The numbers racket

God may be in the detail, but the damnation’s in the numbers

It’s obvious that our police need some serious sex education. If you’ll pardon the S&M entendre here, they clearly don’t know the ropes in this area. There were 78,000 cases of rape in Britain last year, and just 1,030 convictions. And the only answer I can come up with as to why on this grey Saturday afternoon is that Plod doesn’t really understand the word and its connotations – as in, take possession of a woman unlawfully and by force, thus causing both immediate and long-term trauma. Or then again, force their hard willies into unwilling front-bottoms – and bash them about afterwards to add to the fun.

Plod’s performance in the rape sector is somewhat worse even than their achievement in the paedophile space, where around 200,000 kids are on the run during any given year to escape paedophile attentions, and the police estimate that of the 18,000 complaints made, there are at least twice as many where the victim stays silent. But this crop yielded 1,067 convictions – not bad at all considering.

I’m being ironic of course. It’s bloody awful. But very few important and/or famous people are raped, so there’s not much in sex-cases for the careerist. I was nearly raped in a toilet at 2 am on New Street station 46 years ago, but got away into the reassuring presence of two burly coppers. They were actually incredibly helpful, but that was then and this is now: and either way, the sense of being creepily unclean took ages to disappear.

Moving on from the important to the urgent, manufacturing activity in both France and Germany has now been contracting for 10
months in a row. In Spain, it’s contracted for 20 months in a row. In Greece, one in five bank loans is thought to be toxic. Nearly 40% of people under 25 in Italy are unemployed. French car output since 2005 has fallen 45%. And since 2006, the average house selling price in Spain has fallen 70%.

So it was with the hide of a rhino that Merkel CDU ally Gunther Krichbaum swanned into London this week, and warned Camerlot very severely that if there was any more blackmail about British desertion from the EU, Germany might take us at our word and say “Well go then”. As we can see, it was all going so well over there until the Englishe Lautmaulen started sounding off, so we just better jolly-well watch our p’s and q’s.

The huge downside of leaving the EU, of course, is that it would hand more power back to our MPs – who, it seems, want a pay rise, but can’t seem to agree about how much they need. It is rather telling, I think, that Tories think they’re worth £96,740 pa, whereas the Lib/Lab tendency rate their worth at a mere £78,000. How refreshing to see that greed is no longer a cross-Party stitch-up: we await a spirited debate on this going into the next election. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for a referendum about it.

Few documents are more packed full of numbers than a bank annual report, and several of the statistics therein have turned out to be true: not recently, however. Wells Fargo’s 2011 annual report is 236 pages long, and as Frank Partnoy and Jesse Eisinger amusingly record, it is ‘littered with language that says nothing, at length. The report is riddled with progressively more opaque footnotes—the financial equivalent of Dante’s descent into hell. Indeed, after the friendly introduction, the report ought to bear a warning to the inquisitive reader intent on truly understanding the bank’s financial positions: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”’

Almost $1.5 billion of WF’s “interest income” comes from “trading assets”, $9.1 billion from “securities available for sale.” One billion dollars of the bank’s “noninterest income” are “net gains from trading activities.” Another $1.5 billion is income from “equity investments.” Up and down the ledger, abstruse, all-embracing categories appear: “other fees earned from related activities,” “other interest income,” and just plain “other.” The income statement’s “other” catchalls collectively amount to $6.6 billion of Wells Fargo’s income in the year. The reader has to wait another fifty pages to find out that the bank derives a big chunk of that “other” income from  “trading activities.” So you could say that interest-traded security assets and net equity gains were not unrelated to other trading activities, where the other was distinct from the related non-trading activities of the noninterest fees available in security sales, trading assets notwithstanding. You could say that, and you’d be a fraud because I just made it up.

If you get the sense that someone’s trying to obfuscate big-time here, then you’re probably on the right track. So it is that a small note at the bottom of page 164 casually mentions the loss of $377million on CDO derivative trading as if this might have been a jolly jape at the works outing. It is, to be fair, small potatoes compared to the reserve balance of $148billion enjoyed by Wells Fargo, but this report – the more you delve into it – is a sort of ’38 piece Russian doll meets enigmatic riddle in ring of ether’ experience.

