[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Iain Roberts

The Liberal Democrat vote fell in June because too few voters believed we were the party on their side and fighting for them on the issues they cared about.

That wasn’t the only reason of course, but it was the main one.

So what next?

Forget talk of a progressive alliance. Labour will use it to beat us up. Caroline Lucas championed a progressive alliance and for her troubles the Green vote more than halved. Labour are always happy to take Lib Dem votes lent to them in the cause of beating the Tories, but in Lib Dem/Conservative marginals Labour actively campaigned against the Lib Dems. Had they not done so, May probably wouldn’t be Prime Minister. But Labour prefers to stop the Lib Dems and Greens even if it means a Tory government and that’s not going to change.

No. The Lib Dems will only survive and prosper by carving out a space for ourselves. Not some theoretical slot on the left-right spectrum. Not simply “we’re not the Tories/Labour and we can win here”. But a space where a substantial proportion of the British public see the party as fighting for them and on their side.

The political space we fashion for ourselves must build on our core beliefs and our history, but it cannot be so narrow that it stops us winning seats. Any political platform must have the ability to bring on board 40%+ of voters across tens or hundreds of constituencies and 20%+ of voters across all constituencies.

That space should include Liberal Democrat concerns about freedom, equality and individuality. It should encompass our pro-European and internationalist beliefs too.

For me, the Liberal Democrats’ natural place is the party of aspiration and business. The party that understands that a strong, wealthy, inclusive country needs a strong, healthy economy and that relies on business – especially small and medium sized businesses – being able to set up, grow and succeed. The party of the entrepreneur, the self-employed and the regular person working 9-5 to improve the lot of themselves and their family.

Faced with a heartless, incompetent and anti-business Conservative party, intent on running down our economy by taking us out of the European Union, and a Labour Party selling fantasy economics, our nation needs a liberal party dedicated to economic growth that benefits all, to protecting our freedoms and playing our full part in the world.

Of course I am not for a moment claiming that a few speeches by our new leader, will be sufficient. Many challenges will remain if we are to succeed in taking ownership of this political space and getting our message across to voters both in volume and over time.

But I am absolutely certain that, unless we create that space and persuade a substantial proportion of the electorate that we are the ones who are on their side and will do the best for them, all our efforts will be for nought.

* Iain Roberts is the former leader of Stockport Liberal Democrats and Lib Dem Campaign Manager in Greater Manchester Mayoral election and for Cheadle constituency in the General Election

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

That is why I have always said writing off student debt and PFI are key, if only the start. Both could be done. But the symbolism is essential.

There’re two problems with writing off PFI debt.

One is that much of it isn’t in fact debt at all. It’s ongoing operation and maintenance costs. Which still have to be paid whoever’s pockets the money comes from.

The other is rather more important. Spudda is, as we know, the guy who insists that we could get all that private pension money, lots and lots of corporate cash as well, funding public sector projects like housing greenery and so on through a national investment bank or the like.

Government’s going to get a lot of investment in such schemes if it has just written off the debts from the last set of such private money into public investment schemes, isn’t it?

[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Gareth Corfield

Bundles of future chip wrappers allegedly nabbed from London rail station

Two men have been charged with theft for allegedly helping themselves to bundles of free newspapers from London Bridge railway station.…

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Posted by Tim Worstall

When a tanker truck overturned on a road in eastern Pakistan on Sunday (June 25), hundreds of people rushed towards the vehicle to collect the leaking fuel.

Using buckets, bottles and cans, they scooped up some of the 5,500 gallons of fuel gushing onto the road. For about an hour, men, women and children from nearby villages, as well as some passers-by who pulled over in their cars and motorbikes, collected the “windfall”, despite attempts by police to warn them away from the scene.

Then, suddenly, the truck caught fire and exploded, killing at least 150 people and seriously injuring at least 100 others.

I recall at least one incident of this happening in Nigeria. What’s gasoline these days, $2 a gallon? (Untaxed, of course, not at European rates). $10,000 worth of gas, 150 deaths, these people were poor, no? Risking for that little each?

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Donald Trump has not hosted an iftar dinner during Ramadan, breaking a nearly 20-year tradition.

Is two decades a tradition?

