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Tobin Tax proposed by Europe
Bonus tax spreading to France and Germany
London Bankers to be hit with bonus super-tax
Michael 'Fingers' Fingleton & the Irish Nationwide
Can Sir Fred be sued?
 Ian Tomlinson G20 assault filmed by fund manager
What's on Sir Fred's iPod?
 Tent City, USA
AIG execs to receive bonuses of $165 million
The US Hall of Shame
City financier spends 65K in London Club
Cherie Blair hired to sue RBS and Sir Fred Goodwin
Britain's Conservatives profit from recession
 Goodwin refuses, again, to give back his pension
Obama finds only banker Americans aren't mad at
John Thain's Wastebasket

Tent City, USA

Tent cities are springing up across the U.S. as victims of the recession are evicted from their homes. Meanwhile, former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain spent $1.22 million of company money redecorating his office.

Tent City, USA
John Thain spent $35,000 on a "commode on legs"

More here...

Vandals attack Sir Fred Goodwin's mansion

Goodwin vandal attack

Vandals attacked the luxury home of disgraced former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO Sir Fred Goodwin early this morning (25/3/09). Windows were smashed and a Mercedes S600 parked in the grounds was damaged. This comes 24 hours after it was revealed that his former employers still pay to insure Sir Fred's fleet of luxury cars - two Ferrari’s, a Range Rover Vogue, a Rover 45, a Jaguar S-Type, a Triumph Stag, and the Mercedes damaged today.

Goodwin vandal attack - car

A police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we attended at an address in Oswald Road at 4.35am. Inquiries are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact the police.”

Goodwin - House condemns the attack and encourages readers to respond to the banking crisis through legal and ethical means.

Andrew Cuomo: 'Let the sun shine in'

Andrew Cuomo - Bonus-Buster

While politicians dithered, regulators sat on their hands, and bankers paid vast sums to each other for wrecking the economy, one man has emerged as something of a hero: New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo. First he went after Bank of America, forcing them to name who received $3.6 billion in bonuses paid by Merrill Lynch. Then he persued the hated AIG through the courts, forcing them to name who received $165 million in bonuses in March 2009. The AIG bonuses led to news placards on New York streets reading "A.I.G. is a P.I.G." (see below).

Bank of America and AIG fought to keep the names secret. AIG now claims there are "security concerns" about the release of the names. If they returned the money, and said sorry, is it possible such concerns might diminish?

Attorney General Cuomo stated on March 18th 2009:

"Today’s decision in the Bank of America case is a victory for taxpayers. Let the sun shine in. Justice Fried’s decision will now lift the shroud of secrecy surrounding the $3.6 billion in premature bonuses Merrill Lynch rushed out in early December. Taxpayers demand and deserve transparency and now they will finally get it. Bank of America chose litigation over transparency and we are gratified that this tactic has failed. AIG should take heed and immediately turn over the list of bonus recipients we have subpoenaed. The deadline for responding to our subpoena is tomorrow. More litigation is not the answer - it is time for AIG to come clean."

Obama compares AIG to a suicide bomber

Obama - Orange County

At a town-hall meeting on Wednesday (18/3/09) in Orange County, California, President Obama compared AIG to a suicide bomber. He said: "It was the right thing to do to step in. Here's the problem. It's almost like they've got - they got a bomb strapped to them, and they've got their hand on the trigger. You don't want them to blow up, but you got to kind of talk them - ease that finger off the trigger."

Total Banker

Obama's appearance, in the heart of Republican territory, generated frenzied excitement. People camped out 20 hours to hear him. The crowd thundered "Obama! Obama!" and punctuated his speech with the call-and-response of a church service, with cries of "that's right" and "yes!" The fairground is usually the site of gun shows.

Senator tells AIG execs: "commit suicide"

AIG is a PIG

During an interview on Monday (16/3/09) with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station, Republican Senator Charles Grassley proposed that AIG executives commit suicide.

AIG is a PIG

"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," the good Senator said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide. And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."


Osama bin Goodwin

Sir Fred Goodwin

The world's worst banker, Sir Fred Goodwin, could be branded an economic terrorist and have his assets seized if Members of the Scottish Parliament get their way. The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 permits the UK government to seize assets from individuals or organisations it believes have acted in a way that is detrimental to the UK economy. In 2008 ministers used the legislation to freeze the UK assets of collapsed Icelandic bank, Landsbanki. Dr Bill Wilson, MSP for the West of Scotland, is seeking to use the same powers to seize Goodwin’s home, his two Ferraris and and his 2,000 a day pension.

