Saving and Gambling

The buying and selling of investments has always been dominated by two different activities with opposing motivations.  Continue reading

The Banking Crisis Continues

The banking crisis has not gone away, but is still with us. Banks have thinly disguised their shortcomings. They are still diseased, even though they have the appearance of modest health. Regulators, at the behest of governments, are trying to cure the patient without killing it. Whether they will succeed remains to be seen. Regulators are prescribing unpleasant medicine which will prevent banks from being as profitable as they once were, in order to try and reduce the risk of bank failure, which is catastrophic not just for the banks and their shareholders, but also for society. Continue reading

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

It seems an odd task for a Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Osborne is off to Brussels to trying to convince the European Community that its plans to restrict bankers’ bonuses to the equivalent of a year’s salary are wrong. The public have rightly identified that the economic problems which followed the bank’s bail out are largely laid at the door of bankers who used our money to gamble, and in gambling lost, as all gamblers do. The bankers were motivated to gamble by huge bonuses, so, the public perceives, anything that makes gambling with l’argent des autres is undesirable and should be restricted. Continue reading

Transaction Taxes

The European Commission has proposed a transaction tax. It is a modest proposal which sets a tax on transfers of shares and bonds of 0.1% payable by the buyer and a tax on derivatives of 0.01%. It is intended to encourage what the commission calls more responsible trading and it should make speculation less attractive. Continue reading

Bank Mis Selling to Small Businesses – Time to Fight Back

My law firm is acting for a number of business clients who have taken the brave step of suing their bankers. Although there has been much made of the bank’s so called mis-selling of personal protection insurance, which is better termed as simple deceit, there has been little publicity given to the plight of what are usually small businesses who have found to their surprise that they have bought all kinds of weird and incomprehensible financial products from their bankers, usually as a condition of a loan arrangement, only to discover to their cost that what they have bought was entirely inappropriate for them of their businesses. Continue reading

Manipulating Wholesale Natural Gas Prices

The news that traders in wholesale gas might well have manipulated gas prices fraudulently is being taken seriously enough to be investigated by OFGEM and the Financial Services Authority. The claim was made by a whistle blower, Seth Freedman, and while we should always presume innocence I am not unsurprised by the claim. Continue reading

A Complicated Life

Life is becoming very complicated, or I am becoming old. As I am wont to do, today I tried to improve my computer but managed stop it working. Perhaps that is an improvement of some kind. It made me realise just how dependent we have become upon the workings of machine that we imperfectly understand powered by energy which we do not directly own. That is quite complicated, but one complication does not matter. You cannot expect everything to be simple. Continue reading