Dig this for example: “customer accommodation” is a stream of income identified by the bank. It made a billion dollars in fees for Wells Fargo. Now there are two points here: one, a billion bucks made from ‘helping’ customers might seem to some uncannily like helping yourself; but rather more to the point, the bank was making trades on behalf of the customer base. Look carefully, and the thorough reader spots that the size of those derivatives trades was a ginormous $2.8 trillion during 2011. Simple maths shows that this wipes out $148billion in reserves pdq…if something goes badly wrong.

Noughts are by far the biggest element in most bank numbers. From a standing start, they can rapidly start and end with nought. This is always worth bearing in mind. Applying that rule of thumb to other banks and situations can be even more mind-concentrating. At the height of the financial crisis in 2008, Deutsche Bank made some mind-boggling bets. As the WSJ reports, documents uncovered from the Libor rate manipulation investigation show bets that would swing EUR68 million on a 1bps shift in the Libor rate.

With the aplomb that only world-weary investigators can summon up, officials dismissed concerns about the scale involved “because the bank could influence the rates they were betting on.” There’s no arguing with that, really.

34 thoughts on “The numbers racket

  1. Although the police are no doubt piss poor in this area, the reality is, theres not much they can do.

    There arent exactly any statistics on how many drunks change their mind the morning after…..
    The government might have decided a drunk woman who jumps into the drivers seat is a criminal, yet a drunk woman who jumps into bed is a victim, but jurors havent.

    Excluding the relatively small number of cases where there is a clear level of violence used, rapes leaves little evidence.
    “Wasnt me guv” and “She said yes at the time” provide pretty solid levels of reasonable doubt.

    My barber met a lady on a dating website, it went swimmingly till she said “£500 or I’m phoning the police and crying rape”.

    Dont get me wrong, I’d happily flay the guilty….


  2. Germany and France are waking up to just how much it would cost them if we were to exit the EU.
    Astounding arrogance the Germans, and the US but, I suspect this is about the Europhiles starting their campaign against us leaving the EU, I notice that old dinosaur and first class twat Heseltine has stuck his oar in the water too. Expect to see a more concerted campaign soon.
    Oh, and hasn’t his name cropped up in some unusual places recently?


  3. Has anyone worked out the impact UK leaving would have on the EU financial state? I have a feeling that in the EU we have an overloaded camel dreading a single straw, and UK leaving would be an entire bale.

    Not that I believe Cameron wants UK to leave, nor does he want a referendum. He is playing a clever little game with the Europeans where they promise to make rude noises at him and he promises to make nasty speeches about them – but actually neither side will do anything as they are awaiting the treaties to go firm. At which point Cameron will say he tried but it is now legally impossible for the UK to leave and it no longer has the veto and majority voting means he has to do as he is told. The entire Cameron approach is to prevaricate but be shouted at as if he were doing something to keep favorable domestic poll ratings and hold back the flood leaving for the UKIP.


  4. Yes, the shameful employment and falliing output statistics from EU countries will eventually be the undoing of the whole farce. Growth will never be an option in Euroland. Too many laws, too much government and too many taxes.
    The coming referendum in UK will divide the nation as never before and raise much fiery and passionate debate. The cause for concern , as during national elections, is whether or not the populace will be sufficiently educated as to know where to mark the cross.
    There is only one certainty.
    Whatever happens,and any which way you like, we are getting poorer.
    In order not to be disappointed one should lower one’s expectations as we are at Peak Standard of Living right now.
    The best things in life are free ( and tax free).


  5. It will turn into a deluge I believe. And the biggest ‘drum bangers’ for UKIP are, laughably the EU itself, the more ridiculous the demands and delusions that they offer, the more support UKIP receives.


  6. And now this:
    Honda’s UK boss warns Britain must stay at heart of EU as it cuts 800 jobs
    Britain must retain a leading position within the European Union or face damaging economic consequences and risk losing valuable investment, the head of Honda in the UK has warned.
    We can expect much much more of this.
    Why would so-called CEO’s of successful multinationals insist that we stay at the heart of a dysfunctional, delusional, corrupt, un-democratic institution?
    Do they run their own businesses that way? I suspect not, or maybe they do.
    Some serious questions need to be asked of these people, it’s no good the media just reporting their opnion, they need to be interrogated thoroughly and facts put on view for all to see otherwise it’s just rhetoric.


