July 17th, 2009

credit crunch, recession, commerce

The Bizarreness of Banks

I've been thinking a lot recently about banks and the way they interact with society, and the more I think about them the more bizarre the concept seems.

So, on the surface, they hold on to the excess money of the rich and lend it to the poor, which sounds a good thing, as it's taking a resource from those that have more then they need and sharing it with those that are short.

However, given these are large companies, their main focus is profit. They need the money from the rich to invest to do this, so they need to encourage the rich to leave it with them and hence pay them a small fee for this and likewise charge a fee for loaning to the poor.

The result being that although there is a temporary flow of money from rich to poor through the bank, the longer-term flow of money goes the other way from those that need it to those who don't. In effect, we seem to have built wealth inequality amplifiers and placed them centrally within our society.

OK, things are a bit different with the co-op and building societies, but they're much less influential to society as a result. You just have to look at the number of the later that demutualised to in order to compete to see that.

There's also North Dakota with it's state owned bank (rather than one the state is bailing out). Although there seems to have been some interesting ideas behind it's setup, as far as I can see it doesn't actually do a lot other than focus it's loans and investments on local industry.

All in all, banks seems a bizarre idea really. What could be a useful public services have been forced into being profit hungry monsters in order to survive.
owen, me, owen st

5 Things

This is one of those memes that seems to have gone around a lot for years now and I've so far avoid it. Well until I somehow managed to ask ladyofastolat to pick 5 things from my interests for me to talk about.

Oh well, here goes:

Blue string pudding (English seems inappropriate for this one) whistle whistle-whistle whiiiiistle whistle-whistle-whistle whistle. Whistle whistle whistle whistle-whistle whiiistle whiiiiistle whistle-whistle whistle. Whistle-whistle whistle whistle-whistle-whistle-whistle whistle whistle. Whistle whistle whistle. Whistle-whistle whiiiiistle whistle whiiistle whistle-whistle-whistle whiiiistle. (hope you got that, because that's all the explanation your going to get)

Coathangers This is about the only explanation I can give for this one (it's not my coathanger or my wall, but it is my, rather poorly taken, photograph)

Neil Gaiman I discovered Neil Gaiman when Neverwhere came on TV when I was at school. I bought the book of it shortly after when it came out and have worked my way through most of his other books since. I like the way he manages to ground the fantastic into real life situations, particularly in Neverwhere and American Gods. Rather than creating a whole new reality to talk about, he generally seems to just twist the one we've got to his own ends. Not really looked at the comics much though, as I never really was a big one for comics in general.

Real Ale You can't go around with morris dancers and other real ale drinkers without developing a taste for the stuff, especially when a lot of the other stuff pubs serve drink-wise is fairly tasteless and uninteresting. I therefore fell down that slippery slope. I wouldn't say I've got any particular favourites though, I'll generally go for the ones I know less well, because they might be more of a surprise.

The Goons Here I was, freshly run over with my bagpipes irreparably flattened, and without a remedy. The weight of the steamroller had made a lasting impression on me. I was now two inches thick and twenty-four feet wide. This- this was very awkward. People kept opening and shutting me. Then I discovered the goons had had a very similar storyline and radio 7 was repeating them on a Monday morning. Started listening to them on listen again as I didn't have digital when I first discovered this until I moved back to London and was able to listen to them before going to work (falling in the water is a very good way to wake up on a Monday morning). The rotten swines have deaded them now though :-(