Many of the best ideas can be simple to implement.
Here’s one that certainly is:
Click the image to watch the video,
and be sure to share it around.
I was going to believe the tale about down-and-out Tapper Torney (received via a chain e-mail), but something smelt a bit off so I decided to check up on it and discovered Sandy’s fine model work.
I don’t understand how this can happen (but freely admit that there are many things I don’t understand).
This is what puzzles me. On occasion, while searching some book-selling websites, I’ve come across some quite ordinary books – not rare centuries-old manuscripts, or the like – that are being sold at exorbitantly high prices, hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Just a few minutes ago I stumbled upon an example of this, at no less than Amazon. Examine the two screenshots below:
Screenshot A is for a paperback sold directly from Amazon, while screenshot B is for what seems to be exactly the same paperback but sourced from outside Amazon. More than $1,300 for a paperback, what effrontery!
How and/or why does this sort of price-gouging happen, at Amazon or elsewhere? It beats me.
It was only in 2012-2013 that Bank of Cyprus seized depositor funds and it seems like that Australian government has this in mind for us here Down Under. I wonder how many of our federal members of parliament (MPs) are aware of what sneaky legislation/regulation is being considered.
The press release below expands on this topic. Any feedback and comments by blog readers in other countries would be appreciated.
Reflecting the overwhelming public opposition among Australians to losing their savings to prop up failing banks, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee revealed on 25 January that its inquiry into the APRA “bail-in” bill has received more than 1,000 submissions from the public. The vast majority of the submissions objected to the bail-in provisions of the bill, which would empower the bank regulator APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) to convert into worthless shares, or write off, the savings of unsuspecting mum-and-dad investors, and possibly depositors, in order to cover the gambling losses of banks and keep them afloat.
This is a stunning response—the average number of submissions to a Senate Economics Committee inquiry is 30! The submissions came from Australians who learned about the bill not from the media, which has largely blacked out any reporting of it, but from the Citizens Electoral Council. Once informed, a large number were motivated to write to the committee to express their objection. Unlike most politicians who reply to their constituents with identical form letters written by their superiors, the people who made submissions went to the effort to write their own letters.
In the face of this many submissions, which were made before the 18 December deadline, it is clear that the committee’s subsequent decision not to hold a public hearing is a cover up. A hearing would allow a public examination of the content of the submissions, including the all-important issue of whether the conversion or write-off provisions could extend to deposits, and concerns about APRA’s secrecy and complicity with the banks, which former APRA employees have raised.
The government, which controls the committee, does not want these issues aired. From the beginning, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have tried to minimise publicity for this bill—and the media has accommodated them. For the same reason, Turnbull rigged the terms of reference for the banking royal commission to exclude any examination of APRA and its policies. However, the scale of the public response to the Senate committee sounds a warning to MPs: Australians who are informed emphatically oppose bail-in, so be prepared for an electoral backlash if you agree to pass this bill.
Bail-in extends to deposits
It is undeniable that the APRA bill clears the way for the bail-in of hybrid securities, which APRA allowed the banks to sell to hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting self-funded retirees and self-managed super funds. That alone is grounds to oppose the bill, but even more concerning is that the bill as written empowers APRA to extend a bank bail-in to deposits. Both the government and APRA deny this. For instance, APRA’s submission to the Senate committee states, with forcefully underlined words, that the bill “does not include a statutory power for APRA to write-down or convert the interests of other creditors in resolution, including depositors of a failing ADI (often referred to as a ‘bail-in’ power). … APRA also notes, and fully agrees with, the statement in the FSI [2014 Financial System Inquiry] Final Report that, in Australia, deposits should not be included within any such framework, and should not be subject to bail-in.”
As Shakespeare would say, “Methinks APRA doth protest too much.” Firstly, APRA does the bidding of the global banking regulation apparatus centred in the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, which since 2009 has overseen the implementation of a global bail-in regime that in every other jurisdiction applies to deposits. Secondly, the reassurances of APRA and the government are meaningless—the wording of the bill is what matters.
On 23 January the CEC lodged a supplementary submission to provide the committee with legal analysis that the bill is worded to ensure that APRA does indeed have the scope to extend a bail-in to deposits. Following is the summary of the CEC’s submission, which outlines the legal analysis:
In summary, this Supplementary Submission has been considered necessary as a consequence of communications by Members of Parliament to constituents which seek to allay constituents’ concerns as to the Bill’s provisions concerning “bail-in”—the conversion and write-off provisions—and in particular their extension to deposits. The communications contend that the Bill does not provide any authority for the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (“APRA”) to bail-in deposits in the event of an ADI bank getting into financial difficulties.
