Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Time for another interesting UK/Greece comparison; we know the established Greek elite is a corrupt bunch of shyster, drachma grabbing tax dodgers – no one likes dodging taxes like a rich Greek it seems.

The Largade list provides powerful evidence of this, it detailing almost 2,000 potential tax dodgers Christine Lagardem when she was the French finance minister, handed to the Greek government in 2010. And what did the then Greek government do with it? Why nothing of course, they sat on it give or take the rumours about the then Greek Finance minister rubbing out the names of some of his relatives who appeared on it. Then in 2012 a Greek journalist was arrested for publishing the list, then set free a few days later.  Pffff, Greeks eh? Utterly bent and corrupt tax dodging bastards.

P.S. the Largarde list was of HSBC Swiss bank customers and was taken from the same dataset used to produce a list of potential (1 in 3 appears to have been the case) British tax dodgers. Obviously, Britain is completely different to Greece, HMRC received an email offering them the HSBC customer data in 2008, years before Greece chose to do nothing.

Monday, 16 February 2015

HSBC vs the ruling class

Galloping inequality is arguably a bad thing because it distances the rich from the rest of society at the same time as giving the disproportionately wealthy a disproportionate influence on the polity (think political party donations, post-ministerial investment bank careers etc.).

One powerful response to this is that as we all - eventually -  benefit from wealth creators thru things like the taxes they pay, inequality is justifiable. Then we found out about HSBC's private bank ………….. (and if you want to find out what having an ruling class that can dodge taxes with impunity does to an economy, just look at Greece)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Squeezing (HSBC's) balloons

Whoop whoop – I’ve just had the misfortune to fly enough times for work to qualify for an airline “executive card”, but more of that later.

Before this week HSBC wasn’t especially famous for its private bank. Money laundering? Yep. Shit US mortgages? That too, but private banking? Nope at least not until Panorama and a whistleblower told us all about the shenanigans it’s been getting up to.

The thing is though while Panorama did focus on one of the big questions – why has only one person been prosecuted in the UK given this was industrial scale tax dodging – it didn’t think about the bigger picture, which includes things like this:

If HSBC has run down its private bank since it got caught the way it says it has – its clients will have gone to other private banks.

There already were (and are) lots of other private banks and private bank divisions – so what about them then?

As for the lack of prosecutions, well lets be serious for a mo and cite a concrete example - investing in UK films was quickly spotted as a way of getting all tax efficient by loads of accountants and bankers, so much so some RBS bankers were arrested relatively recently due to their involvement in one. Anyhoo, the other day the solicitor fucking general was identified as someone who invests in film funds i.e. the great, the good and Gary Barlow all appear to be at it meaning HSBC’s real “crime” was getting caught.

That the guy in charge of HSBC when all its shenanigans was going on got ordained as an Anglican minister i.e. is a moralising fuck, just adds to it all.

As for my executive card – it’s a shit one with no real perks; I need another grade to get all the free food, drink and pampering I can manage; tthe point of me saying this being it was fun seeing some of the upper grade (“class” even)  great and good getting doorstepped on the telly because in their lovely, lovely world no one ever, EVA challenges them.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

weaponised hummus

Don;t know about you, but this eyewitness account from Auschwitz reads like the kind of stuff those horny bastards at the CIA got up to when they were torturing folks.

"aged nine in 1944, remembers being forced to watch a dwarf and a Roma woman being made to have sex."

Going Greek

Comparing the British economy to the Greek was always a dumb thing to do. For one thing, there everybody dodges taxes whereas here its only multinationals and millionaires. For another, Greek government largesse was dished out to everyone, whereas here, via things like the pensioner bond, political parties look after their own. And of course the UK has its own currency.  

But, as the political parties here boast about whose got the biggest, hardest spending cuts, Greece does provide an example of what an unprecendented hacking back of the state in the name of fiscal rectitude looks like – it looks nasty, like  25% unemployment rate nasty, 50% youth unemployment rate nasty (and that’s despite people migrating), heck an economy that’s shrunk around a quarter in 5 years nasty, a quarter! Anyhoo, the Tories are currently proposing spending cuts on what the IFS calls “a colossal scale” *.

*of course other factors have influenced the Greek economy, but hacking back on public spending is a major one that has had similar effects in other countries. See here.