Saturday, 23 March 2013

Financial Terror-Plane...Mayday mayday...

Right now we're all in a financial airliner. We hit some turbulence in 2008 which woke the pilots up from their sleep, and in 2011 they realised that they were leaking fuel and at some point would have to ditch into the ocean. But instead of preparing the crew and passengers, they've just got the cabin crew to dish out free alcohol and have a party in 1st class.

However there're a few air force pilots in the back of the plane who can see this fuel leak and are trying to warn the other passengers in economy class that something horrible is going to happen unless decisive action is implemented ASAP. But the cabin staff keeps patronising them and telling them that the pilots are very well qualified, have many degrees and know what they're doing. However it's obvious that the crew and airline pilots are very drunk by now. It's 2013 and the whole plane is now completely oblivious that engine No.1 has just cut out.

Now Captain Berninke, despite making some horrific decisions and radio calls is actually a very smart guy. He knows perfectly well what's about to happen, but he's powerless to change the predicament as they are losing fuel and have long gone past the 'point of no return'. But he's under orders from his airline (Goldman Airways) to keep the status quo amongst the passengers and VIPs in 1st class. So he's ordered his co pilot Frederica Reversa and head of cabin crew Julie P Morgain to cover up the inevitable crash as long as possible by dishing out the drinks.

As a result of this constant alcohol stimulus, the passengers in 1st class are having the time of their lives! Everyone is merry and despite the large flow of alcohol, only a small portion of it is reaching economy class. The bankers in 1st class are just keeping it amongst themselves. In a way, this is probably a good thing. If all of a sudden the Tequila slammers and Sambuca poured into economy class, there'd be a hell of a party which would most likely lead to hyperintoxication. Not so long ago, Zimbab-Airlines went bankrupt after they served too much booze on their planes and experienced hyperintoxication. The wise air force pilots on our flight are warning people that hyperintoxication could happen to us, but the cabin crew just keep telling them to shush. Even though 21 airlines have suffered from hyperintoxication in the last 25 years...

Somehow, a group of bickering mothers in economy class have managed to sneak a few bottles of whisky onto the plane. But the alpha mothers, Germania and Belgica have been trying to ration it as the party girls Italine, Espagnie and Gretel have borrowed too much and are suffering from an awful hangover. However, the rest of economy class are shocked when Belgica, out of the blue, just forces her way into Cyprissy's handbag and steals some mini wine bottles.

Engine No.2 has now cut out....

All of a sudden, economy class are beginning to worry a bit as Belgica seems to be a bit of a bully and are wondering if she can steal other people's alcohol. But oblivious to everyone there's a passenger called Mr. Prutin who's quietly furious about Belgica stealing Cyprissy's alcohol. As Cyprissy was a bit of a shrinking violet who never attracted much attention, Mr. Prutin thought it was a safe idea to store his secret alcohol in Cyprissy's handbag. So it turns out that over 80% of Cyprissy's alcohol was actually Mr. Prutins. Now despite all attention being on the mothers to see if they start drinking or hiding their alcohol from Belgica, the air force pilots are concerned about Mr. Prutin. He’s a quiet stocky guy with a strong right hook and he’s been known to source his Russian Vodka from dubious sources. He’s been asleep throughout the whole flight but is evidently miffed about the Cyprissy situation.

Now the wise air force pilots who actually predicted the turbulence in 2008 and 2011 have long since donned their rare Sliver & Glod parachutes. As a result of this, some of the other passengers in the back like Mr. Prutin, Mr. Chow, Mr. Kahn and Mr. Singh have paid attention to the air force pilots and have started to put on their Sliver & Glod parachutes. However they’re not just stopping there, instead of swapping and sharing their alcohol (as they know it will only worsen the situation), they have started to hoard and accumulate as many parachutes as possible. In fact Mr. Chow has got dozens of his young cousins to rummage around the aircraft and bring back any materials which they can use to make and hoard more parachutes. But Mr. Chow is quite the cheeky one as he’s started to sell a lot of fake parachutes to the other passengers…
As a result of this parachute accumulation frenzy, the other passengers are starting to ask some questions, but the cabin crew just keep dismissing the queries. They just keep saying that Goldman Airways always stores enough parachutes for everyone aboard stored in the special Fort Socks vault in the cockpit.. However the air force pilots are skeptical about this as Germania recently asked Captain Berninke for her parachutes she stored there and Berninke said it would take 7 years to deliver them. Despite it taking only 4 months to deliver Mr. Vuvuzela’s parachutes 2 years ago…

Now while all of this is going on, Mr. Sayonara, who’s been drinking his sorrows away for the duration of the flight, has suddenly announced that he’s now going to hold a drinking competition and that the last one to ‘down their drinks’ is a loser. The air force pilots are now very worried because every plane flight they've been on where there’s been a drinking competition, it always ends badly. Nasty words are said and fights always break out. It also doesn't help the situation that there’s a drunk guy called Mr. N. Cornea who’s got ‘little man syndrome’ and in an attempt to gain credibility has just brandished a 9mm pistol…

Monday, 18 March 2013

How corrupt can banks actually be?