US taxpayers to hand AIG Fat Cats $165 million


Will US lawmakers do their job?

Cherie Blair hired to sue RBS and Sir Fred Goodwin

Tony & Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minsiter Tony Blair, has been hired to sue the Royal Bank of Scotland. Two UK pension funds have asked the US courts to compensate them for the losses they incurred when the bank 'falsely reassured' investors the bank was in good health when it was 'effectively insolvent'.

The class action lawsuit names RBS and its entire board of directors, including the former chairman Sir Tom McKillop, as defendants. It is open to all European and US investors in RBS to join. Mrs Blair is working alongside Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, the Californian law firm, which secured $7 billion in compensation for Enron investors.

Cookbook or cooked books?

Ruth & Bernard Madoff

Court papers reveal that Ruth Madoff, wife of Bernard Madoff who is accused of a $50 billion Ponzi scheme fraud, claims to own $70 million worth of assets:

New York City penthouse - $8 million
Municipal bonds - $45 million
Cash on deposit - $17 million

"That's really ridiculous," said Brad Friedman, an attorney for Madoff investors. "The only thing she's ever done to earn money for herself is, I think I heard that she wrote a cookbook."

In February, the Massachusetts state regulator said Ruth Madoff withdrew $15.5 million in the weeks before her husband's arrest from Cohmad Securities Corp, a brokerage partly owned by Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

Prosecutors may wish to ask Ms Madoff why she held most of her assets in municipal bonds rather than in her husband's scheme? His securities, so-called, returned 10% or better annually, on a consistent basis. Her's returned perhaps 3%. What did she see in her husband's investments which persuaded her to take 7% less every year?

Ruth Madoff's Cookbook

PUKEBONDS take a hit

Heidi's Bar

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Berlin. In order to increase sales, she decides to allow her loyal customers - most of whom are unemployed alcoholics - to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around and as a result increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar.

Taking advantage of her customers' freedom from immediate payment constraints, Heidi increases her prices for wine and beer, the most-consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Heidi's borrowing limit.

He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert bankers transform these customer assets into DRINKBONDS, ALKBONDS and PUKEBONDS.

These securities are then traded on markets worldwide. No one really understands what these abbreviations mean and how the securities are guaranteed. Nevertheless, as their prices continuously climb, the securities become top-selling items.

One day, although the prices are still climbing, a risk manager (subsequently of course fired due his negativity) of the bank decides that the time has come to demand payment of the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar.

However they cannot pay back the debts.

Heidi cannot fulfil her loan obligations and claims bankruptcy.

DRINKBOND and ALKBOND drop in price by 95%. PUKEBOND performs better, stabilizing in price after dropping by 80%.

The suppliers of Heidi's bar, having granted her generous payment due dates and having invested in the securities, are faced with a new situation. Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor.

The bank is saved by the Government following dramatic round-the-clock consultations by leaders from the governing political parties. The funds required for this purpose are obtained by a tax levied on non-drinkers.

The bank's Chairman is permitted to resign, as opposed to being fired, and is therefore entitled to a pension of 703,000 p.a. for life from age fifty.

Coutts on the Riviera

British Royal Family

Is it raining cesh?

Coutts, the Queen's banker, is hosting a cocktail reception on the Riviera this week (12 March) for clients attending the MIPIM property developers' conference. Coutts is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, itself 70%-owned by the British state. RBS has recorded the biggest loss in UK corporate history.

RBS Coutts – the bank’s international wing – has offices in offshore tax avoidance centres such as Switzerland, Singapore, the Cayman Islands and Jersey. It seems an odd arrangement - the British government part-owning a bank whose customers, the super-rich, use the bank's services to avoid paying tax to the British Treasury.

A Coutts cash machine is in the basement of Buckingham Palace.

Punk Rock

Adam Applegarth

Adam Applegarth, former chief executive of Northern Rock received a 'golden goodbye' of nearly 900,000, accounts revealed yesterday. He walked away with a year's salary of 760,000, despite bringing the 158-year-old bank to the brink of collapse. Taxpayers also poured 109,000 into Mr Applegarth's retirement pot following his dismissal in late 2007, the annual accounts show.

