Seumas Gallacher Uncovers the Global Financial Markets “Con Trick”

Good for the Soul?

Seumas Gallagher

This is a guest post by best selling author Seumas Gallacher. He’s worth a read. Click on the photos for a link to his site.

Let me ’fess up, right out of the blocks, I worked in the finance and banking industry for the major part of my professional career. I’m aware I may sound like a ‘bleeding deacon’ with some of my ensuing comments, but who cares… I’ll tell it as I feel it and see it.

Outrageous

My view of the global banking industry over the past ten to fifteen years moved from simple embarrassment to downright outrage. In the early 1960s when I entered a Scottish bank as an apprentice bank clerk, things were radically different: getting a personal loan of ten pounds sterling entailed a whole series of tough questions about the ability to pay back. Yet when money was deposited to any bank, it was considered the safest possible place for money.

Once Upon a Time, in a Bank Far Away …

Your life savings were secure. Customers sat plainly and squarely at the centre of everything the financial institutions stood for. The concepts of casinos and betting shops were a million miles away from the lofty profession of banking.

Fast forward to today, and it’s all changed.

Somewhere along the way, ‘customer service’ became an obsolete notion. Greed and bonuses, accompanied by unharnessed risk, replaced the sobriety of lending on which entire economies had previously thrived and grown in measured style.

The lines became blurred, then fudged, and ultimately scorned in pursuit of bottom line profits, both corporately and for a certain breed of ‘high-performing’ individuals whose sole raison d’etre was simply to invent ways to ‘make money’.

Artificial instruments known as ‘derivatives’ proliferated, most of which were total ‘gobbledegook’ to the ordinary investor. That did not stop the ‘salesmen’ within the banks from targeting the so-called ordinary investor. At times, even the ‘salesmen’ didn’t fully understand the products they were flogging to an unsuspecting market.

Pause for Thought

By the middle of 2006, it was starting to become clearer to me that the hedge fund industry was becoming a dangerous bubble, with too much money chasing the same trades. This was leading hedges down narrower and narrower paths in which they bought riskier credit instruments to round out their strategies … Keith McCulloch and Rich Blake

Think of it for a moment, when did the term ‘salesmen’ start to appear in banks? Next some bluudy genius came along with the biggest con trick of all, the sub-prime range of instruments. To put it simply, substandard quality risk was ‘wrapped’ in supposedly solid AAA institutional support and sold accordingly to private and corporate investors to the tune of trillions of dollars —yes, trillions of dollars—and insured against failure … except it wasn’t.

OMG! The Music Stopped

When the music stopped, the whole edifice came tumbling down about the entire world financial markets’ collective ears. Now here’s the thing:

  • millions of ordinary folks lost life savings
  • many pension funds had values ripped out, never to be recovered
  • most of the major banks at the centre of the whole malarkey remain relatively unscathed…

Beware Greeks …

Oh sure, certain high-placed employees and officers lost their jobs in the banks, but some of these individual institutions were bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars— please read that again—hundreds of billions of dollars. Try to reconcile that against the nonsense currently besieging Greece where the fiscal management of that country does not come out of it smelling of roses.

The same junta of the European Central Banks that bailed out their own fellow institutions not so long ago, are holding the Greeks to ransom … smacks of sins of the fathers to me. Rest assured, banking will never again revert to the great profession to which I once belonged and more’s the pity … heads they win, tails you lose.

Seumas Gallacher
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The Angels’ Share, the Spirit of Whisky

Angels’ Share … The Spirit of Taste

The Angels Share

cartoon of … “a play of words between ‘Cher’ and the Angels Share” by Steven Carroll … click picture for a link to Steven’s site

 

During the maturation of Scotch whisky about 2% is lost from the cask through evaporation. The UK Revenue and Customs accept the vanished amount as part of the production process and duty is not claimed. This is known as “The Angels’ Share”.

As the experts at Bruichladdich Distillery on the Isle of Islay say:

For Scotch to be legally called Scotch, it must be matured in oak barrels, in Scotland, for at least three years.  Oak barrels are permeable however, and they absorb a significant amount of liquid over time.

As much as 5% of the volume of the new spirit we put into a cask will be quickly absorbed into the thirsty wood when it is initially filled – but it does not stop there.  A smaller proportion, up to 2%, will go right through the grain each year and out into the atmosphere to be lost forever (unless you are an angel).  It is therefore not uncommon for a cask that is fifteen years old to be half empty by the time it is bottled.

Angels’ Share Series

What do you get when you uncover a corrosive blend of corrupt politicians, bent government officials, criminal bankers, greedy business people, and gangsters, all lining their pockets at public expense? A death sentence—that’s what.

