Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Quantitative Sleazing

"I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of twenty pounds..."

We recognise those words, do we not, ladies and gentlemen? But what do they mean? I'll tell you. They mean, when you present a note, a twenty pound note, that's exactly what you're entitled to: the sum of twenty pounds. You could view it as a binding contract."

"Hello. I am an exceedingly important member of the Bank of All England. And I help determine monetary policy. I have come here today to talk to you about quantitative easing and its applications. Now, quantitative easing is something we at the Bank undertake when there is a recession - when the economy is in the doldrums and we want to spice things up a bit. It is then, and only then, we resort to quantitative easing - or to give it its old fashioned title - printing money."

"We have to print this money, folks, because a slowing of the money supply has resulted in a lack of economic activity. At times like these, people are not of a mind to open their wallets and spend their hard earned cash. And this lack of spending, or should I say, lack of a desire to spend, simply perpetuates stagnation.

"So we at the Bank take it upon ourselves to increase the money supply and, consequently, economic activity, by printing money and allowing it to circulate through the economy. We are of the opinion that this will get things moving, free up the system, loosen the old bowels of the economy if you will. Banks can start trading this money with other banks, and, with no less an entity than the government itself. And this semblance of activity will make ordinary folk assume that the stale old economy has sprung back into life. They will become confident that "happy days are here again" and they will start spending their own cash. It worked in Weimar Germany and in Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwe. And indeed, we think it should, similarly, work here.

"Now there are of course some naysayers, some pessimists, who will suggest that this is all a con. They'll point out it's all well and good having a binding contract saying "we promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of twenty pounds". But what's the point of such a contract if what's promised has been diluted, watered down, by the person who made the promise in the first place? These cynics suggest it's like buying a bottle of malt whisky for twenty pounds, only to find the whisky has been watered down to the point where it tastes like donkey urine. Indeed there are others who state, with some temerity in my view, that the only people who benefit are the investment bankers who merrily trade this "new money" and make fat commissions on their trades."

"And though I may sympathise with these sentiments, might I ask: Do you have any better ideas? For it is all well and good bashing bankers. But these bankers are the lifeblood of our nation - as well they demonstrated back in 2008. Might I also remind you that, though we may live in a democracy, this does not mean that you, the people, have any say over monetary policy. Indeed not! You have not the slightest understanding of monetary policy. Nor should you. That is why you employ fine men (and women) like me and my associates to handle such complex affairs - as indeed we did so convincingly in 2008!"

"So I say: Leave monetary policy to the people who know about these things, to the people who have spent their lives deciding such matters. We at the Bank of All England have demonstrated on countless occasions that we, and we alone, know how to wreck, then rescue the economy. You, the people, have not the faintest idea how to engineer the wonderful monetary roller-coaster we have seen in recent years. And nor should you!

"And so I will end my peroration by saying to you: You, the people... you should look after the pennies. And The Bank - The Bank of All England - shall indeed look after itself."

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bean counter

The Bank of England's deputy governor Charlie Bean has urged the country to spend like there were no tomorrow to boost the economy. Speaking to Channel 4 News last night, he said he wanted to see people "not saving more but spending more."

His comments have raised eyebrows - it is widely accepted that a policy of unchecked spending was responsible for the financial crisis of 2008. To some this is simply an attempt to re-inflate the bubble that burst so spectacularly back then.

"What I am not advocating is a return to boom and bust. I'm saying that the only way to get us out of this bust is a return to boom - which is entirely different."

"We need to spend, spend, spend. I say: Don't hoard all your money in silly old bank accounts. Go out and fritter it away on items you don't really need, like iFads and expensive watches? Isn't it about time you traded in that old banger and bought a brand new car that'll start depreciating as soon as you get it out of the showroom? And what about houses and DIY? I see that property programmes are making a come back. Well now's the time to buy a new house. Let's face it, you can only lose out if property prices go down. Otherwise you're as safe as houses."

