Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Today is Remembrance Day – also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day (the event it commemorates) or Veterans Day ...
This year the 90th anniversary loomed of the Armistice that ended World War One, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. As John Clinger noted in his tribute symbol of Remembrance, seems to demand reflection
By the way, If you haven’t heard about Gomorrah or shadow banker yet but you will.
The mad world of shadow bankers
Hedge funds and, to some extent, private equity companies are having to liquidate billions in assets as their business models collapse under the weight of falling share and house prices. The claim about SIVs, as with hedge funds and private equity companies, was that bankers had found ways to "abolish" risk through complex financial engineering.
In 1988, when two City financial whizzkids, Stephen Partridge-Hicks and Nicholas Sossidis, invented "structured investment vehicles", they inadvertently ignited the fuse that blew up the world's financial system in the Crash of 2008. Their company, called Gordian Knot, helped banks devise ingenious ways to hide their extravagant risk-taking by creating off-balance-sheet companies. They had created a Gordian knot all right - a system of financial mechanisms so complex that no one could unravel what was going on.
This past week Gordon Brown, a latter-day Alexander, tried to cut the Gordian knot, but he may have simply set the public finances adrift on a sea of debt. The state has exposed itself to the billions of pounds in liabilities held off the balance sheets of Britain's delinquent banks. This is the world of shadow banking.
The stock market crash early this month was largely a result of panic selling in this shadow banking system of structured finance. Hedge funds and, to some extent, private equity companies are having to liquidate billions in assets as their business models collapse under the weight of falling share and house prices. Until these losses work their way through the system, the British economy remains in intensive care.
The madness of the shadow banking system became apparent over a year ago when Northern Rock was nationalised, but regulators ignored the implications. The Treasury minister Yvette Cooper discovered to her dismay that Northern Rock didn't own half of its own mortgages: ?5obn had been hived off to a Jersey-based company, Granite, registered as a charity benefiting Down's syndrome children in the north-east of England. Needless to say, the charity didn't get any cash - this was a special-purpose vehicle that allowed the Rock to trade in complex securities without having to meet the stringent capitalisation requirements of a normal bank.
The mad world of shadow bankers
He dared to expose the truth about the Naples mafia in a book that has been turned into an acclaimed film. Now he is facing death threats
This was the week Roberto Saviano drank the bitter wine of his success to the dregs. The Neapolitan author is only 28, with a single blazingly vivid and courageous book to his name. This is Gomorrah, the "non-fiction novel" about Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, which has sold 1.8 million copies in 32 languages, and is now an acclaimed film.
Garlanded with the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, tipped for a foreign picture Oscar, Gomorrah the film has just opened to rave reviews in Britain. Shot in the degraded Naples hinterland in a gritty, documentary-like style using local people – one of whom, a Camorra gangster on the lam, was arrested this week – the film shows a mafia bereft of glamour and style but brutally masterful in its control of the Naples economy.
Roberto Saviano: Author of 'Gomorrah' the book exposing the Naples mafia
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