CIty of the Damned: Zombie bankers roaming the planet?
Roll Up! Roll Up!! For the chamber of horrors of international finance, you are sure to get your money's worth - and that's saying something when bankers are involved.
Ready to be terrified out of your economic wits? The centrepiece of our ghoul-fest is still the maggot-ridden hulk that is the Lehman Bros self-immolation surrounded by HD big screens replaying the 9/11 moment as Dick Fuld and his band of merry financial jihadis crashed the Twin Towers of Banking and Greed, played on a nausea-inducing loop. Pure carnage, ladies and gentlemen.
From this point in the dungeon of the never-ending banking nightmare, there is a plethora of sideshows to chill the soul of any law-abiding taxpayer. These zombies of financial orgies past include Citi, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns, AIG and Countrywide. Down the end of the cell block, past the short-selling hedgie sucking on the bones of human misery - all legal, ladies and gentlemen - catch of glimpse of Mad Madoff of Ponzi rattling his chains with only eternal damnation and a 150-year jail sentence to look forward to.
Of particular fascination is our living exhibit - the Great Vampire Squid (Scientific name: Goldman Sachs). This predators' predator, a real monster indeed, might have had a couple of tentacles ripped out by furious visitors but it remains in rude health. Listen to the bloodcurdling smack of its lips as it watches its competitors writhe in agony, salivating at the ever greater piece of the rotting pie of global finance it will gorge upon. Pure evil, ladies and gentlemen.
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'What's that over yonder, my good man?' you ask. Scotch mist? No sir, that sickly, sludgy apparition is the remains of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Can you hear that painful wail? Ha, Ha! Bagpipes, ribald stuff, sir. No - that is the sound of the executive board making pathetic excuses for murdering a bank and leaving a rotting corpse for the UK taxpayer. If you're lucky you'll catch a glimpse of a strange, rat-like creature, Mr Fred Goodwin. Keep a close eye on the back door and watch him make a dash for the exit clutching a big pot marked "PENSION".
As we continue the tour, please do not become alarmed by a faint noxious smell. That's just the boys down at the Deutsche Bank sideshow fixing the carbon emissions trading market.
This way to the rogues' gallery. Stare into the soulless eyes of some of the most disreputable lags ever to pull on a Savile Row suit. There's the enfant terrible of Société Générale, Jérôme Kerviel (losses €4.9bn) and James "Captain Ahab" Dimon, the great helmsman of JP Morgan, sunk in ignominy by the London Whale (losses $2bn).
Our latest horrible image has just been framed. It's big, bad Bob Diamond, don of the Barclays syndicate, before a firing squad - called the House of Commons' select committee on Libor fixing. He certainly died a horrible death that day. No laughing, thank you.
Bob Diamond (Reuters)
What's that, madame? Financial instruments of torture, oh yes, so many to choose from. The rack(et) of PPI was probably the most widely used. Millions had their pockets stretched to breaking point paying exorbitant sums to insure their bills would be paid in the event of redundancy or illness. But that's when the torment really began, death by a thousand sub-clauses in the small print you see, as the banks refusal to pay shoving the innocents into the abyss. Lloyds were the biggest PPI (payment protection insurance) perverts - quite correct madame, now the burden is on the UK taxpayer to compensate itself for being ripped off. Quick sir! I fear the poor lady is about to faint!
On the first floor you will find our new learning zone which we were able to create with a job-lot of fixtures and fittings from defunct branches of Northern Rock. Sit at our interactive trading desk and learn how to rig the Libor rate or help billionaires evade tax - don't worry: your grandchildren will make up the difference.
There's a replica laundry where you can play at washing money for the murderous Mexican drug cartels, or an introduction to the craft of stuffing ill-gotten cash into suitcases. Let the kids join in sticking on '"Welcome to a Nuclear Iran" and "Save the Banker" labels.
If your feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the 'orrible crimes we've exposed you to please feel free to enjoy a repast at our 'Cooking the Books' canteen. The house speciality is a dish called Revenge - best served cold.
Refreshed and ready to ride the financial doomsday machine once more, please don't miss our latest cheap thrill of madness and mayhem - UBS: The Hot Mess.
We've coveted this veritable monstrosity ever since the original Nightmare on Wall Street when this Swiss Frankenstein vomited up grotesque ($50bn) losses, a putrid confection of sub-prime mortgages, Ninja loans and CDOs.
Kept alive by the dark arts conjured up by the Swiss National Bank, chanting the black mass mantra "Too big to fail, too big to fail", the Golem of Zurich was then caught with its trousers down servicing the obscene tax fantasies of America's super-rich. A United States Senate panel accused Swiss banks, including UBS, of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes through offshore accounts, and calculated the total cost of this practice as being in excess of US$100bn annually. UBS agreed to pay a fine of $780m to the US government and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding the Internal Revenue Service.
Kweku Abodoli (Reuters)
But 2012 saw UBS: the Sequel. The lunatics had truly taken over the asylum in the shape an anonymous trader on the sinister-sounding Global Synthetic Equities Trading team. Despite dangerous delusions that the bank had reformed itself, Kweku Adoboli was able to lose $2bn before any of his overpaid managers noticed.
Meanwhile, the monster started devouring its own babies, sacking 10,000 employees in a night of the long knives, which saw UBS's financial stormtroopers locked out of the black magic kingdom, their office passes deactivated, the poor devils.
The final element in this unholy trinity was a record $1.5bn fine for rigging Libor. A stake through its dark heart? Perish the thought - UBS is the finest example of the banking living dead, an indestructible parasite that makes the cockroach look like a lightweight.
Before leaving to escape the befouled atmosphere of Bankers' World, please exit through the gift shop. On special offer today is the tome by Karl (No) Marx, Socialism for the Very, Very Rich, a download of Abba's Money, Money, Money, and novelty toilet paper recycled from the share certificates of Northern Rock, HBOS, Lloyds and RBS.
(Barmey and Bailiff Productions are pleased to announce a new venture for 2013. Hacked to Bits, situated just of Fleet Street, this bloodbath of egos and reputations will feature a replica of the News International Death Star with a fully animatronic Darth Murdoch. Discounted entrance if you can prove your mobile phone messages were bugged)
Julian Kossoff is the Managing Editor of IBTimes UK
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