Ida Ince

Ida Ince is an independent researcher in critical legal finance and has previously worked for many years in international finance.

Regulatory exceptionalism: the EU short selling ban

dollar's flow in black hole

A much re­marked upon fea­ture of the Global Financial Crisis (‘GFC’) has been the re­course of gov­ern­ments to per­manent states of ex­cep­tion, pur­portedly jus­ti­fied by the need to pro­tect fin­an­cial sta­bility. We have seen everything from prime min­is­ters being heli­coptered in (Romano Prodi), to mon­et­arist central banks buying up bonds and even gilts, to the decision…

Euro Stability Mechanism proposes transfer of Greek assets to Luxembourg


The European Commission has been forced to re­buff a pro­posal by the Eurozone’s new bailout fund, the ESM, that Greek as­sets be trans­ferred to a new Luxembourg-​based spe­cial pur­pose vehicle as a part of a wider privat­isa­tion scheme. The pro­posal, mooted by Finland in 2011, and on the radar of the IMF, was aimed at cut­ting through “Greek bureaucracy”…

Cypriots Discover the Debt Jubilee

ATM Out of Service

Come again? Cypriots dis­cover the debt ju­bilee? Well yes ac­tu­ally, that is ba­sic­ally how de­pos­itors at Cypriot banks have been treated by the Troika, even if the de­cision to grab up to 9.9% of cash de­posits to fin­ance a bail out of the fin­ance sector is being presented as a tax or levy. To un­der­stand this we…

The Amazon Archipelago

Amazon facility Bad Hersfeld

On Wed­nes­day night prime Ger­man tele­vi­sion chan­nel ARD broad­cast under­cover report­age con­cern­ing the treat­ment of for­eign work­ers at Amazon’s huge dis­tri­bu­tion ware­house near Bad Hersfeld in cent­ral Ger­many. State par­lia­ment­ari­ans called the re­port “unspeak­able”, “shock­ing”, “bey­ond the pale”, and the Left Party spokes­per­son stated:

“We call on the state gov­ern­ment to carry out promptly and with all at its dis­posal checks of the complainant’s so­cial secur­ity fraud, the use of an appar­ent neo-​Nazi secur­ity com­pany through Amazon and the inhu­mane place­ment in a so-​called ‘resort’”.

Bad Hersfeld backs up against the old bor­der with East Ger­many at the point, the Fulda Gap, which the US determ­ined was the prime stra­tegic entry point for Soviet forces in any inva­sion of Europe. As a con­sequence this wooded up-​country be­came a back­wa­ter of barbed wire and check­points after the war. It is here that Amazon has had built one of its massive dis­tri­bu­tion centres for Ger­many, and it is here that under­cover report­ers infiltrated.

The Wealth Clock

Wealth Clock

A group of German trades unions, aca­demics, and mil­it­ants have at­tempted to seize back the clock as a powerful mode of polit­ical ex­pres­sion with their “Wealth Clock”. It seems to be a direct re­sponse to the re­l­ative suc­cess of the US’s National Debt Clock, in­sti­tuted in the late 80s by prop­erty de­veloper Seymour Durst, in im­pressing into the public con­scious­ness the claimed ur­gency of dealing with the US na­tional debt, as a route to neo­lib­eral aus­terity measures. Leaving aside the many ar­gu­ments that can be lev­elled against Durst’s fears, the image of a con­stant up-​ticking of a na­tional debt has had its echoes in European states, not least Britain and Germany as flag-​bearers for austerity.

A Bailout of the People by the People – Will it Work?

You're not aloan

From 15 November 2012, a part of the Occupy Movement in the U.S. led by Strike Debt will be op­er­ating a “Rolling Jubilee” which their web­site de­scribes as:

“A bailout of the people by the people.

We buy debt for pen­nies on the dollar, but in­stead of col­lecting it, we ab­olish it. We cannot buy spe­cific in­di­viduals’ debt — in­stead, we help lib­erate debtors at random through a cam­paign of mu­tual sup­port, good will, and col­lective refusal.”

David Graeber, for ex­ample, has been tweeting about this en­thu­si­ast­ic­ally and the Rolling Jubilee Facebook page has a pic­ture of Slavoj Zizek holding the linked “Strike Debt” logo and a state­ment claiming that he too sup­ports the cam­paign. My ini­tial re­ac­tion to the plan was open-​minded be­muse­ment and a ques­tion which I see keeps re­cur­ring on the Rolling Jubilee FB page: “How does this work?.”

In Germany insolvency law becomes financialised


The Amendment of the German Bankruptcy Act,1 which came into ef­fect six months ago, has opened the door to wide­spread abuse al­leges the in­dustry as­so­ci­ation VID, which claims to rep­resent more than half of li­quid­ators. “A few in­flu­en­tial and wealthy cred­itors now threaten to dom­inate pro­ceed­ings”, the VID chairman Christoph Niering said in Berlin. “In addition,…

LIBOR (and other mythical beasts)


Martin Wheatley, British fin­an­cial reg­u­lator charged with solving the LIBOR crisis, has re­turned from his Crusade car­rying, we are told, a splinter of the True Cross which he as­sures us is cap­able of pro­curing mir­acles. Not common or garden mir­acles in­volving the lame, Galilean fish stocks, or talking asses, no. Something really im­pressive: an­noun­cing the actual…

Finance’s contribution to GDP — another sleight of hand?

