Theo Ousalotmoney: OK guys, time to open the bank.
Brancho Tellerous: Oxi (no) … we have no money.
Theo: Waddya mean, we have no money? We are a bank?
Tellerous: Yes sir, but we are a Cypriot Bank.
Tellerous: That means we’re broke.
Theo Ousalotmoney: OK guys, time to open the bank.
Brancho Tellerous: Oxi (no) … we have no money.
Theo: Waddya mean, we have no money? We are a bank?
Tellerous: Yes sir, but we are a Cypriot Bank.
Tellerous: That means we’re broke.
Just had one of those days after discovering that I sent my lawyer a cheque and he lost it.
Shouldn’t be a big issue, so I ring the bank to cancel the cheque.
That takes time, but it’s done.
I then set up an online transaction to send the money direct to his account.
That takes time and involves PIN verification secure keys and gawd knows what, but it’s done.
I relax and get on with the day.
I then get a call from some oik at the bank about the online transaction I’ve set up and asking for my account number and the first and third letter of my PIN.
Having blogged previously about who is the richest royal (and it’s not our good old Queenie), I noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was blowing over $150 million a year on his lavish lifestyle at the time.
Tony Blair makes Sarkozy look positively poor if this is the case, as he’s up there with over $45 million in riches (and that’s just what he declares, as there’s more than that in his wealth portfolio which is actually estimated to be more like $150 million).
So politics is pretty good business really, but it’s far bigger business in the USA than here.
Just spent the weekend in New York City, or New York frickin’ City as the locals say.
When they say this, they are of course referring to the great industrialist and financier Henry Clay Frick who left them this wonderful museum of art.
Walking around Davos, we stumble across a small enclave of bank chiefs sharing breakfast. In this case, Demon, Blankfine, Jinkens and Gilliver, the CEOs of JPM, GSachs, Barcs and HBSC respectively.
Next week, I’ll get back to being Mr. Boring Banking Blogger, and will focus upon the economic, financial and technological trends for 2013, as per my usual start to the year.
For today, purely because it’s still the silly season (yes, 12 days of Christmas is still going strong here), I’m going to make ten mad predictions for 2013. Let’s see if any of these come true.
I've worked for American firms during my main working life, just as we saw the rise of political correctness (PC) and the PC-police.
It got to the stage where you couldn't even say "I like your new hairstyle", without falling foul of the PC-police (I know, as one of my male colleagues in Chicago got a reprimand from HR for saying that to a femail co-worker).
It’s Friday so it’s fun day.
Just browsing around for a few amuse bouches, and found these adverts for various banks around the world.
This is partly because of the post I made about Japan’s banking adverts, which inspired a few readers to send in their versions.
This one is from Korea’s Shinhan Bank for example …
Sure, it’s different but it’s not exceptionally bad or funny.
Unlike this Polish advert for PKO Bank Polski …
I just saw a note today that the Science Museum has acquired the very last typewriter produced by the Brother factory:
“The factory’s 200 employees witnessed the final model of the Brother CM-1000 being packed into its box to a soundtrack of emotional sighs and cheers. This object is the 5,855,533rd of its type to be produced but the only one which has a place in the Science Museum collection.”
Ah, did anyone shed a tear?
Maybe you should as the typewriter was the instrument that provided the inception for modern, ubiquitous computing (Charles Babbage et al aside).
A hundred years ago, things were different but the same.
We needed to eat, but what we ate was very much a national rather than international cuisine.
We had to travel, but we would walk, bicycle of take the train.
We enjoyed entertainment, with a visit to the cinema once a month as a treat.
We had to talk, and most of this communication would be face-to-face.
A century later, we eat an international cuisine, catch a plane as easily as a train, watch the movies on our telephones and communicate 24 by 7 by remote media.
But one thing hasn’t changed much.
So here we are, a few of us anyway, at SIBOS 2012 in Osaka, Japan.
Every time I click on something online, I get this funny thing about agreeing terms and conditions.
The popup window appears and my brain shuts down. I just hit ‘accept’, ‘agree’ and move on.
I guess the reason is that I don’t care what the small print says, I just want the end result.
I want the game, the goods, the download, the music, the movie, the wine, women and song.
