Going … Going …

What a shame, HBOS is bankrupt (surely ‘well capitalised with a short-term funding problem‘? Ed.) and just as they’ve moved into their brand spanking new corporate HQ on what was Canons Marsh.

Now, of course, thanks to Crest Nicholson’s corporate PR branders, we have to call it Harbourside and we’re invited to believe it’s about “shaping a soul in the heart of Bristol” at one of “Europe’s most stylish addresses … that exudes optimism and potential.” Ho, ho, ho.

Could be the ideal squat then …

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30 Responses to Going … Going …

  1. Chris Hutt says:

    It must be rather gratifying to those labouring in the aging Lloyds TSB headquarters to be taking over their new upstart neighbours in their flashy HBOS headquarters. I wonder which building they’ll consolidate into.

    The economies of scale from a takeover will presumably mean a lot of redundancies, which could do wonders for the problem of commuter parking in Southville. Patronage projections for the Ashton Vale BRT may need some urgent revision too. Oh happy days!

  2. Is it just a coincidence that the western financial system collapsed just after the first Anarchist Bookfair in Bristol for 15 years? I think it is unlikely!

    Good reading: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/02/0081908

  3. Des Bowring says:

    I think you are all being unnecessarily cynical. Not.

  4. Dona Qixota says:

    No, that is terrible reading, Steve: “Supporting this alternative-energy bubble will be a boom in infrastructure—transportation and communications systems, water, and power. In its 2005 report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers called for $1.6 trillion to be spent over five years”

    OMG will there be enough concrete to cover the whole country, not to mention a fair bit of the sea? As if the naked shorts weren’t bad enough.

  5. Actually, more depressing is the history section of the wikipedia entry of the Polywell fusion container: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

    This is the closest thing the planet has to a workable fusion power source (and yes, I am excluding the EU ITER project), but its US govt funding of $900K, about 450,000 pounds, got killed to fund the Iraq war. Here we have a prototype that would cost less than the blackboy hill traffic lights, but nobody cared.

  6. Dona Qixota says:

    Can’t agree. The toerags are making enough mess of our environment and quality of life (huh, what’s left of it) without dishing out more or cheaper power.

    Too much power, and definitely in the wrong hands.

  7. Spectator says:

    Got to agree with Dona here Steve… techno-fixes will exacerbate the problems we face. Ok, so a fusion container could reduce emissions and costs, but that would mean more factories, more roads, greater consumption of other resources, more industrialisation of farming, fishing, greater separation from nature… on the other hand, if you believe in the concept of decadent action…

    http://www.monoculartimes.co.uk/counterculture/decadentaction.shtml

  8. It’s pretty reasonable to criticise fusion; I personally think the probability of anything being deployable is almost zero. But for $900K, it makes more sense than invading Iraq on the off chance of there being more oil. Either way: better have some good contingency plans, ones that don’t rely on pipelines through Georgia.

  9. SteveL says:

    Returning to the HBOS/LLoydsTSB merger, it isn’t good news for people who work in the branches or Bristol back offices -or any other bit of the banks. When management say “economies of scale” they mean “less people”. So there’s less work, and with the other banks in the same way, less hiring. And a lot of these people don’t take the blame: Halifax didn’t get into US subprime mortgages or complex derivatives, just got overexcited about lending to the UK market without enough depositors. Of course, that lending pushed up UK house prices, which all three parties -and the mainstream media- were happy to have happen. But now the dance is over, and it’s time to pay.

  10. Jon Rogers says:

    Hi Steve

    I take issue with your “lending pushed up UK house prices, which all three parties

    Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor has been warning about the over-inflated house prices and reckless lending for a long time, certainly over a year.

    He gave a stonking speech at our Party Conference this week.

    http://www.libdemvoice.org/category/lib-dem-tv

  11. BristleKRS says:

    I hope Big Rod (Prince of Darkness) doesn’t get the heave-ho – he’s a sterling cashier, never one to fall back on ‘we’re not allowed to do that’ bullshit 😀

  12. The Bristol Blogger says:

    The Bristol Blogger will be instigating an immediate ‘Save Big Rod the Halifax Prince of Darkness’ campaign.

    What branch is he at?