Man Ray - Hands

Yesterday’s pub­lic­a­tion of fur­ther dismal GDP data for the UK is an op­por­tunity to re­con­sider its basis as the jus­ti­fic­a­tion for many as­pects of the cur­rent neo­lib­eral order. Bracketing out the ques­tion of whether eco­nomic growth is a valid lode­star for any just so­ciety, there comes the old but under-​frequented ques­tion1 about what con­sti­tutes growth and…

Securitisation outfit fined USD125m for obtaining false credit ratings

Mizuho Bank Head Office in Tokyp

In my pre­vious post I asked some­what rhet­or­ic­ally what else banks had felt able to do during the credit crunch if the be­lief had arisen that “market sta­bility” (sc. bank sur­vival”) trumped crim­inal law. The U.S. Securities and Exchnage Commission (“SEC”) has ob­li­gingly provided an ex­ample. Yesterday (19 July 2012) the Securities and Exchange Commission charged…

LIBOR: City absolutism and raison de marché

Peter the Great shaves his courtiers

What’s the dif­fer­ence between Monaco and the City of London? One is a micro-​territory gov­erned by ab­so­lute fiat, hol­lowed out by prop­erty spec­u­la­tion, gambling, and the con­ceal­ment of great crimes of wealth, and the other is Monaco. In case your won­dering, Monaco does have branches of HSBC and Barclays, and, if you need any­thing tricky sorting out,…

The legal market has its Lehman Bros. moment

A lawyer leaving Dewey & LeBoeuf's New York offices for the last time

As part­ners and as­so­ci­ates of 190 equity partner US law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf filed out of their 6th Ave. New York of­fice, card­board boxes of desk clutter in hand, one could not help no­ti­cing the sim­il­ar­ities with the im­ages of the col­lapse of Lehman Bros. The su­per­fi­cial sim­il­arity is not merely os­tens­ible, how­ever; the…

What follows farce?


At this week’s UK Treasury Select Committee hearing on the Budget of 2012, at­tendees were in­vited to draw par­al­lels between George Osborne’s view of eco­nomics and the mil­itary stratagems of Field Marshall Haig. It seems that the British Chancellor of the Exchequer has fol­lowed Haig in be­lieving that the best way to con­found one’s enemies…

The Muppet Show

A Goldman Sachs client (apparently)

Greg Smith’s resig­na­tion letter in the New York Times yes­terday, an­noun­cing a bridge-​burning de­par­ture from his po­s­i­tion as Executive Director of Goldman Sachs’ Equity Derivatives Division (Europe, Asia, Africa) cer­tainly brought Wall St. to a re­l­ative halt. GS can­celled con­fer­ence calls and the Goldman Flacks (PR goons) were rounded up to pour scorn on Mr. Smiths al­leg­a­tions as “unrecognisable”.

The im­port­ance of the letter was not so much it’s rev­el­a­tion of a eat-​what-​you-​kill cul­ture in which cli­ents are the main course, not even the con­ten­tion that somehow GS had changed cul­ture — it hadn’t any more than any other in­vest­ment bank since the Big Bang. The letter was im­portant be­cause it ef­fect­ively took GS cli­ents’ faces and slammed them against the res­taurant window, through which they could now see their GS con­tact en­gaged in an­thro­po­phagia between raucous tales of how the cur­rent dish had of its own vo­li­tion signed up to sit on the plate […]


Devouring Self

The in­ev­it­ab­ility with which global mar­kets would fall off their to-​date un­real­istic levels did nothing to mol­lify the depth and panic of the spasms. It has be­come a truism that nothing in the struc­ture of in­ter­na­tional fin­ance has changed, save that the losses of private banks had been so­cial­ised, leading to the great weight of legal…

A Short Legal History of the Credit Crunch — Part 4 of 4

Luzern totentanz Ritterscherpalast

The suf­fering spreads Our no­tional executive’s as­sump­tion about how in­dustry would help the banks and the eco­nomy out of the Credit Crunch was in one ele­ment cor­rect. Borrowers had bailed out the banks, but it was only by means of workers’ re­dund­an­cies, the strip­ping of the products of their la­bour, and in not a few cases an…

A Short Legal History of the Credit Crunch — Part 3 of 4

Matsijs, Quentin, The Moneylender and his Wife

At whatever time our in­dus­trial bor­rower first took on the credit agree­ment with which it found it­self, in 2009, chained and broken be­fore its fin­an­cial mas­ters, it is likely it only had a vague ink­ling that anyone beyond its re­la­tion­ship bank was, or was to be, in­volved. It is an issue that de­pends on the size of…

A Short Legal History of the Credit Crunch — Part 2 of 4

Quentin Metsys - The Moneylenders

With the Credit Crunch in the fin­ance sector now causing de­le­ter­ious ef­fects in the ‘real’ eco­nomy (see Part 1), con­cerned Finance Directors (“FDs”) turned to their re­la­tion­ship banks with a view to agreeing how best to muddle through what ap­peared to be a tem­porary dip caused by a problem in the ar­cane world of credit de­riv­at­ives. Initial conversations…

A Short Legal History of the Credit Crunch — Part 1 of 4

Quentin Metsys - The moneylenders

In this series of four art­icles this week I ex­amine the course of the Credit Crunch from the per­spective of the in­ter­face between the hyper-​financialised world of col­lat­eral debt ob­lig­a­tions and se­cur­it­isa­tion, and the more fa­miliar world of in­dus­trial cor­porate debt. It is at this nexus that many of the sub­sequent de­vel­op­ments in the world eco­nomy can…