I don’t want to read a whole load of legal guff that I assume is just corporate gobbledygook to cover their asses if things go wrong.
And what could go wrong?
Every now and again I fall into the position of writing an episode of today’s issues set in a classic British sitcom. Monty Python and Yes Minister are the two comedies that set much of my outlook on life and so, to celebrate the events in the City of the past week, here is this week’s Yes Minister.
Friday 29th June 2012
Jim Hacker (Prime Minister) is sitting at his desk with a frown, tapping irritatingly on his laptop keyboard, as his Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey enters the room.
Jim: Ah, Humphrey, I’m a little bit concerned about this banking scandal.
Humphrey: What, the LIBOR thing?
Jim: No, the fact that I can’t get into my NatWest account. What’s this LIBOR thing?
Humphrey: Oh, nothing. It will go away.
Jim: Yes, but what is it?
Humphrey: Just a small scandal in the City, sir. It will go away.
Jim: This is not being very helpful Humphrey. If there’s a scandal out there, I want to know about it. Now, what is it?
Humphrey: Oh well. Barclays bank just got fined over fixing interest rates.
Jim: That’s good isn’t it? I’ve got a fixed rate mortgage. What’s the problem?
Humphrey: No Minister, not like that. They’ve been caught working with the other banks to set the interbank borrowing rates in their favour.
Jim (frowning again): Ahhh. Does it look bad?
Humphrey: I don’t think so. Caveat emptor and all that.
Jim: What, it was the buyers who should beware of the banks interest rates?
Humphrey: Exactly sir. Anyway, I will be meeting my opposite number at the Bank very shortly to ensure that this is all battened down.
Jim: Good. Meantime, can you ask Bernard to get that Hester chap’s PA on the phone. I’m trying to pay this darned gas bill and online banking seems not to be working today.
Humphrey: What a glitch!
Jim: Actually Humphrey, I think her name is Patricia and I’m not sure she’d appreciate you talking to her that way.
Scene fades out.
Monday 2nd July 2012
At the Saint Stephen’s Club, the private rooms where Sir Humphrey does most of his dealing, Humphrey is sitting having enjoyed lunch with his good friend Sir Mark Royal of the Bank of England, who is sitting in an equally sumptuous red leather armchair with a large brandy in hand.
Humphrey: Tell me Mark, we’re hearing on the QT that there was a little bit more background to this Barclays boring lies story than has come out in the press. Can you tell me any more?
Mark: Oh nothing to worry about old chap, it was just usual.
Humphrey: What do you mean, ‘usual’?
Mark: You know, business as usual. It was the way the City worked. We’ll sort it out.
Humphrey: The way the City worked? But Barclays just got fined half a billion dollars! Surely, they did something wrong.
Mark: Well, that’s what everyone is saying now, but it wasn’t that bad. Just the way the City worked.
Humphrey: Look, I’ve had dealings with the City and know how it worked Mark, but rate rigging, fines, an apparent culture of buck the system and screw everyone doesn’t go down well these days. So how are we going to sort this out?
Mark: Well, I’ve had a word with the Diamond chap and he’s not going to co-operate. Luckily, Marcus and I go way back to Trinity, Cambridge, and he owes me a few favours, so we’ll get it sorted out.
Humphrey: But I thought Marcus had resigned as Chair of Barclays this morning?
Mark: He did, but he’s going to retract his resignation.
Humphrey: That seems a bit silly. Why would he do that?
Mark: Because I told him to.
Humphrey: Why would you do that?
Mark: Because the Diamond was going to snitch.
Humphrey: Look you’re losing me now Mark. What is really going on here?
Mark: Well, you know how the previous government believed the economy would boom forever?
Mark: And you know how the economy eventually bust, with Northern Rock failing and a year later RBS and HBOS.
Humphrey: Yes. And …
Mark: Well, Gordon Brown’s Permanent Secretary, you know that academic chappie Don Teacher, would regularly meet me, like we are now, and we would talk about things.
Humphrey: Yes. So.
Mark: Well, you know how it goes …
Humphrey: I see.
Humphrey sits for a while thinking.
Humphrey: So the situation is that we’re all in this together.
Mark: That’s the one.
Scene fades and returns to Hacker’s private chambers where Jim is in an animated conversation with Bernard, both of them bent over Hacker’s laptop.