"Marx once said: Men make their own histories, but not always in circumstances of their own choosing. Well, we at the Bank of England have always made our own histories, but we have done so in a dog's dinner of our own choosing. Let's face it, we're the experts and you people should hang on our every word, just as you did during the last boom which served you well until it all went horribly wrong!"

"And I'll tell you something else. After I received my massive bonus this year, I didn't go and bung it in a savings account. No! I went straight out and bought an iFad. Needless to say, I don't know what to do with it, but wherever I go everybody looks at me enviously and thinks I'm wonderful. Now you too can be wonderful. Dust off that moldy old bank account, take out your life savings and blow it all on Rolex watches, BMWs and Internet gambling. And if you have any money left over, follow my lead and buy an iFad. You won't regret it (until tomorrow). Happy days are here again..."

(This statement is endorsed by the makers of iFad - "Bringing thousands of pointless apps into your living room!")

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Brothers Grim

Once upon a time there were two brothers named Ed and Dave. And they had a father called Ralph who was a famous academic. Ed and Dave wanted to be different from their father and forge a "new style of politics."

Dave said: "We're better read than Dad and we know politics is about tough decisions."

Ed replied: "Yes we need to make our own way in life and to be seen to be young and thrusting."

Dave, who was a neophiliac replied. "I agree, brother. New is the new old."

Ed then added: "Or is old the new new?"

Dave looked troubled and said: "Maybe you're right brother. But then again, who cares? We just want to get into power."

The truth was that neither brother was really that new. They had both been part of a gang called the "New Has-Beens" which had made a name for itself maxing out credit cards and engaging in globalised gang warfare. When the old gang leader called Gordon decided he'd had enough of this warfare, the brothers Grimiband (as they were known) fought to take over the gang. But first they had to take on the might of Ed "Absolute" Balls and "Steak" Diane, who was so-named because of her fondness for steaks. They also had to take on Andy Birnham Wood, who wasn't much of a foe, so they ignored him.

But the stakes were high. They knew that by leading the gang they could make loads of money. So they set out to raise their public profiles by turning the leadership election into a soap opera. They saw that this approach had worked for their predecessors Tony and Gordon. And so it should work for them.

"I'll pretend to be on the right," said Dave

"And I'll pretend to be on the left," said Ed.

"And then everybody will think we're more interesting." they proclaimed in unison.

But the truth was that neither brother was very interesting. They had both been "yes-men" in the Gordon's gang and had never really distinguished themselves. Their idea of "new thinking" was employing the services of "think-tanks" which peddled lots of redundant ideas that were ultimately responsible for the decline of their gang. But they didn't really care. They knew they could still make lots of money for themselves and their friends, because they had a secret weapon. It was called the "Magic Revolving Door". And that was the ultimate prize of leading gangs.

"Never forget the Magic Revolving Door, brother," said Dave. "And if we continue with this soap opera, we will one day achieve it."

"Yes," replied Ed. "All I think about all day is the Magic Revolving Door. For that is what leading the gang is all about."

"But I've just had a thought, brother."

"Yes, brother?"

"Maybe we should call it something else - so people don't suspect we're just greedy."

"I agree brother, but what should we call it?"

"I know," said Dave. "Let's call it the New Magic Revolving Door."

"That's brilliant brother. No one will ever suspect."

And so the brothers set out to portray themselves as young and thrusting and very, very new and very interesting, and everyone knew that one of them would win the crown one day. And one of them inevitably did, but that is the subject of the next chapter as we shall discover.

Sleep well, everyone.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

No brain drainer

There are fears millions of corporate "fat cats" will leave the country and head for sunnier climes after Business Secretary Vince Cable declared war on the excesses of capitalism. Cable will today announce a government inquiry into the "murky world of corporate behaviour" and "corporate short-termism."

Said one senior executive: "We never liked Britain anyway. The climate's rubbish and we'd prefer to experience the joys of the Far-East during monsoon. Anyway, UK property prices have little upside right now and Chelsea is full of oriental speaking people. Also the kids hate their cosy little private schools and would prefer to lose all their friends and live in Shanghai instead."