And how many such religious festivities should the White House follow? Muslims are some 1% of Americans, Jews 2% (or so). Passover at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? 0.7% Hindu and Buddhist each. By some estimates Eastern Orthodox outnumber Muslims. Jan 6 th celebrations, just where are they?

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

The Labour Party seems to be toying with the idea of lifting the household benefits cap in the UK–this might not be the very wisest of political moves. Because at least one part of the cap, that upon housing benefit alone, has proven to be remarkably popular. And one of the things political parties really should try to do is keep popular policies.

Labour would “look to” remove a cap on household benefits but has not yet costed the measure, the shadow work and pensions secretary has told the BBC.

Last week a High Court judge said the curb meant “real misery” for families with children aged under two.

Labour’s Debbie Abrahams told the BBC the party would consider removing the £20,000 limit on household benefits if it came to power.

It’s entirely possible that that limit does cause real misery. But then it’s also true that there are households out there who gain that as their total income–an income which they’re paying tax upon as well.

She told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show said: “We recognise that for some people listening to this that might seem like an awful lot of money but the reality is, what I’ve just said, the implications for people in the poorest circumstances, the implications around child poverty which affects children not just while they’re young but for the rest their lives – it affects how their brains develop and everything.”

There is undoubtedly going to be tax and redistribution, that’s a certainty. We don’t want anyone to be in poverty either–although I would insist upon poverty being defined as poverty, not just the inequality which is relative poverty. But this just then leads to, well, how generous is that welfare state going to be? How much should, righteously, be taken off one group of people to be given to the other? Another way of asking the same thing might be what standard of living are those unwilling to or incapable of work justified in getting from the rest of us?

The answer, in anything approaching a democratic system, is going to be the standard of living that the rest of us feel is justified. And we’ve a very interesting little example here.

Note what the benefits cap is. It isn’t that if your total income rises above £20,000 a year then you get no more benefits. It’s £20,000 a year in benefits alone. Note that the median working income (not household, for one person) is only £27,000, so there are really rather a large number of people out there going out to work each day and getting less than this benefits cap. The general feeling in working Britain is that this £20,000 us a fairly juicy sum therefore. Maybe they’re right and maybe they’re wrong but there is a certain feeling about it.

Which we can see when one part of this was first introduced. Housing benefit is a top up to the rent bill for those who cannot afford private sector rents. It’s a major expense to the government coffers. So, it was decided to limit it, no household could get more than £400 in this benefit. This did indeed mean that some larger families would have to move to poorer areas or just cheaper accommodation. I recall, vividly, reading the denunciations of this in the Guardian’s comment section under the piece announcing it. But, but, £400 a month? That’s peanuts in today’s British (more accurately, Southern England’s) rental market today. How could we all be so mean? And then it was explained (I might have had a little to do with that) that the cap was £400 a week. £20,800 a year. At which point the tone of the comments changed dramatically. But, but, who has been getting that much? I earn less than that in total etc etc.

The British have a very good sense of, in the vernacular, when someone is “taking the piss.” That there’s a cap on how much people get from the welfare state is thus rather a popular policy.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

You know, the South Africa for Africans argument?

The first of these discoveries is genetic. Swedish and South African scientists have made the origin of us — modern human beings — an even more mind-bogglingly gradual phenomenon than we used to think. Here is what they found. A skeleton of a boy who died 2,000 years ago at a place called Ballito Bay has yielded a good sample of preserved DNA. He was a Khoe-San, that is to say an indigenous native of southern Africa of the kind once called “bushmen”, who still live in the Kalahari desert.

But unlike all today’s Khoe-San he had no DNA from black Africans or white Europeans in him. Neither had yet arrived in southern Africa. So comparing the Ballito boy’s DNA to all modern people’s DNA made it possible to calculate when we last shared a common ancestor with him.

That is, the Bantu are just as much invaders as whitey has been. Indeed, for the Western Cape, the Bantu came later. The same is true of almost all of Africa south of, about, Ghana. The Bantu there are as new as the Germanic tribes are to Western, or even Central, Europe.

Which does pose something of a problem for the idea that the land should belong to the indigenes. Which indigenes?

Not quite right here

Jun. 26th, 2017 05:22 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

McDonnell repeatedly drew cheers from the crowds when he spoke of the need for electoral reform and changes to the House of Lords. He called for a “progressive intellectual alliance” between parties to rebuild what was needed for a democracy. “The House of Lords – 92 of them are there on the basis of who Charles II shagged at some point in the past,” he said. “It can’t be right that we have a House of Lords that’s based upon those people appointed rather than elected.”