    Also, did anyone see Newnight last night? It started with that really annoying Halifax surfing ad with the Asian bloke walking out of the Halifax branch singing Herman’s Hermits ‘I’m into Something Good’.

    Anyway he springs out of the Halifax branch into the bright sunlight and sings the first line – “Woke up the this morning feeling fine ..”

    Only for Paxman to interrupt sneering “No you didn’t”.

  13. Gary Hopkins says:

    Steve L
    As it happens the venerable Vincent Cable was giving warnings and advice on the bubble for some considerable time in advance of the burst a few years ago. Unfortunately the other 2 parties did not wish to listen and Independant radio 4 and the FT excepted the media did not report it much. Mind you exactly the same thing happened with the 10p tax rate abolition. Lib Dem. frontbenchers condemmed it straight away but the media paid no attention until 11 months latwer when Labour backbenchers woke up. They had been too busy previously crowing at the Tories over the 2p off the basic rate. Typical Gordon Brown con job.

  14. Chris Hutt says:

    Thankless task being right all the time, isn’t it. The best is that we get ignored, the worst that we, as the messengers, get the blame. Why do we bother?

  15. BristleKRS says:

    Sorry, I should have been clearer – Big Rod is a Lloyds wage slave, but just the sort of friendly, affable type of fellow who could easily get lost in the shuffle come any ‘rationalisation’.

    I think he’s at Corn Street at the moment, but he used to be at Broadmead IIRC.

  16. OK, I am corrected by the LibDem members. How about: the party in power and the conservatives have both been complaining about the recent collapse in demand for houses/house prices and trying to “do something about it”, where the something is generally encourage more people to borrow more money?

  17. Paul Smith says:

    I have checked and Leon Troksky has not announced the inevitable death agony of capitalism, possibly because of the death agony of communism inflicted upon him.

    On Nuclear fusion, of course there is already a working reactor – its that big bright yellow thing in the sky

  18. thebristolblogger says:

    No but we are witnessing the collapse of unregulated and unfettered free markets and the rise of socialism for the rich – governments bailing out shareholders ffs!

  19. Paul Smith says:

    It is amazing that the USA are trying to shore up the economy by mass nationalisation. Ultimately it is people with bank accounts that are being protected which is around 70-80% of the population. Also all of our pensions are being gambled on the markets.

  20. thebristolblogger says:

    Surely the trick to pull off here is to protect ordinary punters while punishing shareholders and speculators to stop them doing it again?

    If you nationalise the junk debt they’ve been selling for the last ten years and let them carry on they’re free to do it all over again?

    Plus, all their talk of the risk they take and the rewards it deserves is piffle. If they get in to trouble they know we’ll bail them out.

  21. Chris Hutt says:

    That’s what the expression “moral hazard” is all about. If you bale people out from suffering the consequences of their bad decisions, or even if there is an expectation that you might bale them out, they won’t exercise the appropriate caution in their trading and investment decisions.

    Shareholders ought to be in the firing line since they are collectively responsible for the choice of directors and CEOs, and the incentive packages that motivate them. But we need a faster (and consequently less severe) boom-bust cycle if people are going to learn lessons.

  22. Ella says:

    Lol HBOS has bum disease.

  23. Spectator says:

    The dirty drick that ‘capitalism’ has played over the years is to operate by the old maxim of “privatise the profits, nationalise the losses”… much as I dislike the ideology of the modern neo-liberal, free marketeer Guido types, at least they seem to be consistent on this score, seeming to believe that moral hazard should operate throughout the market at all times… though whether they’d stick to it if their wallets were threatened…

    A radical solution would be to bring an end to the legal construct of the Ltd Company… ensuring that those in charge have a personal responsability for all debts incurred… but that’s just way too radical for most people to even contemplate.

  24. Dona Qixota says:

    Some good retorts to Guido on this subject, eg:

    Anonymous said…September 18, 2008 9:33 AM.

    “Capitalism doesn’t need to be regulated for risk…” [Guido]

    This is the most ridiculous, asinine claptrap that I’ve read this year – and that is saying something.

    Who on earth sets the boundaries which the non-human, purely-for-profit corporation has to operate within ?