Vince Cable, Liberal Treasury spokesman, said: 'In many ways, he is worse than Fred Goodwin. This is somebody who actively encouraged thousands of people to borrow beyond their means, many of whom are now facing homelessness and destitution.'

Applegarth will be entitled to 305,000 a year when he reaches 60. Were he to buy such a pension today, it would cost more than 2.5million, experts said.

Andy Kuipers

Applegarth's replacement, Andy Kuipers, was handed a 'golden goodbye' of 708,000.

Bryan Sanderson

Former chairman Bryan Sanderson, who was drafted in to help find a private sector buyer in late 2007, gained a severance package of 340,000 - 85,000 for each of the four months he worked at the bank.

Ann Godbehere

Former finance director Ann Godbehere claimed 173,000 in expenses last year commuting between her home in Switzerland and the UK every week. She earned 959,000 - adding in her 786,000 pay packet - for about ten months' work.

Petition to strip Sir Fred Goodwin of his knighthood

Petition to strip Sir Fred Goodwin of his knighthood


City Boy's Bar Bill

A city financier spent 65k in a London club on 21 Feb. The bill includes 37,500 for lap dancers and 50 for five bottles of water. (The London Paper, 4/3/09)

Sir Fred Sings in the Bath

Sir Fred Goodwin

What's on Fred's iPod?

Sir Fred Goodwin retires on 703,000 a year

Former RBS chief executive, Sir Fred Goodwin, boosted his pension despite the bank posting the largest corporate loss in UK history under his watch. It means he is already drawing a pension for life of 703,000 a year from age 50. Sir Fred’s payment, which almost doubles to 16m the 8.4m his pension had earned by 2007 after 10 years on the board, was agreed by the previous management. An RBS spokesman said: “The company is taking further legal advice in respect of certain aspects of Sir Fred Goodwin’s contractual arrangements". Source

The share price, when he became CEO of RBS, in January 2001, was 442p. On the day his departure was announced it was 65.70p

Sir Fred Goodwin

Sir Fred Goodwin, knighted by the Queen for 'services to banking.'

Goodwin Letter (1)

Letter from Sir Fred Goodwin to Lord Myners, refusing to give the money back.

Goodwin Letter (2)

RBS accounts prove the bank was not obliged to pay Sir Fred a 703,000 pension with immediate effect. The rules of its pension fund are that it was allowed to do so but it didn't have to. (Robert Peston, BBC News, 26/2/09)


Goodwin's pension would pay the annual state pension for some 150 UK pensioners

Fraud of the Day (1)

Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh, arrested in New York this week, are accused of defrauding investors of at least $553 million through a long-running scheme in which their firms, including Westridge Capital Management, claimed steady, safe returns. The SEC complaint said spending included multimillion-dollar homes, cars and collectibles, all part of a scheme to use client money "as their personal piggy-bank to furnish lavish and luxurious lifestyles." They spent as much as $80,000 on mohair Steiff teddy bears.

On Thursday, some residents of North Salem, N.Y., a town of 5,000 in an affluent, rural stretch of Westchester County, were reeling over the arrest of Mr. Greenwood. He serves as the town's supervisor, the equivalent of mayor.

Wall Street Journal, 27/2/09

Paul Greenwood
Paul Greenwood leaving court

Fraud of the Day (2)

James Nicholson, a New Jersey fund manager, was accused of cheating investors out of as much as $900 million since 2004. Prosecutors described it as “an egregious fraud of immense proportions”. Investigators in New York said the fraud was discovered after several investors tried to redeem money from Mr Nicholson’s Westgate Capital Fund after hearing of the alleged $50 billion fraud by Bernard Madoff.

Daily Telegraph, 26/2/09

Mohair Steiff Teddy Bear

Images/Andy Hornby

Andy Hornby, former chief executive of HBOS. "I don't think I am particularly personally culpable." (Treasury Select Committee, 10/2/09)

Eric Daniels

Eric Daniels, Lloyds Banking Group chief executive. Claimed his 1 million wage was a "modest salary". (Treasury Select Committee, 10/2/09)

Sir James Crosby

Sir James Crosby, former chief executive of HBOS. former advisor to Gordon Brown, former deputy chairman of the Financial Services Authority, sacked a whistleblower (Paul Moore) who warned he was leading HBOS “to the precipice”. Sir James was knighted in 2006 for "services to the finance industry".