For of course the hereditaries are elected…..

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has claimed that the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire were “murdered by political decisions”, saying politicians’ decisions over recent decades were important factors in the deaths of 79 people in the tower block in north Kensington, London.

Y’kno, if political decisions kill people…..

This would actually be rather amusing

Jun. 26th, 2017 05:00 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

A human rights group has called on the International Olympic Committee “not to repeat the mistake of the 1936 Berlin Games” by permitting North Korea to host events as part of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Do Jong-hwan, the South Korean minister of sport, proposed last week that some of the skiing events at present scheduled to take place in the city of Pyeongchang instead be held at North Korea’s Masikryong Ski Resort.

Because they’d really never manage to cope at all. Tens of thousands of westerners there would be the mother of all disasters for the N Koreans. They simply would not comprehend how people would act.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson


Never before has main opposition party had such margins after an election

We have now had three voting polls since the general election and all of them, as can be seen in the table above, have shown clear leads for Labour.

This is highly unusual and almost unprecedented. Almost always the first polls after a general election see the winner doing better than it did in the voting on the day.

Thanks to Mark Pack’s excellent Pollbase place we can ascertain that there has only ever been one case before of the main opposition party beating the election winner in the early polls of a new parliament.

The exception could bring some cheer to the Tories because Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives struggled in the early days of her Parliament after her 1979 General Election win. Then Gallup and NOP recorded LAB leads of up to 1.5% in the first surveys and we all know that Mrs T went on to win a landslide four years later.

But 1.5% is nothing like the scale of the first three voting intention polls of this parliament which have seen gaps of 3-6%.

My reading is that Corbyn is still benefiting from the sheer shock of the June 8th result partly because most of the pollsters got it so wrong. If all of them had been producing numbers like Survation then my guess that the impact could have been less.

We move on this week to the vital vote on TMay’s Queen’s speech and what has actually been agreed with the DUP.

Mike Smithson

[syndicated profile] devils_kitchen_feed

Posted by Devil's Kitchen

Your humble Devil has finally felt the need to refresh his quill for a brief post.

The thing is, you see, that whilst the British people voted the right way in opting for Brexit, the contempt and derision aimed at them—this demos in democracy—has been as depressingly predictable as ever.

As I alluded to before, I have spent a good deal of the last decade wandering up and down the country engaging with housing associations (and their tenants) for work: that means that I have seen a great many of the old industrial heartlands in the kind of close-up that I never dreamed of doing.

And, largely, I make a point of going into pubs to hear people talk—because it is incumbent on any political animal to understand the point of view of those outside their immediate sphere of influence. Especially since my general sphere is middle-class, white, and prosperous-city-centric.

Here is the point, children: there is a colossal rift in this country between the "haves" (London and the Home Counties) and the "have-nots" (everywhere else). Osborne, in his clumsy Oxbridge way, at least recognised this—even if his Northern Powerhouse remains totally undefined—whilst most other people of my acquaintance seem to be living in a fucking fantasy world.

I have significant concerns about how we can progress—and, in any case, to do so, we need to acknowledge the problems. Part of the rank stupidity of Remainers is that they seem to be blissfully unaware that there are any problems—and for that reason Brexit remains the best choice we could have made (even were it not the will of 17.5m British people).

So, without further ado, and via the excellent Tim Newman, let me introduce you to Tucker Carlson. OK. So. I don't know who Tucker Carlson is really (apparently he is currently a Fox presenter), but I don't think that I have ever heard anyone encapsulate all of my personal concerns and beliefs quite so eloquently. Or at all, actually.

You should watch this. And do not think that it is just "all about America"—it isn't. Watch it, and then come back...

Like Carlson, I don't really have to care: like Carlson, I live in the city of our country's federal government so I'm alright, Jack. But I think that we should all care—if only because there is trouble brewing.

Let's look at just a couple of his points:

  • when Carlson talks about those outside Washington DC, think those outside of London;
  • when he talks about the "middle-class" in the US, it is equivalent to the formerly-prosperous working- and middle-classes in the UK;
  • Carlson points out that the Republicans are anti-Obamacare but did not know what they would replace it with—well, I think that we are familiar with that argument from Brexit, no?
  • and whilst the "over-correction" that he talks about regarding Trump has not happened in the USA, it has happened here—with Corbyn.