Mac Logan’s Angels’ Share series takes the idea and explores how it can be twisted into a dark criminal conspiracy of self-serving officials, business people, bankers and organized crime. People who:

  • evaporate money from contracts, drugs and human trafficking.
  • make and hide vast profits in their vicious, self-serving greed.
  • learn how to kill to protect their revenues.

If you’d like to know more about Angels’ Cut or Dark Art, follow the link or click on the covers to the right.

Mac Logan
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A Beauty Trapped by Time

Trapped by Time?

“O Beauty, find thyself in love, not in the flattery of thy mirror.” Rabindranath Tagore

car crashIt must have been fifteen years ago. And there’s a question that teases me still: how did I miss a lamppost or avoid hurtling on to the pavement?

It started with a vision, you see. A feminine feast for my eyes, lower half encased in tight stretchy material with a divine upper-body in an equally sheath-like tee shirt.

How shall I compare thee … to a traffic light?

No comparison, really, one’s a mechanical device for keeping cars flowing through town and, of course, the other a biological entity enjoying a fleeting beauty capable of transfixing most eyes. My memory replays the fluid motion of taut buttocks and a ripple of firm smooth muscled thighs. A pastel tee shirt with an unsurpassed mix of content and controlled motion. [pause while I bite my knuckle]

Flowing and Knowing

She knew, of course she did. The set of her face confirmed her knowledge through, an indifferent pursed-mouth, childelike self-awareness: knowing she’s being appreciated and pretending not to notice. She’ll be with me forever but …

All that Glisters

My mind draws back and thinks of beautiful interiors: of people I have known, some no longer with us. Of character, presence, humour, friendship, discovered worth. The loving hug of a grandchild who doesn’t care about wrinkles or wobbly bits. And what about the catalyst of humorous exchanges and tough times all building strong relationship links between people of all ages? Then there’s the earned respect of people who‘ve taken the trouble to know me.

Red, Red Rose

Seductive power is hard to deny. Much admiration may be reserved for a red, red sports car or a visual delight in spray-on lycra. Yet there’s no denying that, while an attractive package is always a bonus, it’s the content within other people that enriches one’s life.

I’ll never forget my vision in Spandex and I’ll never know what the light behind her eyes offered. Amber-trapped in my memory, she remains an image, her humanity and personality unknown: pretty as a picture and empty as a drum.

Mac Logan
©

A Spirit Soars on Lossiemouth Beach

Reckety Bridge at Lossiemouth BeachOn Lossie Beach

Off “Rickety Bridge” my feet kiss sand
Then follow waves’ hiss to the sea
The brine so cool it soothes my heart
As surf’s caress enlivens me

Soothed feet on Lossiemouth BeachSome way down the shore, a stump
Brought in by tide, a rooted seat
I rest myself, admire the view
Distant surfs’ crash keeps a beat

Seagull Feather on Lossiemouth BeachA seagull feather follows wind
Its gentle rocking points the way
Black dried seaweed wriggles free
And kissed by chaos leaps away

I gaze across the brawny Firth
The rolling sea, eternal sky
A filling heart and sense of worth
As windblown seabirds wobble by

Awesome beach bestows soul’s peace
A sandy breeze abrades my shin
Rain kissed breeze says time is come
To stand and wander back again

Lossiemouth BeachSuch time alone restores my heart
Affirms forgotten facts I know
Of friends, love, life and wistfulness
Of mighty nature’s ebb and flow

Mac Logan
©

Angels’ Cut … Evil Steals the Angels‘ Share

Angels’ Cut – brief intro

They take his sister, attack his family, and want him dead What’s a guy to do?

Taken meets Bourne Identity – Fabulous!: an intense, gripping, intricate & beautifully written page-turner which I highly recommend.”Simon Denman, UK, best-selling author and founder of Readers in the Know

 

If you like the Bourne movies and writers like Lee Child, Robert Crais & James Patterson … you’ll love Angels’ Cut and the Angel’s Share series

“Like all other reviewers, I found this book fast-paced, enjoyably unpredictable and just that bit ‘different’ from other action thrillers I’ve read. Sam Duncan is an attractive (and impressive) hero and the generally short chapters keep the book moving; it’s page-turning stuff. The plotting is skilful and there’s enough character-building to prevent this from being merely a series of fast-moving events. In a very competitive field this stands out. Well done Mac Logan!” hillbank68 TOP 500 AMAZON REVIEWER

Fast Track

Eilidh Duncan uncovers a corrupt conspiracy … it’s only a matter of time
The conspirators find Eilidh … uhh-ohh!
Sam Duncan comes to town … he starts digging
He joins some dots … KABOOM!

Angels’ Cut storyline

Eilidh Duncan uncovers a corrupt clique of politicians, officials, bankers, business people and gangsters … all lining their pockets at public expense. She disappears.