House of Lords

"But what a feeder club the City has been, with Labour having given 23 bankers honours since 1997. Four of them scored life peerages, and seven were knighted. Three were made government ministers, two appointed to senior posts within Downing Street, 10 have been placed on eminent councils, seven on agencies and quangos, while just the 37 have been drafted in to head up taskforces, or sit on commissions and advisory bodies." (Marina Hyde, Guardian, 14/2/09)

Peter Cummings

Peter Cummings was HBOS's highest paid director in 2008, earning a salary of 666,000 and a 1.3m bonus. He was ousted last month, taking "early retirement" with a pension pot of 6million and a pay-off of another 666,000. It's believed Cummings could be in Spain, where he is understood to own a 4m mansion near Marbella. In December, Cummings reportedly told a bankers' dinner: "I make no apology for driving social infrastructure bank-speak for housing developments in a way that would also drive shareholder value." (Sunday Mirror, 15/2/09)

The Mad Banker

"So," said Alice to the Mad Banker, "let me get this right. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which lost 28bn and is kept from bankruptcy by taxpayers' money, will pay staff 1bn in bonuses; people at the organisation that looks after government cash in bailed-out banks will get bonuses; so will staff at the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the very people charged with reining in bonus culture; and Merrill Lynch, which lost $27bn (19bn) last year, will pay $3.6bn in bonuses and make instant millionaires of no fewer than 700 staff?" The Mad Banker puffed out his chest. "Correct," he said. "More tea?" (Independent on Sunday, 15/2/09)

Paul Moore

Paul Moore, HBOS head of group risk between 2002 and 2005, said he and his team “experienced threatening behavior by executives” when they warned that the bank was putting stability at risk. Crosby, then HBOS chief executive officer, fired him Moore said (Bloomberg, 11/2/09)

Goldman Sachs

A guessing game swept the City: who is the Goldman Sachs banker who picked up the $100m bonus? The American investment bank is known to have paid one of its London partners the colossal sum - possibly the biggest bonus in City history, equivalent to 51m. (, 20 December 2006)

Sir Tom McKillop

Sir Tom McKillop, former RBS Chairman, paid 750,000 in 2007. (Reuters, 10/2/09)

Lord Dennis Stevenson

Lord Dennis Stevenson, former HBOS Chairman, paid 1.39 million last year (Reuters, 10/2/09). Henry Dennistoun "Dennis" Stevenson, Baron Stevenson, CBE, DL (born 19 July 1945) was created a life peer as Baron Stevenson of Coddenham, of Coddenham in the County of Suffolk in 1999 having previously been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1981. He sits on the cross-benches in the House of Lords. He was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, and King's College, Cambridge. (Wikipedia)

Images/Lloyds Bank

Lloyds Banking Group plans to pay 120m in bonuses to staff. The bank has taken 17 billion from the taxpayer and admitted last week that it will clock up losses of more than 10 billion as a result of its takeover of HBOS. The government, which already owns 43% of the bank, may be forced to take a majority stake, or nationalise it entirely. (Sunday Times, 15/2/09)

Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch's top four bonus recipients received a combined $121 million just before the firm was acquired by Bank of America, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Merrill reported Jan. 16 that it lost $15.31 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007 and $27 billion for the year. (Bloomberg, 11/2/09)

Stanley O'Neal

Stanley O'Neal, former Merrill Lynch CEO, left the company on November 1, 2007 with about $161 million worth of stock options and retirement benefits. (Wikipedia)

Robert Diamond

Robert Diamond, head of Barclay's investment banking arm. Salary: 250,000. Bonus 6.5m. (Observer, 15/2/09)

Lloyd Blankfein

Lloyd Blankfein
, Goldman Sachs CEO. Paid $68.5m in 2007. (Observer, 15/2/09)

Kenneth Lewis

Kenneth Lewis
, Bank of America CEO. Paid $16.4 million in 2007. (Observer, 15/2/09)

Lord Turner

Jonathan Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, 
head of the Financial Services Authority, refused to give a direct apology for the FSA's failures (BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, 15/2/09). Following his appointment, the FSA did not disclose Lord Turner’s salary. His pay is likely to be similar to the 433,000 earned in 2007 by his predecessor (Times Online, 31/1/09)

Financial Services Authority

FSA Executives are in line for up to 33 million of bonuses this year. (Times Online, 13/2/09)

Hector Sants

Hector Sants, FSA Chief Executive, paid 662,000, including a 114,000 bonus, in 2007-8.