Jim: I’m sure I entered the details correctly.
Bernard: Well, it looks like you added an extra zero or two sir.
Jim: Not at all Bernard. I entered £162.78p. How that translates to £162,780 I have no idea.
Bernard: Well, it seems to be the case sir, although I did say that I would handle your gas bill.
Jim: I know that Bernard, but this is on my fifth home – you know the one no-one’s supposed to know about – and therefore I have to do it.
Door opens without announcement and Sir Humphrey enters the room breathing heavily.
Humphrey: Minister, we have a problem.
Bernard sighs, picks up the papers from the desk and moves to the door.
Bernard: Don’t worry sir, I’ll sort out the gas bill.
Jim: Thank you Bernard. Now Humphrey, what seems to be the problem?
Humphrey: Well that LIBOR thing.
Jim: Oh yes. Good jokes going around on that one btw. I particularly liked this advert for Barclays …
Humphrey: Stop it Prime Minister. We need to act and act fast.
Jim, now trying to be serious: Oh. What’s happening?
Humphrey: Well, it appears we are all in this together.
Jim: What do you mean Humphrey, I’m not in this at all.
Humphrey: Yes you are Prime Minister.
Jim: No I’m not. I’ve never been near a live boar, let alone a LIBOR.
Jim starts to chuckle until he sees Sir Humphrey’s face starting to turn a shade of purple.
Humphrey: I’ve just found out that the last government were instructing the Bank of England to tell the UK banks what policy to use when they were setting the interbank interest rates.
Humphrey: Well, this means that Barclays got a fine, but there’s much more to it than that.
Jim, resignedly: OK, Humphrey, tell me everything.
Humphrey: Well, as we all know, the City has always worked closely with the Government to manage the economy.
Humphrey: Over the fullness of time, and with all of the right conditions, that relationship became a little too close apparently.
Jim: Aha. But that’s good isn’t it, as we can nobble the last government and make ourselves look good.
Humphrey: Yes, we could do that … except many of those in office are still around in the service and have a few stories about the previous government before that one.
Jim: But that’s history Humphrey, whereas the 2008 crisis is still news.
Humphrey: Yes, but there are a few stories about how your party is funded that go back to then, before and are still around now.
Jim: What do you mean?
Humphrey: Well your election campaign for example, was part funded by several donations from top figures at the banks.
Jim: You mean …
Tuesday 3rd July 2012
Final scene opens with a loud Parliamentary debate where the leader of the opposition party, Ned Chillihand, is speaking.
Ned: Why won’t the Prime Minister call for a public inquiry, when it is obvious that we all need to know what happened here from a truly independent committee.
Jim: Well, as my esteemed colleague is fully aware, a parliamentary investigation into the LIBOR rate fixing row is more than warranted. However, I cannot see the value of a full public inquiry, given the expense and time involved. What we need to focus upon today is growth in the economy and getting this country back on track. No one wants to spend time shilly shallying around trying to dig up skeletons in closets that were closed long ago.
No. No-one does, do the y?
Hence, the reason for a cross-party parliamentary investigation of the LIBOR rates fixing scandal rather than a full public inquiry.
We had a fun evening last week at the Financial Services Club with Geraint Anderson, aka Cityboy, who gave us an amusing insight packed full of anecdotes into life in his City trading days.
Geraint Anderson began his career as a utilities analys with ABN AMRO before moving via Société Générale and Commerzbank to Dresdner Kleinwort in 2000, where he was named top stock-picker two years running.
His team became number two in the utilities sector with Anderson personally judged the fourth highest-ranked analyst (out of around 100).
Gearint gave it all up in 2008, after writing a column in the London paper called Cityboy, which went on to become a best-selling book.
So his stories about the City are admittedly pre-crisis but Geraint claims that not a great deal has changed.
Talking with his trading mates, who are still in the City, they tell him that life is treating them fine and they are sleeping like babies.
He was a little surprised to hear such views, but was cheered when they explained that this meant they woke up every two hours in the night pooing their pants!
The trading world that he portrayed is the same you will find if you read other trading room page turners, like Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker or Jordan Belfort’s the Wolf of Wall Street (currently being made into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese).