With his sister missing, and his family in grave danger, attack is the best from of defence. Sam Duncan infuriates some very powerful people. They will stop at nothing to block his investigation. Sam will stop at nothing to protect his family.

Sam and his wily minder, Tonka, face a gruesome trail of violence (video), murder and duplicity. In London, Ireland and Scotland the slimy tentacles of evil slither out. There’s no safety.

This is gritty Scottish crime fiction: with an international dimension, a thoughtful plot, ferocious action, and well drawn characters.

“… I felt the visceral satisfaction of seeing justice meted out to the abusers of women … as the plot moved on, more parallels to Stieg Larsson became clear. Underlying the surface appeal of this action-packed novel is a serious and passionate effort to portray very real dangers in our contemporary society. Journalists, such as Eilidh Duncan (video), Ai Weiwei, and Anna Politkovskaya, threaten vested interests who don’t wish their real motives to be revealed.” Maryann N, Seattle, USA

Mac introduces The Angels‘ Share Series (video)

Old Dog, New Tricks

We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it Frank Howard Clark

There’s loads of life in the old dog yet!

Old Dog didn't dieShocking information … I’ve still over 30% of my life to go (see below).

Hey oldsters! I can’t call you old dogs anymore it’s sexist, non PC and besides, any old bitches out there might take umbrage (scary thought).

Meaning?

It means we still have a future: good or bad, rough or smooth, tears or laughter. So, if the Black Dog visits, kick the mutt in the butt (no Madam, not other parts that rhyme. There’s no point in sitting there telling yourself you’re doomed, most of us aren’t.

We need not allow negative, fearful thoughts to rule our lives. A friend of mine after a huge personal disaster gave the lie to his fear. He told me fear was:

Fantasy
Experienced
As
Reality

Let’s check some facts: 

Appliance of Science

Don’t believe me when I say most of us have a future? Check the Surgeons’ Life Expectancy Calculator out. I must decide what to do with my 22 extra years.

Meaning?

For Example: When the Melt-Down happened in 2008, many of us older people caught a cold. However we care to dress it up, the banking collapse happened. We can apportion blame, moan or criticise the incompetence and greed that brought it about. Of course our politicians continue to inflict austerity on us for their failures. Whatever one feels about their parentage, silver spoons, personality defects or other blemishes,

Maybe justice will happen one day (please God). However, it means many of us over 60’s may have to stay in employment, get back to work or, at least, find a way to generate income. We are where we are.

Shape Up

as I think, so I am

There’s truth in that statement. It also applies to other people considering us:

as they think so we are

These two perceptions challenge us to make time and apply effort to:

Look at ourselves

  • determine our true situation
  • decide how we want our lives and world to be
  • assess options and plan action to achieve our goals

Engage with our ‘helpers’

How are we going to get others to help and support us? People like:

  • employers
  • past, present or future colleagues
  • banks, agencies and charities who can help us find alternative income streams

The Challenge is Ours

Is your spirit broken? If you’ve read this far, I doubt it. At our age we’ve all had tough times and we Scots/Brits (substitute your nationality) have grit.

Still, regardless of our spirit, it’s one thing to get up off the floor and quite another to push on and make an alternative future. We’re bound for unfamiliar territory and we’re going to have to be effective in our new world.

Exciting, isn’t it?

Mac Logan
©

5 Ideas for Productive Writing

I have nothing to declare except my genius.’ Oscar Wilde

5 Ideas … easy

5 ideasMy email pinged. ‘Would you like to do an interview?’… as an author, you know: likes, dislikes and advice. It felt good, a minor dusting of celebrity can turn the ego. Oh man, the invitation had my ego stretching my toupee. If you don’t know what a toupee is, keep your hair on.

Fast Answers

What were my top five? Off the top of my head (like instant)?

  1. Write, write, write—you gotta kiss a lot a frogs before you find your voice.
  2. Believeyou do have a story to tell and it’s great!
  3. Trust your flow—when it comes you’ll know; the words throw themselves at the page as you immerse in a creative surge, and laugh, cry, rage and tremble with your characters.
  4. Ask for and listen to advice—different perspectives and expertise help ground you; even if you don’t agree—you have to think.
  5. Set goals—you won’t hit them all, but you will get somewhere and you’ll see the progress.

Please don’t go all shy, who’ll notice?

If you write, or think you might like to, or are even plain terrified of putting pen to paper—but would kind of like to have a go … if only I could … I don’t want to look foolish … Forget the niggling doubts. Do it. Face your fears, express yourself and have fun. Share your work and ask for feedback. Before you know it you’ll be developing a style.

One thing is certain: if you don’t start the journey you won’t be going anywhere …

Mac Logan

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