This contention has also been repeated by various Authorities.
Bail-in of deposits has caused considerable hardship overseas where it has been employed and is of increasing concern to the Australian community.
This Supplementary Submission is accordingly being lodged to draw to the Committee’s attention the relevant provisions in the Bill relating to bail-in (whether explicit or implicit) and the concerns of this organisation and the community generally as to the nature and extent of those provisions.
As elaborated in this Supplementary Submission:
It therefore remains our contention that the Bill does provide APRA with power to bail in deposits and for this and the reasons appearing in our primary Submission of 18 December 2017 that the Bill should be rejected.
The CEC is continuing the fight to defeat the APRA bail-in bill—join us!
What you can do:
Make sure your MP and Senators are informed about this bill and the public’s opposition to it. Take or email the CEC’s submission and supplementary submission to your MP and Senators today (click here for links), and insist on a response in writing.
We hope you found this message useful.
Authorised: Robert Barwick‚ 595 Sydney Rd‚ Coburg‚ Vic 3058
On the global scale, there's quite a consensus that the banks own your money.
But that couldn't be the case in Australia, or could it?
A former principal researcher at bank regulator APRA has revealed in a submission to a Senate inquiry that, contrary to government reassurances, Australian bank deposits are not guaranteed.
This explosive revelation shreds the government’s repeated assurances that its new bill to give crisis resolution powers to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) will not allow the “bail-in” (confiscation) of bank deposits, because they are guaranteed up to $250,000 by the Financial Claims Scheme (FCS).
In the cover letter to his submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Crisis Resolution Powers and Other Measures) Bill 2017, Dr Wilson Sy asks Committee chair Senator Jane Hume: “As a matter of urgency, I need to ask: are you prepared to have your savings in bank deposits confiscated to save insolvent banks? What about the millions of voters you represent? How would they react if you allow this to happen to them?”
Dr Sy charges that the bill “gives the Government and APRA new discretionary powers to confiscate bank deposits”, and that it should be rejected.
(Dr Sy’s submission, “Protect Deposits Not the Fraudulent System”, is the first submission posted on the Senate inquiry’s website, and can be accessed here.)
As a Principal Researcher at APRA in 2004-10, during which time he was briefly acting Head of Research for a time, Dr Sy is one of the most qualified people to comment on APRA and the powers it will be given by this bill. Both the 2008 global financial crisis and introduction of the Financial Claims Scheme occurred while he was at APRA.
FCS guarantee not activated
The essential point that Dr Sy makes is that the FCS is not an absolute guarantee. He quotes the FCS website, which makes clear that the FCS will only take effect if the government activates it when an ADI (Authorised Deposit-taking Institution—a bank, credit union, building society etc.) fails. “That is, when a bank fails, i.e. becomes insolvent, the Australian Government or APRA then has the discretion to decide whether or not to activate the FCS”, he says. “Hence, it should be emphasised that:
“Bank deposits are not protected or guaranteed at all.”
Under the Banking Act 1959, Dr Sy explains, APRA is responsible for two potentially conflicting objectives: the protection of depositors AND the promotion of financial stability. This depositor protection is “illusory”, he asserts, because the Banking Act doesn’t state which objective has priority.
Under the new bill, however, APRA will have the discretionary power to decide which objective has priority; alarmingly, it will be able to make such a decision “in secrecy”. Dr Sy references Subdivision D, Section 11CH (p.24) of the bill, which states that APRA may decide that its orders must be kept secret if it is “necessary to protect the depositors of any ADI OR to promote financial system stability”. (Emphasis added by Sy.) The replacement of “AND” with “OR” confirms that the objectives are in potential conflict. “Therefore”, Dr Sy continued, “it is important to recognise that the Bill allows APRA discretionary powers to decide secretly whether to protect depositors or to promote financial system stability.”
Quoting a 2012 Reserve Bank of Australia paper, which stated that the priority of regulators, mandated under Commonwealth legislation, is to “pursue financial stability”, Dr Sy concludes:
“Therefore, the evidence collected here strongly suggests that the Bill is designed to confiscate bank deposits to ‘bail in’ insolvent banks to save the financial system.”
Can’t be funded
Dr Sy’s revelation is further, damning evidence that the FCS is not a real guarantee. The Citizens Electoral Council had already exposed in 2014 that, by the regulators’ own admission, the FCS doesn’t have the money to guarantee deposits in any of the Big Four banks, which hold 80 per cent of all deposits! This was first acknowledged in a 19 June 2009 meeting of Australia’s Council of Financial Regulators, comprising APRA, ASIC and the Reserve Bank, which noted in its minutes that a failure of one of the Big Four banks would “exceed the scheme’s resources”. Later, the Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland, which is in charge of imposing a bail-in regime worldwide, noted in its 21 September 2011 “Peer Review of Australia” that the government’s $20 billion provision per bank “would not be sufficient to cover the protected deposits of any of the four major banks”, which each have more than $400 billion in deposits. The CEC presented this evidence in its submission to the Senate committee inquiry.