    This is like having a wolf around the house with a small baby ! You need a dog which has been trained and therefore operates within some boundaries….”

    Anonymous said…September 18, 2008 9:42 AM.

    “There’s no such thing as capitalism …. the ‘free’ West has laboured under corporatism and cronyism since the second world war at least. The nearest thing to capitalism operating on the planet now is China; not the system but the innate, industrious Chinese. The West, foremost US, UK, are rotten with nothing but high-class parasites feeding off their rotting corpses….”

    Anonymous said… September 18, 2008 12:09 PM. Re: Austrian Economics

    I’m inclined to agree with Ludwig von Mises that Fractional Reserve Banking is fundamentally unsound, and leads to un-sustainable credit expansion, which is followed by bust, that Gordon Brown promised to abolish if my memory serves me correct.

    Why do I never see commentators on financial affairs discuss this issue?”

    http://www.order-order.com/2008/09/greatest-capitalist-versus-geeks-of.html

    Fractional Reserve Banking, fiat currency, “Money as Debt” made easily digestible by some cool guys out of Gabriola Island, BC.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVkFb26u9g8

  25. BristleKRS says:

    Fear not! I was in Broadmead Lloyds today and I can confirm, yes, repeat, confirm that Big Rod is remains alive, well and still in post!

    8)

  26. Interesting post and comments on capitalism on Jonathon Porritt’s blog:

    http://www.jonathonporritt.com/pages/2008/09/scary_times.html

    (Someone here is sure to have a go at Porritt but his post is a good one, honest).

  27. dave angel says:

    Bristol is going to be the most likely city to become a casualty of this merger.

    Part to the deal with the government waiving competition rules was that HBOS/Lloyds jobs in Scotland should be protected (absolutely nothing to do with us having a Scottish PM and Chancellor!). No clause for Bristol jobs though.

    Interestingly, no Bristol MP has picked up on this and asked why a Scottish Job is more valuable than a Bristol Job.

  28. Chris Hutt says:

    According to a piece in today’s Evening Post – http://tinyurl.com/543ee9 – there could be a scramble for jobs between Bristol and Gloucester. Lloyds TSB’s mortgage operations are run by the Cheltenham & Gloucester subsidiary so that will be merged with the Halifax brand, but will the HQ of the merged operation then be in Bristol or in Gloucester?

  29. Dona Qixota says:

    Porritt writes: “Debt-driven consumerism, underpinned by a corrupt, self-serving and unaccountable financial system, has been at the heart of 20 years of environmental devastation. It’s over. If we chose, we could now do things very differently once we’ve negotiated our way through the recession.”

    Aah, but “we” won’t get to choose, will we. The plutocrats and kleptocrats will choose to do whatever idiotic thing they see as being in their own best short-term self interest, won’t they.

    I don’t know why so many seem surprised with the last year’s events, it’s just what you expect from an economic system structured as ours is. Don’t know about anybody else, but it was obvious to me as a school-leaver, that modern global society is a Greek tragedy, back in the early eighties.

    And I wouldn’t rush to judgement on things being “over” too soon, Jonathon. They’ll keep re-animating this rotting zombie Golem for quite a while into the future, till it’s destroyed everything wild and beautiful. Sadly beyond our infinitessimal lifetimes.

  30. “What a shame, HBOS is bankrupt “….but it isn’t, it’s just not got enough ‘cash-in-hand’, that’s all. Lloyds TSB on the other hand do have a few shillings spare and they have just ‘plucked’ a bargain HBOS Plc, for about a quarter of its intrinsic value.

    Anyway, we hope that between them all, (having been involved in some way – as an investor – with Crest Nicholson, who in turn, totally shafted our Family, Houseboat Home and Way of Life,) that Andy Hornby CEO HBOS, Sir Tom Hunter Co-Owner of Crest Nicholson with bank of Scotland Corporate, Lloyds TSB, Sir Victor Blank Chair, and Eric Daniels CEO, can come up with something decent to put ‘right’ that which was done so ‘wrong’.

    Let’s face it, Lloyds TSB is the New HBOS on the Block of British Banking Giants. Our Family would like to wake up feeling fine too!

    Chill and respect,

    The Shalom Family.

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