Namely, it’s a testosterone fuelled alpha male inhabited jungle where you get rich, get eaten or get out.
Geraint learned such challenges on his first day in the trading room when a whale of a trader – not The Whale - came up to him and, realising that Geraint is Welsh, boomed across the trading room: “What do you call three sheep tied to a post in Wales?” to which Geraint gamely responded “a leisure centre”.
Having held his own, he was accepted.
That’s the thing about the trading room – one-upmanship is rife, and you’re either the winner or the loser, but never neutral.
That’s why the focus is purely upon trying to make as much money as possible because good times always come to an end, and the trading room is where the young bucks make a few millions for a few years, then get burnt out and thrown out.
It is why there is such an arrogant swagger amongst the young masters of the universe who, as one was quoted, would say: “if I had been paid £10,000 every time someone said the good times were coming to an end, then I would be almost as rich as I am”.
In the City, the trading room is all about liquidity, volume and volatility. A long term investment is just a short term investment that went wrong, and clients would turn and churn their investments over two, three or four times a day.
Geraint admitted that he himself managed to convince a client to buy and sell a particular stock all in the space of thirty five minutes.
That’s good business!
However, the business is based upon an asymmetrical risk model created when the private partnerships become public firms.
As Goldman, Morgan and the rest turned into public firms at the end of the 1990s, the capital injection you personally placed at risk to become a partner disappeared.
However, the culture of selling and buying did not.
So now you had traders who would win if they got their risks right, but would not lose if they got them wrong.
That’s where the City went wrong.
It is why traders could go out and infect the global markets with a trillion dollars of toxic debt without worries, as this was logical.
If you got three or four big bonuses and were then thrown out, it gave you enough to sit on a beach for the rest of your life, so why wouldn’t you do it?
Equally, insider trading is rife.
You only have to look at the Finanser’s Things Worth Reading on a daily basis to realise this. Here’s just a few examples from the last week or two:
And, like our debate of the previous week, Geraint was building a strong picture of the fact that greed and corruption is rife in the City.
The reason is that insider trading is a way of making money without any likelihood of being caught and, even if you are, it is extremely unlikely that you will be punished for it.
For example, from 2006 to 2009, unusual share price movements preceded 30% of all UK mergers and acquisitions, a statistic that stubbornly refused to budge until the FSA started bringing cases to court. That’s why we’re seeing so many more cases today.
This is where Geraint made it clear that things are changing – back to the sleeping like a crying baby stuff – as rules are cracking down on these illegal practices.
Last year, the share of deals preceded by unusual trading dropped by a third to 20%. “The message to the market is clear. Market professionals in possession of privileged information need to behave accordingly,” says Patrick Spens, FSA head of market monitoring. “This is not difficult to understand.”
Geraint concluded that his trading colleagues today tell him that life has changed in three fundamental ways: it’s not as much fun; there’s not as much money; and compliance and audit are a non-stop hassle.
We finished the evening with a book signing session.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the City and the Cityboy, you too can read Geraint’s books:
I've worked around the City most of my adult life, but still get a surprise when you find something new there. Yesterday was one of those days, when I discovered that there is a full size cricket pitch in the middle of the City.
No, this is not photoshop. It's real.
Well, I never, knock me down with a feather, cor blimey, love a duck ...
I’m having one of those days.
It started off OK, and then it just went downhill.
So I was going to blog about various market opportunities and ideas in banking and then thought: sod it, time for a whinge.
The whinge is because I’ve suddenly turned from being a young angry rebel without a cause into a grumpy old man.
Yes, I admit it, a lot of stuff makes me grumpy these days.
Here’s just a few:
Going to the shops to checkout the videos, books and records
I said to a friend over the weekend that I enjoyed going to the shopping centre to just waste time checking out the latest videos, books and records. They laughed and I realised my mistake pretty rapidly. Of course, I don’t need to go out to check them out, just download. It’s not the same though.
PC updates and crashes caused by Microsoft
There's nothing like greeting the day with a smile and a hot coffee to hit the PC button and get that message “installing 14 updates” ...
Getting the card
Similarly, there's nothing like coming home after a hard day to find the Post Office or Fedex card on the doormat saying that we tried to deliver something, you were out, so come over and pick it up yourself. Of course, I’m out. It was 11:30 in the morning and, like most human beings, I work. Go figure.