Petition against RBS bonuses, signed by 31,000 people on 16/2/09. Link to petition

Blythe Masters

Blythe Masters, the Englishwoman who built financial 'weapons of mass destruction.' Masters, with an elite group at JP Morgan, developed many of the credit derivatives intended to remove risk from companies' balance sheets. The banks argued that by trading credit derivatives of the kind pioneered by Masters, they spread the risk elsewhere and therefore needed lower reserves to protect against loan defaults. (Guardian, 20 September 2008)

John Mack

John Mack, Morgan Stanley chief executive, received $40.2 million in stock and options for his performance in 2006 plus $800,000 in salary and $336,000 in above-market returns on deferred compensation. He also received perks of nearly $400,000, primarily for personal use of the company jet. (, February 28 2008)

Vikram Pandit

Vikram Pandit, Citygroup chief executive, received about $165.2 million in connection with the sale of Old Lane Partners, the investment firm that Citigroup bought in 2007 to lure him to the company. Pandit received an additional $2.7 million in annual pay in the roughly six months he led Citigroup's investment bank. In January 2008 Pandit was given a sign-on grant of stock and performance-based options worth more than $48 million, bringing the total to at least $216 million. (International Herald Tribune, 14/3/08)

Jamie Dimon

Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan chief executive: 'Despite taking home some $44.4 million (22.2 million) a year in salary, Dimon is known for eschewing the vulgarity of excessive wealth.' Source

Richard Fuld

Richard Fuld, disgraced chief executive of Lehman Brothers, transferred ownership of a $14 million Florida mansion to his wife for $100 (70) on 10 November 2008, according to Marin County real estate records.

Richard Fuld - Mansion

The 3 acre property is one of five homes owned by the Fulds. Henry Waxman, a Democrat Congressman, calculated that Mr Fuld collected $480 million in compensation in eight years at Lehman Brothers. (Times Online, 27/1/09)

Lehman Brothers Jet

The Lehman Brothers jet, a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express. Oprah has the same model.

Richard Pym

Richard Pym, Bradford & Bingley Chairman. Annual salary: 750,000. Guaranteed bonus (paid regardless of performance): 326,000. Bradford & Bingley was nationalised in September 2008.

Sir Allen Stanford

Sir Allen Stanford has run off. At the centre of 6.5bn criminal allegations, Sir Allen, the only Texan ever to be knighted, is nowhere to be found. He is reported to have tried to board a private jet at Houston yesterday (18/2/09) but his credit card bounced. 

Update: Sir Allen has been found. The FBI tracked him down to Fredericksburg, Virginia, and served him with papers detailing charges of fraud totalling $9.2 billion. Meanwhile, callers to the numerous Stanford offices across the US were greeted with a recorded message: “This office is temporarily closed. Have a great day.”

US Marshal

Banker Bar Bill

Bernard Madoff

The first public meeting with creditors was held in New York on 20 February in the Bernard Madoff alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Reacting to angry investors demanding that the bankruptcy trustee also go after Madoff family members' personal assets, David Sheehan, a lawyer for the trustee, said his staff is "looking at every Madoff family member and every insider associated with the Madoff firm." (Boston Globe, 21/2/09)

Madoff Ceditors

Madoff creditors in New York on 20 February 2009

Madoff House

Bernard Madoff's Montauk oceanfront house

Manolo Blahnik Shoes

Goldman Sachs set aside $16.5 billion for salaries, bonuses and benefits for employees in 2006 -- an average of over $600,000 per employee. Some senior executives received $100 million. What to do with a $100 million bonus?