But note that the difference in the UK, over Carlson's implied scenario, is that the over-correction to Corbyn has not come from the 'neglected classes'—it has come from the affluent classes to whom Corbyn has, essentially, promised cash monies. And these people are, largely, the worst and most affluent people in the country, e.g. students, etc.

Back on the night of the 2015 election, a friend invited me to take part in a debate at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club: I was introduced as "a man whose views I hope will enrage you..."

The audience was largely composed of students. So, yes, my views did enrage them. Especially when asked if I was pro-tuition fees, I replied "why should a bin man pay for you to sit on your arse 'studying' philosophy for three years?"

They booed me as I left.

And I was glad.

I didn't want to be cheered by those cunts.

But the point is that all of the problems that Carlson identifies are present in our country too. A very early contributor to the Kitchen, Martin Kelly, railed against the wage-lowering potential of low-skilled immigrant labour, for instance.

Like Carlson, it does not mean that I think that—on balance—immigration is a bad thing. But I do think that we—that is, the British people—should be allowed to debate it without being called "bigots", "racists", or "xenophobes". And I do think, if the British people are not convinced by the arguments, that they should be allowed to vote "no" and to have that vote respected.

And I do think that, ultimately, "democracy is the pressure relief valve" that stops countries collapsing. And I do think that this valve has been denied us for a long time.

Luckily, our politicians have not been the most enthusiastic for EU integration: which is why we do not have Marine le Pen or Geert Wilders. But if you think that it was never going to happen here (or that it will not happen in France or the Netherlands), then you are part of the problem.

Actually, you are most of the problem.

WAKE UP, you stupid arsehole—smell some of that delicious coffee*.

*Coffee, by the way, that is tariff free when imported to the EU as raw beans but which carries a 35% tariff if processed—a policy that is designed to keep Developing Countries poor.**

** Are you the kind of person who supports the EU, but who then buys Fair Trade coffee? Then you are an unspeakable cunt. Fuck off.


Jun. 25th, 2017 10:53 pm
[syndicated profile] devils_kitchen_feed

Posted by Devil's Kitchen

Your humble Devil apologises for his lack of posting: it has become increasingly difficult to actually put quill to vellum, as it were.

It's not purely that the political situation is rather uninspiring, it is also that I have become very much out of the habit of writing (about politics, at least). As such, every time that I fire up the blogging screen, I feel an incredible weariness.

I asked Pete to blog here because I thought that contemplating the actual mechanics of leaving the EU was important: I wanted to know, as much as anything. My reasons for voting Leave are actually very similar to Pete's, i.e. the rebooting of democracy and power structures in this country: however, he has a knowledge of the intricacies of the technical aspects that is beyond mine and I thought these worth setting down, here, for the record.

I shall try to post a little more frequently going forward. But, please, be warned that the reasons for eschewing this format haven't really gone away. My postings may be rare.

In the meantime, thanks to those of you that are still here...

Theresa May and the Holy Grail

Jun. 25th, 2017 09:20 pm
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Genius from ABC News in Australia: who knew Monty Python and the Holy Grail was the role model for Theresa May’s government?

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

A good standard answer to ‘how far ahead should we be planning?’ is ‘further ahead than we are’. But good as it is as a default answer, it is not always right.

Even for a firm supporter of a long-term party strategy such as myself (cough, core votes, cough), it would be foolish not to acknowledge the huge uncertainty over even the next six months. Will there be another general election? Will Theresa May still be Conservative leader? Will the SNP still be pursuing a second independence referendum? How will the Brexit talks be going? The list of major questions, all of which are hard to answer with certainty* goes on.

That context is particularly relevant to the Liberal Democrat leadership contest. Should the party be looking for a new leader who might be in place for a decade or more or should we be concentrating on more short-term considerations (especially as we’re still only one bad result away from Parliamentary extinction)?

Here’s Vince Cable’s take on that:

My position is that the party and the country have a massive challenge ahead: the possibility of an unwanted, unpopular, costly election within months and the Brexit process over a couple of years.