Going to the bank to pay in a cheque
The only time anyone goes to a bank branch today is to pay in a cheque, but why are people sending cheques in 2012? Send me e-money, close all those branches and be kinder to trees.
Not getting my 1p change
Why do shops advertise stuff as £9:99 or £12:99? Fez’ up and admit it’s £10 and £13 and, if you won’t, then give me my 1p change. The number of shops I go to that take my cash and then keep the 1p. It’s just taking the P! Insist on the change.
It used to be easy doing passwords but websites are now forcing you to add one number, one upper case character, at least four lowercase and some punctuation mark. How am I supposed to remember which one had the upper and lower case and which need numbers and which don’t? I now try out all of them and get blocked on the third attempt, so I reset and start all over again. Just sign on with Facebook!!!
I’ve got a whole load more btw, including:
and more, but think that’s quite enough for one day.
If you want more of that, just go buy the book.
Instead, here are few things to cheer you up that Siri says (if you don’t have an iPhone, Siri is it’s built-in voice recognition system:
And finally, the greatest Big Bang episode of recent times:
Back to normal tomorrow.
I was travelling on British Airways the other day, and really enjoyed their article in Business Life Magazine about how much the Queen costs the economy,
As a result, I thought it worth posting today as we’re about to head off on a four-day vacation in Britain to celebrate her sixty years on the throne …
… I normally spend less than sixty minutes on the throne, heh, heh.
Here’s a summary of the article, which makes for good reading I think.
What does the Queen cost the taxpayer?
Anti-monarchist group Republic says the Queen cost taxpayers £200 million in 2011. That is calculated on the basis of the amount she receives from the Civil List plus the cost of security for major events such as the Royal Wedding.
That means the Queen is good value as the real cost is less than zero thanks to the Queen's great- great- great-grandfather George III.
After losing Britain's colonies in the Americas, George III needed funds and offered to exchange the rents from the Crown Estate, Britain's biggest landowner, for the Civil List stipend.
Last year the Crown Estate raised revenues of more than £230m, leaving taxpayers in the black.
From next year, after the Civil List has been abolished, the Queen will instead receive a proportion of revenues from the Crown Estate in recognition of the funds it contributes to the Treasury's coffers.
Over the last five years, payments to the monarch have fallen by 19% in real terms.
Last year, she received a £32.1 million annual stipend from the Treasury via the Civil List. The payment equated to 51 pence for every British taxpayer, less than a third of the price of a cup of coffee.
This year the Civil List has been cut to £31 million, and will be abolished next year.
The Thames River Pageant on Sunday will cost the taxpayer nothing as it is funded by over £10 million of private donations and sponsorship, including a large chunk from JPMorgan.
Howard Archer, chief economist at consultancy HIS Global Insight, claims the Diamond Jubilee extra bank holiday will cost Britain £7 billion, or 0.5% of GDP … but he also accepts that this will be offset in part by a boost to the economy from spending on Diamond Jubilee street parties, as well as an increase in tourism.
Research by VisitBritain found the monarchy also generated £500 million from foreign tourists in 2009, out of a total spend of £4.6 billion in the UK.
Of the tourists who came to the country last year 5.8 million visited a castle, with London's royal palaces the top destinations.
More than 400,000 took in Buckingham Palace, earning £41.7 million for House of Windsor Inc, which the Queen used to maintain her royal houses rather than rely on money from taxpayers.
The monarchy has always been good news at the box-office, with British-made films The Queen and The King's Speech generating £49.3m and £88m respectively.
800 private companies from Rigby and Peller, which makes the Queen's bras, to Hunter, which makes her wellington boots, benefit from an association with the House of Windsor through a Royal Warrant.
The Royal Wedding was a showcase for British design with Sarah Burton, top designer at the Alexander McQueen label, catapulted into the limelight when she designed the wedding dress.
She is not the wealthiest person in Britain
The Queen is not the wealthiest person in Britain. The richest resident, according to the 2011 Sunday Times Rich List is Indian steel magnate Laskshmi Mittal, who has a fortune of £17.5 billion.
The Queen is not the richest woman as Kirsty Bertarelli has an estimated worth of £6.9 billion.