 Buy a Rolls Royce every day of the week and still have more than $97 million left over

 Provide immunizations for 40,000 impoverished children for a year ($37.5 million)

 Feed about 800,000 children for a year ($60 million)

 Recreate the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes and Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston weddings four times over ($16 million)

 Buy one of Mel Gibson's private islands ($15 million), and still remain a millionaire nine times over

 Pay Harvard tuition for more than 1,500 students ($70.5 million)

 Provide health care to over 1,000 Americans for a year ($7 million), and still have enough to buy a different Brioni designer suit for every single day of the year ($6,000 suits for all 365 days would cost $22 million)

 Take everyone in the country of Grenada to a Broadway show, then buy the most expensive apartment in New York City (a triplex penthouse at the Pierre Hotel, $70 million), and still have an extra $15 million dollars in your pocket -- over 300 times the median income of the average American household

 Buy every person in Kansas City a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes (147,000 pairs of $400 shoes comes out to about $60 million) and still have $40 million dollars left -- that's more than 500 times the average doctor's salary in the United States (about $80,000)

 Buy 1,000 gala tables at your favorite charity's ball ($10 million), provide winter blankets for 350,000 children in developing countries ($14 million), personally pay Derek Jeter's salary for a year ($21 million), and still buy your own private Boeing jet ($55 million)

Fail to insure Jennifer Lopez's backside -- rumoured to be worth $1 billion.

(ABC News, 13/12/06)

Private Jet

Five companies which received a combined $120 billion in US government cash injections -- Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley -- still own private jets, according to regulatory filings and interviews. (China Daily, 22/12/98)

Private Eye

(Private Eye, 20/2/09)


"Words pop in and out of our language as social conditions change. The American gangster, which is still with us, has been around as a noun and a reality since 1896 according to my Shorter Oxford, but it seems to have dropped another Americanism from the 1930s and I think now is the time to revive it.

The word is bankster, derived by a marriage of banker and gangster.

It was coined, as far as I can deduce, by an American immigrant, a fiery Sicilian-born lawyer by the name of Ferdinand Pecora. He was the chief counsel to the US Senate Committee on Banking set up in the early 30s to probe the origins of the Crash of 1929.

He exposed quite a lot of the Wall Street practices that Harvard's Professor William Z Ripley had condemned in 1928. The believable Ripley called them - get ready for these Americanisms - "prestidigitation, double-shuffling, honey-fugling, hornswoggling and skullduggery".

The professor had vainly tried to warn President Calvin Coolidge that Wall Street was full of gas and was bound to blow up. To great discomfort all round, Pecora identified Coolidge himself, by then out of office, as one of those who'd been in on the honey-fugling.

The great banking house of JP Morgan had the president on a "preferred list" by which the bank's influential friends were given a chance to buy stock at half price. Shall we say, they made out like bandits?

Today the term bankster perfectly fits Bernard Madoff, whose crooked Ponzi scheme lost $50 billion of what the trade calls OPM - other people's money - invested with him."

BBC News Magazine, 30 January 2009

Ferdinand Pecora
Ferdinand Pecora

Sir Ken Macdonald lambasts bankers

The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, said today: "If you mug someone in the street and you are caught, the chances are that you will go to prison. In recent years, mugging someone out of their savings or their pension would probably earn you a yacht.”

Sir Ken said more:

No one in Britain has any confidence that fraud in the banks will be prosecuted.” He then questioned whether legislators understand financial wrongdoing and the “wreckage it brings”.

Do they really believe that an illiterate, mother-of-five drug mule from a village in Gambia should be serving five times the sentence of a millionaire City fraudster?”

Sir Ken calls for fewer laws on terrorism and attacking people's right to speak frankly and freely. There should be more laws to “confront the clever people who have done their best to steal our economy”. He adds: “If the Government really wants to protect people, beyond armoured-vest posturing, here is the opportunity.”

(Times Online, 23/2/09)

Harriet Harman - Armoured Vest
Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party, in a stab-proof vest

Northern Rock reports loss of 1.4bn - and plans to reward top executives

Northern Rock, nationalised after it made a 1.4 billion loss, said yesterday that 100 senior executives were eligible for the 2008 bonus scheme. "It is essential that the Company can recruit and retain good people," the bank said in a statement. "Senior individuals who are important to the Company's future will receive a deferred bonus award for 2008."

TimesOnline, 24/2/09

Northern Rock

Bad Idea of 2008

Alexandre Mouradian, a 38-year-old trader with the Paris-based Tradition Securities and Futures, is suing his employers, claiming they shortchanged him over 92,571 of the 1.32m bonus he awarded himself from a bonus pool two years ago.

Mouradian, who earns 1.6m as head of the company's exchange-traded options desk, has brought his case to the court of appeal under the Employment Rights Act, which prohibits the unlawful deduction of an employee's wages. 

