Ida Ince

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

Wealth inequality denial

Ceci n'est pas l'inegalité des fortunes http://www.cbo.gov/publication/42729

In the week a report established that 97.1% of scientists publishing on the subject have concluded that man-​made climate change exists, it seems the right have re-​opened an old front in their war on reality. In Saturday’s Financial Times the normally sober paper appears to have fancied a day masquerading as Fox News as it piled into…

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

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

insolvency

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)

Chimaera

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?

george-osborne-bullingdon

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 […]

GFC2?

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 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…