John Ward – Global Finance: Mad & Bad – Soon To Be Dangerous To Know – 6 December 2012

John WardDo you want today’s mad news, or tomorrow’s bad news?

Gustl Mollath, now 56, was locked up in a high-security psychiatric hospital nearly seven years ago after being accused of making up a story about money laundering activities at major German bank, HVB. It is the sixth-largest private bank in Germany.

But now, new evidence that has been brought to the attention of state prosecutors showing that, surprise surprise, money laundering activities had been conducted over several years by members of staff at the Munich-based bank – according to details of an internal audit report conducted by the bank in 2003.

In a predictable display of psychopathy, a spokeswoman for the bank felt no remorse for Mollath, telling the Guardian, “We don’t recognise any connection between the results of our audit report and either the criminal trial or the commitment of Mr. Mollath.”

A good many connections are indeed hard to make. Like the one between banking expertise, and being Chairman of a Bank.

“I feel awful about it. There are very few days I don’t think about it,” said Lord Stevenson as he questioned by the banking standards commission on his role HBOS’s collapse.

But in actual fact, considering that everything Dennis Stevenson knows about globalist banking could be written on a 5p piece, he didn’t do too badly on the whole. It sort of all rolled past him, until the money was gone.

Before being Top Nob at HBOS, ‘Lord’ Stevenson ran a lobbying consultancy. His partner in its subsidiary market research SRU was Peter York, inventor of the term ‘Sloane Ranger’. As every good banker knows, one simply can’t get those envied banking qualifications these days without the right sort of technical background.

This is perhaps why Stevenson doesn’t chair a ratings agency; although given their output, I think he should apply. Greece’s “voluntary” buyback of the PSI bonds is being carried out in distressed conditions, says the credit ratings agency S&P, and thus she’s in default.

But worry not, because once the country completes the deal on December 12th, Greece will be out of default again.

If countries can jump in and out of default by doing nothing except waiting for the lawyers to declare closure, then anything could happen. For example, the CDU in Germany could elect a former Stasi Youth enthusiast as its leader by an overwhelming margin.

Angela Merkel has been re-elected as chairwoman of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) with almost 98 percent of the vote.

Somebody pass me the backwards watch, I’m late for a very important date. Everyone’s a mad person now, but don’t forget that there’s also the American version of ‘mad’ – as in very angry.

The FT reports that Europe’s most important and significant bank, Deutsche, hid $12 billion in losses during the financial crisis. This got the bank out of having to accept a government bail-out, according to three former bank employees who filed complaints to US regulators.

Rewind tape to SFX giggles offstage about The Slog’s gold/tungsten scam post last week….in which the prime bankster was fingered as…Deutsche. It must be in the genes, I think: as any Greek will tell you (and they’d be right) during their WWII occupation of Helleni, Germany confiscated all the Greek gold. We have yet to see evidence that they ever gave it back.

So everyone’s mad and bad then. But to what degree? Well, Transparency International has decided that Greece now ranks below the drug cartel haven of Colombia and the corruption-riddled African country of Liberia on its chart of bent government. Greece is now the most corrupt country in the European Union, even behind Mafia-dominated Italy, falling from 80th to 94th. Russia came 133rd.

Blimey. TI should spend more time on Wall Street, but does mad and bad mean ‘dangerous to know’? Funny you should ask that, because what do Greece, Italy and Russia all have in common?

They all owe money to RBS.

But hey – in the greater scheme of things, much more worryingly dangerous lunatics are at large.

Britain’s banks, for example, face a financial black hole of up to £60bn from regulatory demands, hidden losses, and potential mis-selling costs that threaten to jeopardise future growth, the Bank of England has warned.

And although Obama’s new derivative safety regulations come into force early next year, Wall Street’s lizards are looking to help offshore clients sidestep the new rules. The global otc derivatives sector is conservatively estimated to be  $640 trillion (some sources think $1.5quadrillion is nearer the mark). That’s an unreal amount of money, in the sense that it’s both many times the size of the global economy, and er not real.

So something of a potentially radioactive isotope then. But nevertheless, U.S. banks such as Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) have been explaining to their foreign customers that they can for now avoid the new rules, due to take effect next month, by routing trades via the banks’ overseas units, according to industry sources and presentation materials obtained by Reuters.

Are these people mad, bad, dangerous to know, all of the foregoing, or simply unbelievably stupid? There is a neurological term for recklessness called ‘frontal lobe behaviour’. I think all of the news items assembled above suggest recklessness to a degree bordering on mass psychopathy. But then I’m just a sloppy gobby blogger, so what would I know?

Last night at The Slog: The con in neoconservative economics

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