The Queen is not even as rich as J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series.
She is the 257th richest person in the country, with assets of around £300 million (although the Sunday Times does leave out the Queen's most valuable assets: the Crown Estate is valued at up to £8 billion, with Buckingham Palace worth a further £3.5 billion, and the Royal Art collection worth billions more.
Nor is she the wealthiest monarch
That accolade goes to Hans Adam II, the ruler of Liechtenstein, who has an estimated worth of £3 billion, half of which comes from their ownership of LGT Bank.
Second richest monarch is Prince Albert von Thum und Taxis of Germany with £1.27 billion of assets in real estate, art and shares (and no royal duties as he’s not a reigning monarch)
Prince Albert Grimaldi II of Monaco also beats the Queen with £622 million of assets
The Queen’s lowly worth of £318 million seems minuscule by comparison, although it is double the worth of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands whose £127 million is mainly comprised of holdings in Royal Dutch Shell
And she’s not the highest cost for a monarch either
The Queen is also good value for money when you compare her budget with those of other monarchs.
Annual budgets for maintaining European monarchs and heads of state 2010-2011:
... and then there's Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France who cost the French taxpayer £93 million last year.
Sources: The English Blog; Elysee Palace; Professor Herman Matthijs, Ghent University
As we approach euro meltdown (join our webinar with GTNews on Tuesday for more on this), I thought it might be worth listening in to the videocall that took place between Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy yesterday.
START OF CALL 15:30 GMT 17/05/2012
David Cameron: “Well, welcome to this video call about the euro crisis. I thought we should have this call to try to solve the issues we see in Greece and the potential issues it raises with a euro breakup …”
Angela Merkel: “I thought we called this video call?”
David Cameron: “Actually, it was my undersecretary who rang your …”
Herman Van Rompuy: “Please, please … we need to start this call as we mean to go on with a unifying approach to our euro problems.”
David Cameron: “I’m sorry, who are you?”
David: “Well, if you’re her man, then I guess my undersecretary rang you. So did we call this video conference or not?”
Herman: “I’m not her man.”
David: “Well, whose man are you.”
Herman: “No, I’m Herman.”
Mario Monti: “Look Cameron, is easy, he is not her man, your man, or my man, he is Herman.”
David: “You Europeans.”
Francois Holllande: “Monsieur Cameron, let’s move along as we all know you should not be on this call anyway.”
Francois: “Well, I do not know why you British are even on this call when you are not part of Europe.”
David: “We jolly well are, you know.”
Francois: “You just called us 'Europeans' a minute ago, so you obviously do not think of yourself as European, do you?”
David: “Come on. I enjoy a cappuccino and pain au raisin like the rest of Europe.”
Francois: “That does not make you European, especially when you support le petite Napoleon Sarkozy instead of moi.”
Angela: “Thank you Herr Hollande, and to the point. What do you think we should do about Greece, the euro and a potential Eurozone breakup.”
Francois: “Why should I tell you, ma mere?”
Angela: “What did you call me?”
Angela: “I am not your mother.”
Francois: “Well, don’t they call you mutti in Germany, which means mother does it not?”
Herman: “What has any of this got to do with solving the crisis in the Eurozone.”
Francois: “Well, it could be very important to know who is the mother and who is the father of the euro.”
David: “Oh god.”
Mario: “Look, the main thing that people want is not some sort of family in Europe, but unity. We need political leadership and I think I can bring that to the table.”
Francois: “And how will you do this?”
Mario: “Well, if she is mother mutti then I am father Monti.”
Angela: “Who are you calling a mother?”
David: “Look, stop this. It’s getting us nowhere and we need some form of announcement about how we are going to stem the Greek and Spanish tragedy for the G8 summit at Camp David this weekend.”
Mario: “Yes, I like Camp David.”
Francois: “Oh, I have never been. What’s it like?”
Mario: “It’s a presidential retreat for that tanned guy who leads America.”
David: “Did you just say what I thought you said?”
David: “That Barack Obama is some ‘tanned guy who leads America’.”
Mario: “Yes, so?”
David: “Well, I thought you were different to that chap before you. You cannot say such things in public as it is not politically correct.”
Mario: “And who are you to talk about correctness when you are not correct.”