Said another: "Cable is mad. Doesn't he realise that all we'll do is up sticks and take our toxic products to the Far East or any country that'll pay us inordinate amounts of money. In Asia they missed out on the full effects of the credit crunch. These were exciting times and we're sure they'd love the "economic meltdown experience".

Monday, 20 September 2010

What has Nick Clegg ever done for us (Liberals)?

Apart from returning the party to power for the first time in sixty five years, obtaining key roles in the coalition government, being at the centre of policy making (influencing everything from civil liberties to the taxation of "off-shore" plutocrats), having overseen the best attended conference in living memory (even the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson was there), and helping to roll back the legacy of New Labour's thirteen malign years in office.... what has the Liberal leader, Nick Clegg ever done for us (for us liberals)?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Language is the root of all evil

Coming soon: An exploration of language...

Concept: Religion is... just language (the language of morality). Anything that seeks to define, to understand the world is language. Science, ideology, like religion, are languages. It's how you apply language that defines whether it is evil or not. You can use it to abuse, justify torture, castigate, persecute... or just plain irritate.

"Go forth and multiply." (Genesis)... what could possibly be evil about that?

More, later this week...

On other pages - What's in a nickname... a swearword... an insult? We have in-depth analysis from one of our "foreign correspondents" and after giving the question some really quite serious consideration, she concludes: "Fuck knows."

Friday, 17 September 2010


News in brief...


"... lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can't masturbate without lust."

So says the poster girl of the Republican Tea Party Christine O' Donnell. And at a stroke she has alienated the majority of ordinary masturbating folk. The exceptions can only be:-

- Those too busy smoking cigarettes to have time to masturbate.

- Anyone needing both hands to operate their PC, laptop or IPod.

- Anyone with poor wrist action, or poor hand to eye co-ordination

- Anyone who doesn't know what goes on "down below".

- Anyone with an extremely short attention span

Said one Republican aide upon hearing Ms. O' Donnell's outburst: "Uh, oh. There goes the self-abuse vote."

Old hat

Labour leadership nominees will soon be debating how to "re-brand" the party - and most important of all - what to call it. "New" Labour is considered very "last season" and it is accepted that a new name is needed to indicate a clear break with the past. Here are some options that might emphasise that break

- Democratic Labour

- Real Labour

- Clean Labour

- Whiter than White Labour

- Honest Labour

- Transparent Labour

- The Peoples' Labour

- Hard Labour

- Keir? Hardly!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Plastic androids, plastic culture

The feminist Camille Paglia laid into pop icon Lady Gaga over the weekend, arguing she's a confected copycat - "a marionette... a plasticised android". But is Gaga just a symptom of our increasingly plasticised culture? Let's face it, most of what punters buy these days is fake, commercial, and little benefit to society.

But what are the other by-products of this "relativistic cultural vacuum" - as Paglia calls it? Here's a snap-shot:-

Plastic childhood - It starts early on. Most parents grimace round Christmas when they're bombarded with ads for children's toys - from plastic dolls to overpriced games - not least because they know they'll end up forking out for them. They also know these toys will last a couple of months at best, before they're disgarded at the back of the toy cupboard. And it doesn't get better. Later on there are computer games, iPods and other electronic "must-haves".

Plastic Homes - Property programmes fronted by plastic experts like Sarah Beeny and Kirstie Allsop have fuelled the hopes of millions who dream of living like kings... or celebs... or, at least, plutocrats. Well, everyone has to dream, eh?.

Plastic Pop - Gaga is a not alone amongst pop icons. Much that the young latch onto these days is fabricated. Teen idols are churned out in their droves by impresarios like Simon Cowell. The formula is: fashion model, erotic clothing, vacuous but catchy jingles, electronic voice manipulation. Talents shows like X-Factor simply perpetuate this malaise, while also giving the young something to which they can "aspire".

Plastic Art - BritArt is hardly a creative industry... conceptual perhaps, but low concept at that and for the most part intellectually untaxing. Many of the big names conceive of pretty ropey, self-serving installations, then have them knocked up at some factory in the Midlands. The key to their success is branding - what's in a name? - as that great benefactor of BritArt, Mr. Saatchi, would surely agree.