We do not have the luxury of planning many years ahead – and 2022 is a very long time ahead in the current fragile state of British politics. I have the experience and national reputation to help us meet the massive challenges ahead.

I will meet the longer term questions when we get there and go on as long as I am fit and able. I could seek to emulate Gladstone (winning an election and becoming Prime Minister at 82) or Churchill or Reagan or whoever.

Or if I suffer a fatality on my bike or a skiing accident or fall off a mountain, among my more dangerous activities, or suffer some other misfortune, there are other people admirably qualified to take over.

One of those people, of course, in the minds of many members is Jo Swinson, the party’s new Deputy Leader. Of her Vince Cable says:

There is absolutely no basis to the rumour that I have an agreement with Jo Swinson and that I plan to stand aside for her in a couple of years.  I have absolutely no plan to stand on that interim basis.

The reference to Ronald Reagan, by the way, reminds me of one of the US Republican President’s best lines:

* Strictly speaking, they are easy to answer with certainty if you don’t mind taking pot luck on whether or not you’re right.

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

The Federal Board (FB) met on Saturday to agree the election timetable for electing someone to succeed Tim Farron as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Full details will be going out to party members during the week, so rather than duplicate that information I wanted to pull out a few of the pieces of thinking behind the decisions which have been made. All the more so as there is a very widespread range of views amongst party members as to how long the ideal leadership election contest would be. Whatever the FB decided, they’d be a chunk of members who think it is wrong.

The election regulations as passed by party conference give limited flexibility over the length of the contest (“the timetable for the election shall be no shorter than 8 weeks and no longer than 13 weeks” say the rules).

For me (and others) one of the key points was to have the close of nominations as late as possible in the process. That is because this is also the cut-off date for eligibility to vote in the contest. The later that is, the more time that gives all parts of the party – from central HQ through to local branches – to maximise the benefits for our long-term strength of recruiting and renewing members with the extra hook of getting a vote in the contest.

The Federal Board also gets to set the total spending limit for the contest and the cap on individual donations. (Travel and subsistence costs do not count against the spending limit.) My consistent view for party contests is that we want to encourage candidates to run active, intensive campaigns – as that both tests out their campaigning ability and also maximises the information which members then have when deciding how to vote.

Moreover, testing out fundraising skills is a valuable part of an internal contest – the people who win them (leader, president and public candidates) can all play important roles in our fundraising and the party is better if we have people who appreciate its value and can successfully lead teams that make fundraising happen. Fundraising is not a zero-sum game – having rules which benefit those who can lead effective fundraising doesn’t take money away from our other fundraising; rather it means we get people in place who are good at amplifying it.

But we also need to protect against rich people being able to simply self-fund or against rich people being able to exercise undue influence. That is why I prefer relatively high spending limits combined with relatively low limits on the amount any one person can donate.

Our old limits would have both allowed candidates to spend less than 50p per voter (a very low sum) but also would have meant they could max out their fundraising for items that count against the limit by raising the maximum from just 10 people. The new limits, to be detailed in the information going out to members in the next few days, will radically alter that, cutting radically how much any one individual can give and allowing more to be spent overall – so getting much closer to having a system where the people who can inspire widespread small donor support (just the sort of people we need winning such contests) get an advantage over those who know a handful of rich people.

Add this to making the close of nominations late rather than early, and I think we’ve agreed on a set of rules which will help the party’s grassroots and financial strength – things which we most definitely need.

Why My Wife is Amazing, Part 73,592

Jun. 25th, 2017 04:05 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Conversation between me and Krissy yesterday:

Me: With all this bullshit around health care, and the possibility of pre-existing conditions and insurance caps coming back, we should probably look into supplemental insurance.

Krissy: I got us supplemental insurance years ago.

Me: You did?

Krissy: Yes. I even have policies for very specific things.

Me: Like what?

Krissy: I have an insurance policy on your hands.

Me: My hands?

Krissy: You’re a writer. You use your hands. If something happens to your hands, it’s a problem. We’ll need to pay for someone for you to dictate to.

Me: You’ve insured my hands.

Krissy: Yes.