Defeat the APRA bill
Most members of parliament are assuring their constituents that the APRA bill—which virtually none would have read—does not mean deposits will be able to be bailed in, because deposits are guaranteed under the FCS. Dr Sy’s revelation explodes that myth. This is not an academic question. With all signs pointing to a near-term collapse of the so-called “everything bubble” comprising property markets in Australia and elsewhere, the US stock market, Bitcoin, and the US$1.2 quadrillion global derivatives trade, a looming global financial crisis threatens Australia’s banking system. It is urgent, therefore, that Australians demand their MPs reject this bill outright, and go with the Glass-Steagall banking regulation instead, which guarantees deposits and financial stability by separating commercial banks with deposits from all forms of financial speculation. As Dr Sy says in his submission: “The global financial system needs fundamental structural reform which many countries believe is the restoration of the Glass-Steagall legislation which had worked well for many decades until it was corruptly or mistakenly repealed at the turn of this century.”
What you can do
Before Christmas, upwards of 800 everyday Australians flooded the Senate committee inquiry with submissions opposing the APRA bill and demanding Glass-Steagall. The Committee is expected to hold hearings in either late January or early February, by which time it is imperative that every MP and Senator is confronted with the truth about this bill.
1. Forward this release, the CEC’s submission (download here) and Dr Sy’s submission (download here) to your local federal MP and Senators before the end of the month. If possible, print copies and deliver them in person.
2. Sign and share the CEC’s latest petition: “Global crash coming—Australia needs Glass-Steagall and a National Bank”.
Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
Media Release Wednesday, 4 October 2017
Glass-Steagall unites unions, community groups against financial looting
Trade unions and social advocacy groups in Australia and the UK should look to their US counterparts, who are uniting behind the campaign to restore the Glass-Steagall separation of banking from financial speculation. Australia, the UK and USA and other neoliberal economies are on the verge of another banking crash, with any number of likely triggers, including the inevitable collapse of Australia’s housing bubble, or a chain-reaction meltdown of the so-called “everything bubble”—corporate debt, consumer debt, derivatives, etc. Under their present policies, governments will resort to massive bailouts (and bail-ins) of the banks that will be the driver for more brutal budget austerity imposed on the poor, sick, elderly and workers. From the experience of the 2008 crash and its ongoing aftermath, there is growing recognition that Glass-Steagall, the US law that from 1933 until its repeal in 1999 kept speculators out of everyday banking that served the community, is the first step necessary to rein in the predatory financial system and make the economy work for everybody. US trade unions and community groups are mobilising a coalition of forces to pressure the US Congress to enact a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.
On 27 September the USA’s peak union body, the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), hosted at its Washington DC headquarters an on-line “Webinar and Panel Discussion on Glass-Steagall Mobilisation”.
The panel of speakers included: Marcus Stanley, Policy Director for Americans for Financial Reform, a leading progressive think tank coalition of more than 200 organisations including consumer, labour, business, and other groups; Nomi Prins, former Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, Managing Director of Bear Stearns, Financial analyst for Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan banks, who is now a well-known author of seven books on the banking crisis, including All the Presidents’ Bankers and It Takes a Pillage; Bart Naylor, Public Policy Advocate for Public Citizen, an organisation in support of Glass-Steagall legislation that has over 400,000 members; Heather Slavkin Corzo, Director of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment and formerly the Chair of the Americans for Financial Reform Task Force on Derivatives, during and after the 2008 crisis; and Mayo Makinde, small business owner, community activist and Democratic candidate for Ohio Senate, who has lobbied Congress for the Glass-Steagall bill now being sponsored by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and US Senator Elizabeth Warren.