Plastic Science - The cosmetics industry is the "appliance of science" at its most absurd. Gratuitous chemical "compounds" sell eternal youth to desperate punters. Examples: Radiance Renewal (with watercress extract), Get up and Glow (with polypeptides), Age-Defying Serum (with beech tree buds, hibiscus and yeast)... to name but a few.

Plastic Power - Female empowerment didn't begin in the sixties, or with the suffragettes for that matter. It actually began when women discovered classy shoes that revealed who they were and how empowered they could be. In fact, these poor souls have simply been handing over their hard earned cash to buy into a dream, making various wealthy (male) shoe-makers much, much wealthier.

Plastic Politics - These days third-rate politicians love to hang out with celebs in order to hide their personal failings and to ingratiate themselves with "the people". Many of us just scoff, or look on... or cringe. But then again, even politicians should aspire to being "cool". Should they not?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Your money is our money; our money is our money

Hi, my name's Bob. People back home call me Off-Shore Bob - for reasons that'll  never be obvious, ha-ha. And today I want to talk to you about this awesome phenomenon we call globalisation.

Globalisation, as you folks will surely know by now, has brought the entire world to our doorstep. It's brought wonderful gadgets, like computers from China, through which you guys have been able to manage and maintain your addiction to social networking sites, to computer games, to cyber-bullying, and of course to drugs, politics and pornography. It has brought you mobile android technology - also from China - which has given every man woman and child in the West the right and the freedom to send, for the most part, pointless texts, thereby ridding us of the urge to perpetuate that old dinosaur we once called the "vocal and personal interactive contact medium".

But the greatest thing globalisation has brought us is money, cheap and easy money and the freedom to gamble all that money away on anything from "liars loans" to high-risk special purpose investment vehicles (That's quite a mouthful, ain't it?)

And how has this been made possible? I'll tell you how. Solely and quite uniquely through the ingenuity of the global investment banking community. Do I hear you all laughing? Perhaps I do. Are you all thinking: Hey wait a minute, these guys brought the Western economies to their knees in late Spring 2008?And these guys made even more millions out of quantitative easing, whilst everyone else was suffering, watching their savings diluted because their pounds and dollars became less valuable. And these guys paid themselves huge bonuses whilst everyone else starved. Yes, I've heard all the old arguments, the old chestnuts, if you like.

But, hello, girls and boys? Who exactly is it who's gonna get you out of this mess? Who's gonna re-inflate that bubble, I mean, economy? Who's gonna provide the liquidity that'll get the world back on its feet? Well, some jokers might say: Not bankers, because they haven't changed one bit and they'll simply carry on doing what they did before - first restricting their lending, later pumping up a fake recovery and then vamoosing once more with their ill-gotten gains. But I say that's bull. Where would you all be without us? You might hate us, but you'll need us one day. Money brings and always has brought recovery. It's simply the lack of money that screws everything up - as we saw in 2008. And it's only a globalised money supply that will get us back to those heady days of the late nineties and the noughties, when you could buy your houses and your cars and your holidays and live a grand old life.

And I say it's lucky some of us bankers did in fact vamoose and squirrel away our money in off-shore bank accounts. Because it is we who now live to fight another day. We can return like conquering heroes with our off-shore capital, the better to re-invigorate and revitalize your stale old economies.

And so, I end on this note: The secret to globalisation is ensuring guys like us with our off-shore accounts are permitted to maintain a clear divide between what is globally available and what is personally inaccessible. Global money supply should not, should never mean our money is available - hey, not unless we want it to be. We're gonna need that money some day to help you guys out. Look at the all those fine gentlemen who ran Lehman Brothers. You might not like them much, cos of the part they played in the global meltdown. But only because they squirreled away their hundreds of millions when that noble US institution went down, can they return like kings to help you guys now you're in trouble. Think of it as like paying something back to society.