Me: I’m not going to lie. That’s literally the sexiest thing you’ve said to me this whole damn month.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson has a rather odd piece on last week’s failure of Banco Popular in Spain. The bank was swiftly taken over by Santander to put it out of its misery, the shareholders lost everything as did the suppliers of contingent capital in the coco bonds. OK, that’s all fine, but in discussing it Morgenson manages to confuse two entirely different banking concepts, capital and liquidity. This matters because she starts to compare the situation in Spain to the relaxations that the Trump administration is proposing for the US. The implication being given is that relaxing the capital standards could lead to a problem like Banco Popular in the US. But Popular didn’t go under because of capital, it went under because it suffered a run, a shortage of liquidity. This is an entirely different thing, so different that it requires entirely different solutions. It is also true that any and every bank is at risk in a run. Simply because that’s how banking works, it’s not possible to both be a bank and immune from a run, however much capital you’ve got.


Banco Popular, Spain’s fifth-largest bank, with over $100 billion in loans, collapsed earlier this month, forcing it into the arms of its rival, Banco Santander. The latter, Spain’s largest bank, bought the failing institution for the nominal sum of one euro after depositors withdrew money en masse and the company’s stock price plunged.

There is is, depositors withdrew money, it was a run.

But there is much for investors to learn in the Banco Popular meltdown. Lesson No. 1: Don’t trust bank stress-test results.

Financial institutions must have capital on hand in order to absorb losses. And stress tests were designed by regulators to assess how resilient bank balance sheets will be during downturns. On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Board released the results at 34 of the nation’s largest banks. All exceeded their minimum thresholds.

In 2016, Banco Popular conducted a stress test in cooperation with the European Banking Authority. Although we now know how troubled Banco Popular was, that test told a rosier story.

But that’s an entirely different issue. Stress tests don’t have anything to do with a bank run for the simple reason that they cannot have anything to do with them, that’s not even what they’re trying to measure. This then leads on to:

Lesson No. 2 of the Banco Popular collapse is that regulators should require banks to maintain higher leverage ratios, another measure of capital adequacy. And yet this is a regulatory requirement the Trump administration wants to loosen.

Leverage ratios are computed by dividing a bank’s tangible common equity by its total assets. Currently, large United States bank holding companies must have a leverage ratio of at least 5 percent to avoid restrictions on capital distributions and discretionary bonus payments. European regulators are much more lenient, requiring a ratio of only 3 percent beginning in January 2018.

That’s also irrelevant, this was a bank run, nothing to do with capital.

There are two things that can go wrong with a bank, it can become insolvent or illiquid. Both will kill it but they’re entirely different issues. Being illiquid will kill even a solvent bank but an insolvent bank can survive a very long time as long as it has access to liquidity.

Insolvency is when the bank owes more than it is owed. It has negative capital, it’s just bust and that’s it. Being illiquid, having no liquidity, is an entirely different beast. To explain this, the background here.

What banks do, the thing which is banking, is they borrow short and lend long. If you’re not doing this maturity transformation you’re not a bank. Depositors can almost always take they money back when they want. But loans out are for years, or in the case of mortgages, decades. So, if everyone comes looking for their deposits back at the same time the bank just doesn’t have the money. This is being illiquid. It might well be that all those loans are going to pay off and the profits will be very decent but if you’ve not got the cash people want today then you’re bust in a different manner. This is why central banks stand behind the banking system, willing to offer unlimited liquidity against valid collateral.

It is not possible for a bank to have enough capital to defeat this problem. At the extreme that would mean having capital of 100% of the loan and or deposit book. Which isn’t banking at all, because that is 100% reserve banking, which doesn’t do that maturity transformation. Indeed, at that point there’s no point in having the depositors either.

Banco Popular ran out of liquidity, as Morgenson says, but that means that it’s of no relevance to capital standards in the US banking system. Liquidity and insolvency are just different things.

Destroyer: Chapter 6

Jun. 25th, 2017 01:53 pm
[syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

Posted by Andrew Hickey

In the tiny house in Torquay in which he resided, the Great Beast 666, To Mega Therion, Frater Perdurabo, or, as he was known to most of the population, Aleister Crowley, was making breakfast – a single boiled egg, toast, and a cup of tea. He told himself that his meditative practices would make this a sensory feast as great as any orgy, the texture of the yolk on his tongue as exquisite as the finest opium, but he still faced it with a weariness born of age.

