olympics Games, are also currently swamped with advertising from companies like McDonald's, Mars and Coca-Cola ... as they try desperately to link themselves to healthy activities ... when they could not be further from the truth ... e.g. Coca-Cola also contains caffeine, an addictive drug and diuretic (makes you lose water) ... which makes you feel more thirsty ... and it's also packed full of fructose (just like McDonald's meals and Mars bars!), which fills you full of calories (and increases your body fat) ... and makes you feel more hungry!

The tobacco industry is heavily taxed, banned from mainstream advertising, and surrounded by numerous health warnings ... and fructose will eventually have the same! But just like the tobacco industry ... the food industry is using all its power to stop this from happening ... and is currently succeeding!

The problem in the case of the food industry is that the Government is not just heavily lobbied ... it also 'benefits' from all the jobs created as a result of all this over consumption too (e.g. the food industry, packaging and distribution industries, supermarkets, fast-food chains, pubs, clubs and restaurants ...) ... and hence are reluctant to do anything about it ... and this will continue until the 'costs' of obesity far outweigh all the jobs involved in creating it ... or until there's a sufficient public outcry!

Morals don't come into it ... in free market capitalism its all about profit, and the food, retail, distribution and healthcare industries are all effectively 'profiting' from obesity ... and they will not cut off these profitable revenue streams out of choice ... so ordinary people are going to have to stand up against this themselves ... by boycotting these 'poisons' ... and by creating a public outcry to force the Government to do something about it!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Capitalism - A flawed and corrupt system

Capitalism - where money is allowed in 'free markets' to flow in an unrestricted way ... and without any social/moral compass ... is flawed. In the hands of the greedy, corrupt and power-hungry, money is not used to help people, but to exploit them ... in pursuit of yet more money and power ... and over the last few decades these people have proved themselves to have no conscience or morals whatsoever.

Let's start with those who argue for 'free markets' all around the world. By arguing for this what they really mean is that they should be allowed to invest in whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, and where they are most able to exploit the workforce/natural resources. If a country tries to defy them, and not allow their people to be exploited, then they will threaten them ... move their money elsewhere ... and force their communities/countries into ruin. 

Does this really happen? ... of course it does! And we see the consequences of this every day! It's why manufacturing moved to China, moving on to Vietnam ... and will eventually move to Africa (which is what China themselves are also starting to do). It's how corporations regularly threaten governments with moving their operations/jobs overseas, unless governments slash their tax bills and give them exactly what they want (e.g. Banks regularly threaten to move their centres of operation overseas to avoid taxes and any regulation restricting their immoral activities, and Vodafone were also recently let off £6bn in tax)!

Corrupt bankers, who created this global crisis, and forced governments to bail them out (using taxpayers money!) resulting in all the sovereign debt crises, are now using this bailout money in the "money markets" to force governments to take yet more bailouts (e.g. Eurozone crisis)! By wielding their power, they are forcing governments to slash public services and slash pay/conditions for the poor, in the form of "austerity programmes" (nb the UK Government is doing this whilst also slashing income tax for the ultra-rich and allowing executive/ bankers pay to soar)! 

The bankers have for decades created money out of thin air (legalized electronic counterfeiting!), lent it out at interest (money for nothing), and made 'debt slaves' of everyone. They have then been gambling this money on the 'money markets', with minimal regulation (and no 'gambling tax', despite every other form of gambling being heavily taxed!) ... where they personally take all the profits, and taxpayers take all of the risk and losses (nb this still hasn't changed)!

These are not 'free-markets', but 'corrupt markets', where the ultra-rich can openly exploit and devour the poor/hard-working. 'Free markets' would have allowed corrupt banks to fail ... they would not have handed them taxpayers money! The banks should pay the cost of 'insuring' themselves against failure, and be taxed accordingly (nb which would naturally be far greater than any traditional gambling tax)! However the Government are not doing this (nb a financial transaction tax is being vehemently opposed in the UK), as they are 'in the pockets' of the bankers and the ultra-rich ... and even if they weren't ... they would be continually threatened by them (e.g. with moving their operations overseas, moving their money, and/or forcing 'a run' on their currency/country).

