We hear about green shoots. I don’t believe they’re happening. Take three articles from today’s FT. Start with this:
ECB pumps €442bn into banking system
The European Central Bank on Wednesday pumped hundreds of billions of euros in one-year loans into the eurozone’s weakened banking system, making record amounts of emergency finance available in a bid to unlock credit markets and revive the region’s economies.
In other words, the drain on taxpayer funds has still not stopped but banks are still not delivering.
Beware the off-balance sheet return
Reporters have tried for years to make accounting sound interesting. When it comes to off-balance-sheet accounting our job has been made easier, since we have been able to attach adjectives such as “shady”, “shadowy”, “opaque” or, best of all, “Enronesque”.
But no longer. Qualified special purpose entities are finally dead. These have been the vehicles of choice through which US banks have bundled vast pools of loans off their balance sheets and away from the eyes of investors and regulators.
Now hundreds of billions of dollars (choose your analyst estimate) will be plonked back on to banks’ books, beginning next year, in a victory for accounting transparency and the needs of investors.
Or is it?
To anyone with a passing knowledge of accounting and the Enron scandal, the rhetoric should ring alarm bells.
In other words, they’re still playing the rules and doing the abuse.
Banks rush to rescue of credit card trusts
Record credit card losses are pushing big US banks to come to the rescue of off-balance sheet vehicles they use to transform hundreds of billions of dollars in consumer loans into securities sold to investors.
Which say that the abuse has begun again before the problems of the past have even all emerged into the open, meaning that inevitably more tax payer support will be needed yet.
So what is happening?
It’s a brave person who hypothesises, but what is clear is that the massive boost in confidence ion the City, the return of the bonus culture, the big profits being made, are all indicative of one thing: that those who populate that place are quite sure they have found a new and limitless source of capital with which to play – our money.
The trillions that have been used to shore up the banks so that we continue to have money coming out of cash point machines (because they control that process – which is absurd – as I have pointed out time and again) have not been mislaid, or lost. But nor have they been put to good use. They’ve been used by the City to provide the liquidity they need to trade with each other – a zero sum game notionally undertaken on behalf of clients like pension funds which extracts benefit from our investments made for the future to provide the City with current income.
That’s a giant fraud. It’s why the City booms as our pensions fail: they are the cause of that failure, just as they are becoming the cause of the bankruptcy of our economy. They know that. They carry on just the same: their aim is to redistribute as much tangible wealth as possible in their direction before the next crash happens. And happen it will – because the current activity is just sign of more madness in the City undertaken in pursuit of this goal.
And still we are giving them more, and asking for nothing in return.
When will this madness end?
And do not doubt – behind this madness there is raw politics of power, and that’s a game they’re winning right now. That’s what worries me most.