Wednesday, 25 February 2009

lateral thinking from the wall to the banks

Back in 1989: busy in my routine of business travel; Taiwan, Japan, the States and regular visits to GDR, (the German Democratic Republic). We talked and discussed as usual: anything with anybody, thoughts were free.

Too free, obviously, as not for a fraction of a millisecond anybody had fancied that just a moment later, within minutes one late autumn evening, the Berlin Wall would come down; climbed, jumped and walked to pieces where bullets had ruled seconds earlier and for more than 28 years. Not only the Wall fell but the entire Eastern Block fell to pieces. What had been an unchangeable fact, rock and concrete solid, a fixed pillar in anyone’s reflection suddenly became a dusty heap of rubbish and everything changed.

With the current economic crash on top of all the global problems, some addressed but very few actually solved, embedded in an already advanced climate change nothing will stay as it is and little will be of any permanence; all fixed ideas must be questioned and all options considered. GM, Lehman Brothers, RBS, SAAB to name but a few, before even finishing their last chapters are being run over by history. Last year you would have declared any guru as being nuts if he had forecast what has happened; week on week it will now be more and more challenging to be prepared for the week thereafter.

In retrospect – the easy way – lowering interest rates and pumping endless sums of printed and not-printed money into banks already gone bad, was wrong; nobody – some insiders excluded – would have believed let alone imagined how fast and widespread cancerous papers would cause such an excessive malignant growth.

Today the “bailed out” banks are all but doing their job; they are still over lent and spent and while they try to cover their tenuous positions prior to Joe Bloggs declaring them insolvent the assets and securities are thawing away much faster than the Arctic’s ice; a vicious circle, devil’s roundabout, which will accelerate out of control unless stopped by a big bang.

Tomorrow morning’s bang must see different banks, new money, set rules and installed control mechanisms. The old structures need to be sorted out, responsibilities called in, the mess cleaned up; but the cut is needed now, breaking the ropes of the sinking old banks in order to enable a reset and all of us banking on the economic leftovers.

Nationalisation is hard to imagine, but there is no time left for spinning discussions: lateral thinking and action, please!

Carpe diem!


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