If anyone has any doubt about the corrupt way in which capitalism is working ... one only needs to look at recent actions of the Bank of England and George Osborne. In the past they pumped an additional $325bn into the banks, via their so called 'Quantatitive Easing' programme, in the hope it would feed through to businesses and the wider economy ... but the banks lent very little of this out to actual businesses ... preferring to gamble with it and increase their bonuses again!

Because of this Osborne and King have just recently announced a scheme to give them more money ... but this time they are trying to position it as money they can only use to lend to real businesses! Says it all really! One Government minister also admitted this was needed because bankers were 'investing' elsewhere to get better 'returns' (i.e. in 'money for nothing' scams ... e.g. insurance, counterfeiting, gambling with other people's money)!

Moral businesses desperately trying to add value, help others and create jobs have been (and are still being) deliberately starved of money/resources ... by corrupt bankers who couldn't care a jot and are only interested in swelling their own immoral/grotesque fortunes. Adding real value to people's lives takes time, effort and resources/people, all an anathema to bankers ... as they cannot compete with legalized 'money for nothing' schemes ... 

'Free-market capitalism' effectively promotes 'money for nothing' schemes (e.g. 'financial engineering') and results in the systematic destruction of real economies/communities ... it blights communities ... and survives only because of ignorance, apathy and the centralization/control of power and capital (the 'means of production').

Moral businesses create value, corrupt bankers/financiers systematically leech from this and destroy value, and should be stopped from doing so ... We need state run community banking, investing in real business, and out of the hands of immoral bankers (gamblers), where money is invested by the people for the people ... and guess what ... we actually already effectively 'own' two banks as a result of recent bailouts ... so why don't we get on with it and put these to good use ... by putting capable, honorable and trustworthy community stakeholders on boards ... n.b. and we do not want Richard Branson or Philip Green types ... who preach to everyone, but pay no tax themselves)!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Corrupt economics: Destroying Value ... and Communities

The Government is currently promoting the fact that they are shifting their focus onto exports, manufacturing (cf finance) and growth (i.e. job creation).

However this once again appears to be all spin and no substance!

Our current trade deficit is at its worst level for seven years, manufacturing is shrinking (not increasing), and recent figures show that the vast majority of jobs currently being created are in finance (over 60%) - not manufacturing (less than 3%)! 

This Government tries to tell us the financial sector makes up a small part (less than 10%) of the total economy, which is a complete distortion ... this small figure does relate to the manufacturing sector, but not the financial sector ... and the job creation figures provide a truer picture of reality ...

Corrupt 'free market capitalism', is systematically backing/ promoting 'money for nothing' scams ... over 'real' hard-working businesses desperately trying to positively contribute to society and add real value to people's lives ..

It is well known and well documented (e.g. on this blog) that bankers (and finance companies in general) do not add any real value to society ... in fact they're actually systematically destroying value ... hence they need to be reigned in. 

In the future 'adding real value' needs to be positively backed/promoted ... and destroying value needs to be made illegal or, as a minimum, taxed very heavily to replace/cover any value it may destroy (i.e. just like other forms of gambling, tobacco, alcohol etc currently are). This Government is vehemently resisting any financial transaction tax ... which would be a good start to achieving this goal ... and why? ... well, they are 'in the pockets of the bankers', are also threatened by them (e.g. threats to move their centres overseas if they don't like what the Government is doing) ... and they allow this corrupt banking system to counterfeit money and to keep the 'means of production' (i.e. money/capital) mostly in the hands of themselves (over 60% of all new jobs/investment) ... so they can create and exploit yet more 'money for nothing' scams (i.e. 'financial engineering')!

They are systematically stealing taxpayers money, plundering and destroying communities, and stealing people's future ... by burdening communities with debt slavery for decades to come. 

Capitalism is better described as the 'economics of exploitation' ... and this is not being tackled because we also have a mockery of a democracy.

As Aristotle once said ...

"Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers"

... and ...

"In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme" ...