And what shall we call this wondrous phenomenon that allows your money to be our money and our money to be our money. Well, I'd like to call it Off-Shore Globalisation. Yep, that's a quite a name to conjure with, boys and girls, ain't it? It's been a round for a while now, and it ain't going away - you have my guarantee on that. And, you know what?  It's gonna bring you guys salvation. Because, Off-Shore Globalisation really is quite a card to play. In fact, it's just a shame it wasn't around back in the time of Jesus Christ. Then he couldn't have thrown us kindly money-lenders outta the temple. Or else, if he had, we'd have just gone away to build our own temple. Maybe we have.

Anyway, good luck with your economies, suckers. See you round...

Ciao, Off-Shore Bob x

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Those public sector jobs...

The coalition has promised to save tax-payers millions by doing away with superfluous public sector jobs. No-one will escape the chop - the cuts will apply to public sector chieftains ("quangocrats") and local council employees alike. But what exactly are these jobs? And shall we ever see their like again? Here's a snapshot...


Baroness Deirdre Dreary - Chairperson of the Road Transport Lighting Authority - Played a pivotal role in ensuring the upkeep and maintenance of the country's cats-eyes. Her major achievement was the introduction of the intermittent metallic green and apricot cats-eyes that are the talk of much of Northern England and East Glasgow.

Doctor Christopher Smithie - Chair of the European E-Numbers Advisory Agency - After a meteoric rise through Middlesborough council in the 90s, Sir Christopher got his lucky break with the E-Numbers agency that ensures councils across the land are at all times aware of new E-Numbers coming onto the market. He achieved praise for his report on the "Health and Safety Implications on E-Number Non-Awareness" which has since been widely distributed to a range of councils from Solihull to Tyneside.

Dame Christine Crappe - Chairperson of the International Waste Management and Lavatorial Action Programme - Christine has had enormous success at the organisation, set up to consider different approaches to defecatory recycling initiatives in England and Wales. Whilst under her helm, the organisation came up with the revolutionary idea of "Portable Excrement Recycle Buckets" which are designed to encourage ordinary people to keep hold of their waste products for later utilisation. To this end she co-ordinates on a daily basis with the Allottment Fertilisation and Development Institute that is, as it happens, run by her husband Sir Derek Arsington

Local councils

- Totem Pole Advisory Co-ordinator Grade 2 - Demanding role, will ensure the council's totem pole dancers comply with both international European Totem Pole Safety Directive 33558 and European Ethnicity and Diversity Directive 3472893.

- International Water Cooling and Paper Cups Co-ordinator Mark 3 - Key job within the council, high pressure but also richly rewarding. You will be involved in sourcing water cooling and paper cup dispensing devices internationally and at all times ensure that the council employees are suppied with cool, fresh, ethically sourced water. The role will involve a lot of foreign travel.

- Spiritual Well-Being Officer Level 9 - Richly challenging and hugely rewarding role ensuring that council employees have at their disposal a range of spiritual well-being solutions at all times. You will be expected to negotiate with make-over artists, masseuses, and council-trained Tarot card readers in order to secure their services for the general spiritual well-being of council employees thereof.

- Refuse and Local Services Information Retrieval and Processing Officer Level 98 - One of the most important roles within the council. You will be expected to ensure that householders using local services from refuse to schooling facilities comply with council directive 273837b at all times. This is a high pressure job which accounts for the extremely generous benefits and bonus scheme associated with the role.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Science, Gods, and Rock and Roll

Modern Faith Studies: Key-Stage Nine Thousand and Ninety Nine Million

Answer as many multiple choice questions as you can in the time allotted:

1. Rome wasn't built in a day means the following:-

a) Rome was built in seven days
b) One day, Rome won't discriminate against women and gays
c) If it hadn't been for Emperor Constantine, the Vatican would be based in Marbella
d) The Roman Empire was around before Christ and it didn't do them any harm

2. God didn't create the universe means the following:

a) The universe was formed out of string
b) The laws of physics created the universe
c) Scientists have strung together a theory to explain the universe
d) Rome wasn't built in a day (or seven days)

3. People believe in God because:

a) They can't think of anything else to believe in
b) They don't believe everything scientists tell them
c) They find the Bible an easier read than Stephen Hawking
d) If they didn't believe in God they'd have to believe in football, pop celebrities and the joy of consumer goods

4. Religion and science are:-

a) Branded goods - you buy them or you move along the shopping aisle and buy something else
b) Belief systems - you sign up to a lot of stuff you don't really understand
c) Capable of filling a void in the lives of ordinary people because they explain the unknown
d) Something you sign up to, because everyone has to believe in something, don't they?