Mario: “Well, you veto the European treaty, you make comments about the Eurozone breaking up, you are always against Europe, so how can you even talk to me about correctness?”
Herman: “Look, this call is getting us nowhere. What are we going to do about Greece.”
Francois: “Ah Greece is the word.”
Mario: “Ah yes, it's got groove it's got meaning.”
Francois: “Aha, Greece is the time, is the place is the motion.”
Angela: “That is it!”
Angela: “We can show a unified front by having us all sing the song Greece.”
David: “It’s Grease.”
Angela: “Yes, Greece is the word, is the way we are feeling.”
Mario: “It's got groove it's got meaning.”
Francois: “Greece is the time, is the place is the motion.”
Angela: “Greece is the way we are feeling.”
David: “I’m off.”
Herman: “Me too.”
END OF CALL 16:00 GMT 17/05/2012
REUTERS:European leaders agree wording for Greece deal
For the past few weeks, the daily headlines have included report after report of insider dealings, trades that were rigged, interest rate setting practices where banks fix things to make a buck and worse. Here are three examples from just this morning's news:
We even have the Church involved in the scandal now, with the news from the Vatican that four priests are to go on trial for money laundering, but that’s nothing new.
What is new is the number of insider trails taking place, the fines, the witch-hunt or dealer-hunt if you prefer, and the whole way that this has come to the fore in the last few months.
Maybe it’s partly to do with the Bribery Act that came into force recently in the UK, or the whole bank-bashing anti-capitalist, post credit crisis angst of politicians and regulators, but it strikes me that those doing dodgy dealings should be a little concerned.
After all, we have the prime example folks like Bernie Madoff, but when you get hedge fund managers who are like Lewis Chester, you really know that someone is taking the biscuit.
What was Chester’s crime?
Purely late trading in the US mutual funds markets, a practice that is outlawed by the Securities & Exchange Commission, and ignored by the likes of Lewis Chester.
In a court case this week, he got taken to the cleaners by the US courts and fined $77 million, a pretty hefty fine for a hedge fund but even more embarrassing for Chester himself who came out of this case as clearly not realising how emails to his broker could be incriminating.
Take this one.
Mr. Chester allegedly wrote in an email to James Wilson, a broker: “I really EXPECT you guys to go out of your way to make sure I get late trading.”
Sounds pretty incriminating, but nowhere near as bad as his attitude, which is deflected as being pure “broker banter”.
An example is this email to his broker for not doing what he wanted when he wanted: “Poor souls, working past cookie and milk time...for once in your lives, you can work like real men and do a proper day’s work. (You really are a bunch of women of the first order)”, tells you that one.
People are people and humans are humans, you should treat them as such.
Mind you, the hedge fund manager market is a breed apart.
Take the hedge fund manager who posted this email response to a girl he asked for a second date: “I will be sure to add you to the list of people who, after receiving an invitation to a second date, require extra time to write back (my internet was down! work was crazy! family business!), and then proceed to inform me of how great I am before insinuating that I have the attractiveness of a toad.”
You may think that’s fairly innocuous, but it’s the start of a lengthy diatribe where he effectively tells his proposed second dater that she really must learn a lesson about how to turn a guy down.
No wonder she forwarded the whole thing to Gawker with the cover note: “Oh, I never mentioned his attractiveness, much less that he was a toad!”
All in all, you get the sense that the stereotype of an investment banker, trader, hedge fund manager and any other testosterone fuelled male in the City is one of some big fat, condescending, arrogant arsehole.
Oh, and then a study is produced that proves this is totally true.
According to Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal: “A University of Southern California researcher found insomnia, alcoholism, heart palpitations, eating disorders and an explosive temper in some of the roughly two dozen entry-level investment bankers she shadowed fresh out of business school.”
The study basically shows that most folks who enter investment banking rapidly become shrivelling wrecks who either handle it by taking every drug known possible to man or imploding.
“John Chrin, a former managing director at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. who left the firm in June 2009 to pursue an executive-in-residence position at Lehigh University, recalls seeing junior staff gain 30 or 40 pounds within a couple years on the job.”
As Dealbreaker summarises this article: “Study Concludes Banking Brings Out Your Inner Fat Asshole”.