Back to the Trough for Happy Piglets

by Chris Sturr | June 14, 2009

A comment from Morningstaronline.co.uk; hat-tip to Bob F.:

And it’s back to the trough

Friday 12 June 2009 | Comment | Morningstaronline.co.uk

It wasn’t that long ago that the banks precipitated a crisis that shook the world’s economy to its roots and is still causing the loss of thousands of jobs every month at undercapitalised and credit-starved manufacturing companies.

A cycle of share gambling and outrageous risk-taking came to crisis when the banks even stopped trusting each other and refused to lend to other banks for fear that they had been lying about their exposure to unsafe debt.

This came about in part because of an unrestrained drive for multimillion-pound bonuses and other payouts by the dealers and high-level market manipulators employed by the banks to generate profits for them from speculation.

At the time and, indeed, ever since, the apologists in the capitalist media were carrying on about the emergence of a “new, moral capitalism” minus the short-sellers and speculation that had brought such discredit on their system.

There was even a ban on short selling instituted to prevent the ludicrous amount of damage done to capital markets by the practice.

But, as anyone with a clear perspective on capitalism could have forecast, such high-sounding sentiments meant little and their implementation couldn’t last.

The short-selling ban was dropped as hastily as it had been instituted the moment that the immediate glare of publicity had died down a little.

Short selling once more became “a necessary tool of the markets” the moment that the City speculators felt that they could get away with it.

And once again, the speculators are emerging, jostling for position to get their snouts back into the trough after a short enforced layoff, during which they have been reduced to picking over the corpses of their fellows who have been forced out of business, in the hopes of gleaning a quick buck.

One wonders what the 5,000-plus Barclays staff who have been made redundant over the last two years will make of the fact that the bank is selling off its Barclays Global Investors division to US specialist speculator BlackRock and, in the process, making around 380 upper-echelon Barclays employees into millionaires, chief among them being Barclays investment banking boss Bob Diamond.

Mr Diamond, he of the £20 million a year salary, is set to pocket £22 million from his share of the action.

The redundant staff will certainly not be overjoyed. And neither should the remaining employees, since at least one analyst has pointed out that the deal may be of benefit to those 380 top employees, but the bank is giving up a key revenue stream, which will not be entirely offset by the 19.9 per cent holding in BlackRock it acquired as part of the deal.

The shareholders certainly aren’t impressed, if the markets are anything to go by. Barclays shares dropped by 3 per cent immediately the deal was announced. But you can bet that those 380 new-made millionaires will be over the moon.

As will private equity house CVC, which is in line to receive a £106 million payout of depositors’ money for, believe it or not, doing nothing except losing out on buying part of the company.

So it’s back to the trough for the happy piglets. A deal goes through that doesn’t help the company, doesn’t help the mass of the shareholders, doesn’t help the public and, in fact, only helps 380 speculators and a private equity firm.

And Barclays isn’t even saying what it will do with the £5.3 billion that it will collect, except that it will put it towards boosting capital resources. In other words, it will just sling it in the vaults, which is, one supposes, logical since Barclays, in common with all the other banks, isn’t becoming notable for rebuilding loans to industry. You couldn’t make it up.

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