5. Religion and Science are both, in their own way, rackets because,

a) They are both ways of selling mumbo-jumbo to the public
b) They make a lot of money for their evangelists
c) They make governments waste lots of money on useless experiments
d) Where would the Hadron collider be without the "God" particle?

6. Individuals will believe what they want to believe, irrespective of what anyone tells them because:

a) In the end they usually do
b) In the end they usually do
c) In the end they usually do
d) In the end they usually do

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

New lay bores

Ballot papers for the Labour leadership have gone out today and even though four out of the five contenders are retreads from the last discredited Labour government, political pundits are already wetting themselves with excitement. Whatever else they may say, one thing's for sure: This contest promises to be one of the most gripping since Iain Duncan Smith won the conservative leadership campaign back in 2001.

But who exactly are the contenders, and what do they stand for? Here is our run-down:-

David Miliband - Known to his colleagues as "Camp David." Son of a revolutionary socialist and a leading light of the last Brown government. David is a proponent of what they're calling "New Marxism" that believes in embracing the market and giving large amounts of money to wealthy bankers. Says David: "It is clear that Marxism needs to be rebranded, and what better a way of doing this than by "changing the world" as Marx himself so aptly put it." Dave's strategy is to carry on doing what he was doing before but with "renewed vigour and compassion." It is clear that he is the one to watch (if you've misplaced your sleeping pills).

Ed Miliband - Known to his colleagues as "Time for bed, ZZZebEdee". Son of a revolutionary socialist and a leading light of the Brown government. Edward is a proponent of what they're calling "Green Marxism" that believes politicians, rather than bull-dozing the countryside, should cover it in wind-farms. Says Edward: "It is clear that my father's Marxism is due for an overhaul and that means - wait for it - green is the new red". Ed won the adoration of crowds recently at the Pamplona bull-run when he waved a green rag in front of a bull and it humourously ignored him. He is definitely the one to watch (when you're bored watching his brother).

Ed Balls - Known to colleagues as "Balls" on account of his humourous surname. Close friend of the former prime minister Gordon Brown. Ed believes only through a process of vigourous renewal can the Labour party renew and re-invigourate itself. He says: "We in the Labour party have lost sight of the fact that politics can be exciting and visionary. But I'll be blown if I know how to make that happen." Ed has won respect in many quarters for his original surname, which, if elected, he promises to draw regularly upon to help renew and re-invigourate politics.

Andy Burnham - Known to his colleagues as "Trouble at Millbank". Although considered an outsider, Andy will be within spitting distance of the leadership if the other candidates stand down. Andy is a no-nonsense Northerner, who cherishes his roots and believes they are his passport to success up North. He says: "One thing I do know. The Labour party has its roots up North, and God-willing, that is where it will have its final resting place." Andy is determined, if elected leader, to re-invigourate the ancient Northern art of cloth-caps and whippets.

Diane Abbott - Known to her colleagues as "That big fat hypocrite who sent her kids to public school". Diane is a rank outsider but considered a shoo-in in the event of everyone else getting bored and giving up. Says Diane: "I'm not in favour of coronations. Look where it got Gordon. But if the other candidates stood down and begged me, it's inconceivable I'd refuse the crown." Despite her misgivings about coronations, Diane is known to love coronation chicken which she tries to eat "at least five times a day". She never leaves home without her portable microwave which she considers invaluable when she's "a tad peckish on the campaign trail". She adds: "One thing's for sure: No one ever lost an election through having a big appetite - nor for being a big fat hypocrite for that matter."