Thursday, December 8, 2011


I'm having a bit of an understanding banking binge at the minute. Last night I watched Inside Job, a documentary about the global financial meltdown with a particular focus on the US banking system. On Monday, I watched The Bank that Ran Out of Money about the rise and fall of the Royal Bank of Scotland, a provincial bank that over a period of a decade grew through acquisitions and dodgy products to briefly become the world's largest bank. I'm also still working my way through Anglo Republic: Inside the Bank That Broke Ireland about Anglo Irish Bank and its rapid rise and catastrophic failure. What all three reveal is how, on the one hand, bankers, insurers and other financiers' greed led to them forgetting that they were entrusted to manage customer's money and to provide sound and prudent financial advice and loans, and, on the other, that government and financial regulators failed the people who elected and trusted them by not regulating the financial system. Bankers used to be prudent and careful, partly because it was often their own money they were investing, and partly because they were regulated sufficiently to stop them gambling other peoples' money. In the last couple of decades, the bankers and politicians got into bed with each other and forgot that they were working for their constituents. The sad thing is that practically nothing has changed post crisis. Financial regulation is still almost absent and bankers are still making massive bonuses for taking risks with other peoples' money and losing it. This is the first generation in the US that are poorer than their parents and have less opportunity for class progression than their parents. The country seems to be being driven into the ground through the process of wealth transfer from the lowest earning 90% to the top 1% aided and abetted by government; the wealthy are literally asset stripping the country leaving poverty and homelessness in their wake. Heaven knows where the country will be in twenty to thirty years time if it continues on the path its on. The society portrayed by William Gibson's Virtual Light or Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash seems very possible. Anyway, take a look at Inside Job. It'll enlight and infuriate.


pattinase (abbott) said...

And here, any attempt to regulate these people is fodder for the right to object, to distort, to lie. It is more disheartening than anything I can think of.

kathy d. said...

Yep, things are worsening over here in the States.

A case in point: Associated Press reported today that one out of two people in the U.S. now lives in poverty or is low-income.

A recent study said that 49 million people frequently go to bed hungry over here.

The land of milk and honey? Hardly.