Crowley had, in the past, been an imposing figure, a great hulk of a man whose bald head and piercing eyes could intimidate the most fearless of men into submission. He had been a mountaineer of the top rank, and a practising yogi who could bend his body into asanas which would have caused agony for even the most flexible of non-adepts. Now, though, he was sallow, his angular cheekbones showing through sagging skin. His head, no longer shaved, was fringed by tufts of white hair stained yellow by tobacco smoke. His digestion was permanently destroyed by his herculean intake of opiates, coca leaf, and absinthe. While he railed against the privations rationing caused him, he knew that in reality his diet would not be much different even were he to dine at the Savoy every evening. He never had been much good at self-deception, though that would never stop him trying.

He placed his egg-cup, toast-rack, butter dish, cup, saucer, and teapot on the tray with an exacting precision, then picked up the tray and shuffled over to his dining table. He placed the tray on the table, pulled out a chair, and sat down. He buttered his toast slowly, treating the rhythm of the knife strokes as a yogic mantra.

There was a pile of post on the table, which he had collected earlier. He opened the envelopes with his butter knife, and flicked through the letters desultorily. There were the usual missives from admirers; one from Lady Frieda Harris talking about the stultifying details of an undoubtedly tedious, but potentially lucrative, exhibition of her art, would need his attention at some point. He put it to one side and looked through the rest.

There was little of interest there. He sipped at his tea and winced to himself. There had been a time, not so long ago, when he would have disdained utterly a cup of tea made from what tasted like dust sweepings and mouse droppings, but that time had passed. This was his life now; soft-boiled eggs and flavourless grey liquids. He sighed and picked up the next letter.

Bills. Bills from the Gas Board, bills from the grocer, bills from all sides. And nothing to pay them with except a meagre income which came from public speaking and the decreasing sales of his books. Crowley could remember a time when he could have his books printed in tasteful, unique, editions for initiates only. Now, they were a commercial proposition to be sold like jars of mustard, and to an audience that could not even tell that they were being insulted in every word. And yet they still didn’t sell enough.

He sliced his toast into soldiers, each strip as thin as possible in order to prolong the meal. He picked up one, dipped it in the egg yolk once, twice, three times, timing his breathing to match the dunks, and took a bite. At least the egg was good, even if the bread was the cheap, nasty, stuff that was all that could be obtained at present.

Let the yolk settle on the tongue. Feel the sticky, viscous, texture. Taste the sulphurous yellow liquid, and then let it slide down the throat along with the bread before the taste of the bread reaches the tongue. Maximise the pleasure, minimise the discomfort. Treat it as a yogic practice.

He continued looking through the letters. Quite a mountain of post he’d collected today – if not an Everest, then at least a…no, best not think of that particular mountain. Some things were best forgotten, and into that category he put most of his correspondence as well.

One letter, however, did have something of interest about it. It was from Naval Intelligence, addressed to “Mr. Aleister Crowley”, and he thought about casting it aside then and there without reading further, given the British Government’s stubborn refusal to use his proper title. He relented, though, and decided to show the usurper’s lackeys the grace and magnanimity they so obviously refused him. He glanced through it, and saw they were asking for his assistance in the matter of Rudolf Hess.

He chuckled to himself. In the last war, half the press had been convinced he was a German spy, but now he was being asked to perform a similar task for the usurper’s Government. How times had changed.

Only a few years ago, the same newspapers that had called him “the wickedest man in England” had been printing headlines like “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” and praising Herr Hitler’s wise governance. He wondered if, should the German invasion succeed, Rothermere’s papers would once again become the arse-licking lackeys of the German Führer. He suspected so.

Crowley had no great love for the Government headed by the supposed King, and the chaos and disruption caused by war were distractions from his meditative practices. He composed his reply bearing these factors, and others, in mind:


If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department, in case he should not be willing to do what you wish.

Col. J. F. C. Carter …, Thomas N. Driberg …, Karl J. Germer …, could testify to my status and reputation in these matters.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant Aleister Crowley.

After writing his response, he carefully burned the letter he had received, while chanting under his breath, before heading off to the post office.

This is an excerpt from my novel, Destroyer. If you like this chapter, please buy the book. It can be bought in hardback from Lulu. The Kindle and paperback editions are available from Amazon (UK) and (US). For non-Kindle ebook versions This Books2Read Universal Link will give you links for your preferred ebook retailer.

Tagged: destroyer
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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