  7. As announced in December 2011 , 500 new associates were recruited to began new roles at the plant in Swindon, bringing the total number of employees to 3,500 with the production volumes forecast to double to 180,000 units in 2012.


    Speaking in December, Honda Motor Europe President, Manabu Nishimae, said Honda remained totally committed to building cars and engines in Europe with Swindon at the heart of Honda’s European manufacturing activities.

    Oh dear, we got that wrong too….


  8. but Dave Hodgetts, Honda’s UK managing director knows what to tell the press, because Manabu Nishimae wrote the script…
    No room for yes men in this jungle.


  9. Well, at least Cameron has let the real debate, hidden for years, out into the light of day. Much stupidity, lies and prejudice will be heard and seen: how helpful is an implied threat from a German, of all things? You ain’t seen nothing yet. It all hinges on the credibility of the Euro – fail and UK will be seen as a saviour. Play the long game and see the enemy flounder in it’s own misguided dream.


  10. Unexpected dinner with senior Tory MP. Question. Are we in Europe or not ? Answer. In. Mind you, I’m not sure I received a straight answer all evening.


  11. Cabinet minister to me two years go: “Our future is inextricably linked to that of the EU. It would be madness to leave”.
    Tomorrow’s MoS has that as the fp headline… courtesy of one D. Cameron.


  12. It all seemed so harmless and amusing back then,, now it feels as if we have lost something irreplaceable – even if it’s only the ability to laugh at ourselves in that way, comfortably.


  13. Cameron is engaged in a can-kicking exercise to keep himself in office until 2015. He knows that is the end of it for the Tories. All he needs to do is to string the Parliamentary party on until then.


  14. Spot on. I remember a copper commenting that the average rape case involved interviewing some bemused bloke on a Monday morning after the woman developed regrets after a one-night stand.

    The vast majority of rape cases are about trying to prove what happened between a man and a woman in a private bedroom. If the woman is seen drinking with or happily walking back to the guy’s place, there’s no commotion reported by neighbours when the rape is alleged to have taken place, and the “victim” doesn’t have a mark on her, no jury in their right mind would convict.

    The claim about two-thirds of rapes not being reported is BS as well. How do you derive such a figure? You could just as easily claim 10,000 people in the UK are abducted by aliens each year, it just goes unreported. You could claim that 20 times as many men are assaulted by women as is reported, because of the stigma of being thumped by the missus. Heck, why not make it 100 times? There’s a pandemic of hubby-bashing going on out there, it’s just not being reported.

    In cases where women have clearly been dragged into cars or bushes, been bashed into submission, been heard crying for help, when there’s been signs of a struggle, no problem, lock their scumbag assailants away.

    By the same token, women who falsely accuse guys of rape should be locked up too. All too often, these accusations lead to marriage break-ups and guys losing their jobs, even when the case is too paper thin to ever make it to court. A woman recently got two years jail for falsely crying rape. Should be more of it.


  15. Europe exports its unemployment to the UK (as witnessed by the Poles, Spanish etc who are there in droves) which in turn leads to the UK keeping its own welfare dependents at home, while borrowing massively to fund its welfare programme for working age adults.
    Pity the likes of Duncan Smith and Cameron don’t take this into account whilst dishing out the next kicking to the unfortunate in your society.
    Then, Afghanistan, what’s that costing and why?, not to mention the unnecessary waste of British lives.
    We’re thinking of taking the new baby to settle in Africa, but undecided where yet.


  16. AFRICOM’s [the U.S. military’s Africa command] goal is to eliminate China and other countries influence in the region. Africa’s natural resources is another important element to consider because it includes oil, diamonds, copper, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, bauxite, silver, petroleum, certain woods and tropical fruits.
    The French gambit with essential UK logistical backing is only the opening move into the next theatre of global power struggles.
    Stay tuned and watch this space.


  17. AFRICOM’s [the U.S. military’s Africa command] goal is to eliminate China and other countries influence in the region. Africa’s natural resources is another important element to consider because it includes oil, diamonds, copper, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, bauxite, silver, petroleum, certain woods and tropical fruits.
    The French gambit with essential UK logistical backing is only the opening move into the next theatre of global power struggles.
    Stay tuned and watch this space.