The AFL-CIO’s Corzo explained that the US trade union movement is demanding Glass-Steagall because of the ongoing economic destruction caused by the financial crisis. Her stark description of the crisis should ring alarm bells for everyone in Australia, which is poised for the same disaster. For instance, Corzo emphasised that millions of Americans lost their homes when the US housing bubble burst—a bubble proportionally smaller than Australia’s housing bubble today. Another harbinger for Australians is that trillions of dollars of US workers’ retirement savings—the equivalent of superannuation—was also lost in the crash. She debunked the claim that economic conditions have improved and pointed out that banks are not functioning as engines of economic growth by lending to small and medium enterprises that create jobs for regular Americans, but are speculating instead, which is only generating wealth for the top 1 per cent that the rest of the country isn’t sharing. This parallels the way Australia’s banks are starving small businesses and farmers of credit in order to load up on mortgage loans. “The other huge reason the AFL-CIO supports the reinstitution of the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act is that we want to see a return to prudent banking, where banking is a vehicle for investment in the real economy as opposed to investment in speculative bubbles and bursts,” Corzo said.
A number of unions in the UK have expressed strong support for Glass-Steagall, as have many MPs from all parties, and the UK Labour Party’s election manifesto called for a firm separation of commercial banking and investment banking. This support is passive, however, and there is not an equivalent grass-roots mobilisation to ensure it becomes law.
For Australia’s labour movement, the AFL-CIO’s leading role in this Glass-Steagall mobilisation should give them pause. Why is Glass-Steagall a major union issue in the USA (and UK), but not Australia? And why did the Australian Labor Party under former union boss Bill Shorten oppose Glass-Steagall, or even a banking inquiry, until it was fishing for extra votes in the 2016 election? The difference is the US and UK trade unions have experienced a financial crash, and know the survival of workers depends upon ending the unbridled speculation that has looted the real economy, and that begins with Glass-Steagall. Australia’s labour movement is in denial.
For too long Australia’s unions have been complicit in the “financialisation” of the economy—the shift from productive industries to financial services—which has enabled financial speculators to dominate and loot the economy. The unions’ own Labor Party privatised the Commonwealth Bank, deregulated the private banks, and replaced a fair aged pension with the compulsory superannuation system, which has forced all Australian workers to ride the stock market rollercoaster, and enables predatory banks like Macquarie—in cahoots with union-controlled industry superannuation funds—to buy privatised assets and gamble with workers’ retirement savings. Since this process began in 1983 under Labor’s Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, manufacturing and agriculture’s share of GDP has plunged, and financial services has become the biggest sector of the economy. Hawke and Keating took their “reforms” from the same neoliberal Mont Pelerin Society blueprint that Margaret Thatcher used in the UK; in turn, Australian Labor’s “success” was used to justify Tony Blair’s continuation of Thatcherism as UK Labour policy—now ended by Jeremy Corbyn.
Australian workers have never been more exposed to a financial crash than they are today. They are losing their full-time jobs in productive industries like car manufacturing, forced to borrow huge money to buy unaffordable houses which leaves them dreading the slightest rise in interest rates, and their superannuation is locked up in the financial casino, much of it invested in the banks. Household debt is soaring in Australia and the UK.
It is time for unions and community groups in Australia and the UK to join forces with their counterparts in the USA and not just support, but mobilise their memberships to fight for, a Glass-Steagall banking separation that can end this era of financial speculation and looting.
We hope you found this message useful. As a registered political party‚ the CEC receives email addresses from various sources‚ which it does not pass on to any other organisation.
Authorised: Robert Barwick‚ 595 Sydney Rd‚ Coburg‚ Vic 3058
Lying around, pondering the problems of the world, I realized that at my age I don't really give a damn anymore.
If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal -- but not now that he uses a bike.
A whale swims all day, only eats fish, and drinks water, but is still fat.
A rabbit runs, and hops, and only lives 15 years, while a tortoise doesn't run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150 years. Yet they tell us to exercise? I don't think so!
Now that I'm older here's what I've discovered:
Beware, this might well happen to you on a Windows system!
Refer to the following Microsoft Community user query:
Windows 7: System Volume Information has many large files ...
Today I just noticed on my Windows 10 Pro system that my 250 GB Samsung SSD was unexpectedly running out of space. I assiduously do a disk cleanup every few months, but today I discovered only about 12 GB was left when I would normally expect around 70 GB of free space.
A little analysis showed a similar situation to the screenshot above, there were more than 80 GB of system restore files.
I suspect that the System Restore settings might have been changed during a recent Windows update. I have no proof of this, but I certainly didn't myself make any change to the settings.
All that I had to do to make lots more space available was:
Note that I did not have to reboot Windows 10 or do anything else. The space was immediately freed up, and now there’s 90 GB available on the C: drive.
Dry thunderstorm lightning causes the majority of forest fires.
It seems this video was from a fixed camera, as a human operator may not have survived this strike. Watch (at 7 seconds, of 56) how the lightning first strikes the river bank, then into the river and downstream with much turbulence.
Glad I wasn't swimming or fishing or boating there!
(Sorry, I’m not clear about the attribution of this video.)