Ellie (fiancĂ©e/house executive) and I are going back to our roots and have recently moved house from Leicester to Norwich. Now normally on long journeys I insist on listening to an audiobook of some sort to capitalise on this dead time (to Ellie’s usual protest), but on our last trek back to Norwich we listened to a music radio station for the first time in a while. I soon remembered why I don’t listen to the radio much due to the tripe that’s on it, and Ellie’s not fond of Radio 4 but what I found amusing on the news piece is that another bank has been found guilty of fraud and cooking the books and all they got was a slap on the wrist.  The radio then just flowed nonchalantly onto the next story. It’s amazing how that we’re all so used to hearing of banking sector scandals these days that we just shrug and mention nothing of it. Surely I can’t be the only one who’s outraged and slightly shocked that nothing’s being done to fix these continuous scandals? I think part of the problem is that we as a whole think that we can’t fix it all as it’s way over our heads. People tend to think that unless you have a whole alphabet of letters after your name, you shouldn’t go near finance and the banks. Also I don’t think that many people actually fully understand the real significance and extent of this ‘banking cancer’ because if we did, I’m sure there’d be a revolt!
So like with any issue, a full comprehension of the topic is a good start, so I’ve done the leg work for you and compiled a small list of some of the things the banks have been caught doing recently:
  • LIBOR scandal
  • UBS carries out unauthorised trading, loses $2.3 Billion and tried to cover it up by cooking the books in order to not become nationalised during the 2008 crisis.
  • Societe Generale hid over $4.5 billion in losses from unauthorised trading.
  • Wells Fargo were fined $175 million for discriminating against certain races.
  • JP Morgan lost $5.8 billion from a trade that went wrong. This was made using customer funds.
  • Standard Chartered (a UK bank) were fined $327 million for illegal dealings with rogue nations. Then fined again for $340 million for being caught doing over $250 billion of transactions with Iran and making hundreds of millions in profit from fees.
  • A former Goldman Sachs Director, Rajat Gupta was fined $5 million and jailed for 2 years for sharing inside information.
  • Kabul Bank siphoned $861 million out of war-torn Afghanistan by issuing fake loans.
  • The wife of Philipp Hildebrand (former Chairman of the Swiss National Bank) made £322 000 by buying US Dollars just before the SNB manipulated their currency by grossly devaluing the Swiss Franc. The ‘Swissy’ was becoming too strong against the Dollar and it was hurting Swiss exports. Hildebrand has recently quit his position due to this ‘insider-trading’.
  • HSBC has recently been fined £1.2 billion for money laundering for drug cartels, terrorists and rogue nations. They also facilitated 25 000 undisclosed transactions with Iran (despite UN sanctions) over a 7 year period.
  • Barclays Bank has just been caught committing fraud by hiding £11.5 billion from their balance sheet by giving it to a Qatari company. Then using that company to re-invest it back into Barclays to help the share price. Barclays have only been fined £290 million.

I could continue, but I think you get the point. Bear in mind that these are only a few examples of the times the Banks have actually been caught red handed. Who knows what else they’re doing which is going unchecked? It’s also comical how they’re treated once they are caught. They are simply slapped with a small fine, effectively told to not do it again and at worst, given a bit of bad press in the papers. That’s all. It’s extremely rare that anyone actually ends up in jail so there’s no real deterrent. Most of these fines are below $500 million and it may seem large, but I can assure you that it is simply loose change for the banking world. It’s like you making hundreds of thousands of Pounds in profit from running an illegal Ponzi scheme, laundering money for drug dealers, going to the casino with your grandmother’s pension money, then get caught red handed by the Police and simply given an ASBO with a £4.50 fine. Now if you actually did get caught doing all of that in real life you’d be on the front page of the Sun newspaper, fined and imprisoned for years. You’d be more hated by the public than Tesco Value lasagne. Now for fear of sounding a bit crazy, it’s almost as though the Banking Industry has got such an influence and grip on politicians and the Government that they’re simply helpless to do anything about it. And these fines are just lip-service to appease the law in some manner. I may be completely wrong about this, so please enlighten me if I am, but I just can’t see any other reason. I’m pretty confident that the Government relies heavily on private funding/donations from the financial sector in some way, but as I said, I’m just speculating here. My only aim for this article is to just make you slightly more aware of the Banks so that you understand their propensity for huge profits and how far they’ll go to procure it. Stay tuned, as I’ll be explaining in 6 year old language just exactly how they make their money day to day. You’ll be scarily surprised to the core…