  18. Personally I think we should pull the lot, leave the EU, UN security council and NATO. I dont want to pay taxes for foreign wars. Just say sucks yah boo to the US and push the falklands to full independance.


  19. Will you and your Kommandant be starting a new Afrika Korps in Rhodesia once the new bunkers been dug out and made ready?
    Uncle Bob will be so happy to have you back home once again.


  20. @ Mark
    ha, that was the troll who invented all that nonsense. He / she seems to have gone quiet recently since I set the dogs on them.
    No, sometime later this year we’re travelling in our lorry with all our gear, and will stop and settle when we find good conditions politically and economically south of the equator…Kenya and beyond.
    My husband is a butcher so it is likely we will start a food business. He is away on a Bushcraft course at the moment.


  21. “The claim about two-thirds of rapes not being reported is BS as well. How do you derive such a figure? ”
    Presumably counting admissions into the rape crisis / morning after pill centres.

    The usual story is “He drugged me”, the problem with that story being that alcohol causes black outs, not rohypnol…


  22. I wonder which money tree Cameron has plucked to fund this one ? The contingency fund – which costs the taxpayer nothing (according to him) maybe ?
    Still maybe he plans to sell the rights to his smiling/handshaking Francoise photo shoot for zillions and thus pay for his ‘popularity pose’ himself….. meanwhile – perhaps the French would like to send their aircraft to Afghanistan (or maybe Port Stanley) on our soldiers/countries behalf……….. When I ask, did the French ever do anything to support ‘the UK responsabilities’ overseas ? Why would we do so now for them ? Has Cameron been ‘ordered’ by some (new and secret) EU Army chief to do so ? Oh and why has Billy Vague got it so wrong supplying goodies to Syrians to overthrow its hated government….But won’t allow the UK people the same opportunity :)


  23. Perhaps you are right……. and Camerons long term (for him, about 10 seconds) game is to introduce employment opportunities for the UK youngsters (and maybe it the EU gameplan) by introducing so many conflicts in so many places that National service can be reintroduced and so ‘create jobs’ for anyone under the age of 40 (though with increased life expectancy and the future pensions issue – he’ll probably make 70 the closing age)…… thus he will be doing something…………. and lets face it, he does not give a sh1t whether what he is doing is right……… just whether ‘he thinks it is right’. Mind you, ‘thinking’ and Cameron seem to be distant relations………. who have probably only met once, at a funeral !


  24. I would totally agree with the EU and UN, not so much NATO though we should be insisting it become again what it was set up to be……. an international defence treaty for ‘the North Atlantic arena’ and to prevent the EUropean wars of the past…… As to policing the world……… no !


  25. It is a good piece which explains how the numbers are constructed to portray the picture which is desired. (No mention that it included male rapes either – of which most occur in prisons……..and where most rapes occur in society !)

    One could have just as easily used the same figures (based on the absolutely ridiculous concept on which our whole legal system resides – that people are innocent until PROVEN guilty) to point out that out of 95K accusations of rape only 1.5K were real ! It all depend on the propaganda the viewpoint is required to portray.

    And yes, I would support the highest levels of punishment for anyone convicted of rape………..male or female (unlike the ‘Harmon type feminist principle’ that male (anal) rape is much less serious than vaginal and so anal rape should attract a lesser punishment !)….. This wasn’t really said was it ? Oh yes it was ! Or that “male prison rape is ‘part of the punishment’ and so shouldn’t be given too much consideration”………. from another well known and popular (US feminist politician).


  26. Professor, AFRICOM’s [the U.S. military’s Africa command] goal is to eliminate China and other countries influence in the region. Africa’s natural resources is another important element to consider because it includes oil, diamonds, copper, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, bauxite, silver, petroleum, certain woods and tropical fruits.

    Cutting and pasting from ZH, verbatim, to appear intelligent…is…?


  27. What makes you think the cops are there to stop crime or for that matter to caught criminals? Their function is to protect property. The majority of police in the UK if America can be used as an example is to provide revenue for those that hire them and and at times to clean up the mess after a crime….unless a cop is shot.

    I have seen hours of TV watching cops standing guns drawn behind their safe police cars as kids came screaming out of Northern Illinois Univesity and Virgina Tech. They didn’t venture into the buildings until told the shooters were dead.


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