Guardian, 22/10/08
Pigs at Trough

Obama finds the only banker Americans aren't mad at

In his first address to Congress (24/2/09) President Obama mentioned Leonard Abess, a bank president from Miami who, President Obama said, "cashed out his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn't tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, 'I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old.  I didn't feel right getting the money myself.' " Leonard Abess started his career in the bank's print shop, which made forms and documents. Working his way up the ladder gave him an appreciation for the role employees play in the success of an enterprise.

''I saw that if the president doesn't come to work, it's not a big deal,'' he said. ``But if the tellers don't show up, it's a serious problem.''

Leonard Abess
Leonard Abess, honoured by President Obama

London ~ Reykjavk on Thames

Unemployment is rising twice as fast in Britain as the European average. Two million people have lost their jobs, a number that could rise to three million by the end of the year. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the British economy will shrink by 2.8 percent in 2009, the greatest projected decline among the seven largest industrialized nations.

Someone in Great Britain loses their home once every seven minutes. The British welfare state, its reach narrowed by a succession of reforms, only offers about 60 ($85) a week in unemployment benefits to those who have been laid off.

The current widespread loathing of bankers has reached levels reminiscent of the year 1720. That was when the "South Sea Bubble," one of the first speculative bubbles in history, burst, and a parliamentary inquiry suggested sewing the guilty into sacks filled with poisonous snakes and tossing them into the Thames River.

British private households, having accumulated 1.5 trillion ($2.1 trillion) in debt, are at the leaders in Europe.

More than 20 years ago, then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher broke apart or privatized ailing traditional industries like shipping, mining and automobile manufacturing. Thatcher made it clear that the future, in her eyes, lay in a deregulated financial industry that would emulate the United States, which she considered Britain's role model.

U.S. investment giants like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley set up shop in the British capital, and major continental European financial institutions like Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse made London a center of their investment banking businesses.

When Tony Blair came into power in 1997, his Labor government did not reverse any of Thatcher's neoliberal reforms. On the contrary, Labor even loosened the reins on the financial caste a little further.

Its approach was one of "light-touch regulation," which removed onerous restrictions and reduced taxes on capital gains. London became the private equity and hedge fund capital of the world. Bonus payments jumped from 1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) to 8.5 billion ($12.1 billion) over 10 years of Labor government.

"What is happening now is like the fall of the Berlin Wall," says author Tony Parsons. "People look at this ideology and realize that it hasn't worked. We cannot have unregulated capitalism. We cannot tell these people to do as they wish, and hope that a lot of money comes out in the process."

"Thatcher had riots in the streets with three million unemployed. Gordon Brown, or David Cameron, will experience the same thing." And those who do have money, like Parsons himself, will soon be pleased about the security guards they have in front of their houses.

This view of Britain causes frayed nerves in British government circles. When the head of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, claimed recently that the British economy was in a spiral of decline, Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, responded: "Who the f*** is he? How the hell are they [Starbucks] doing?"

Free Internet Press

City Workers Manufacturing... What?
Finance workers... manufacturing what exactly?

John Thain's Wastebasket

Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain spent $1.22 million of company money redecorating his office, just as the financial crisis was hitting the firm and other employees were being fired. Items include:

1) $2,700 for six wall sconces.
2) $5,000 for a mirror in his private dining room.
3) $11,000 for fabric for a "Roman Shade.”
4) $13,000 for a chandelier in the private dining room.
5) $15,000 for a sofa.
6) $16,000 for a "custom coffee table.”
7) $18,000 for a “George IV Desk.”
8) $25,000 for a "mahogany pedestal table.”
9) $28,000 for four pairs of curtains.
10) $35,000 for something called a "commode on legs.”
11) $37,000 for six chairs in his private dining room.
12) $68,000 for a "19th Century Credenza" in his office.
13) $87,000 for a pair of guest chairs.
14) $87,000 for an area rug in Thain's conference room and another area rug for $44,000.
15) $800,000 to hire celebrity designer Michael Smith, who is currently redesigning the White House for the Obama family for just $100,000.

There's confusion about what Mr Thain paid for a wastebasket. According to Wikipedia it was $1,400. But other sources claim only $1,300.

John Thain

John Thain
A wastebasket

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