Friday, 31 July 2009

Santander it's the only bank in town!

Santander, the banking giant which owns Abbey and Alliance & Leicester, reported this week a pre-tax profits up more than 30 per cent to a whopping £790m. Spanish owned Santander will rebrand British high-street brands familiar and well known to many under it’s own name, these are the above mentioned and another that came to be symbolised by two city gents in TV adverts in the 1970s Bradford & Bingley. Santander is now the UK’s second-biggest mortgage lender and third-largest savings bank.

Antonio Horta-Osorio, Santander’s UK chief executive, said: “We have delivered an excellent increase in revenue and profit despite tough market conditions.”

Oh that’s good news for their shareholders’ then, money, money and more money, profit, profit, and more profit! But with the blink of an eye, the push of a pen the market conditions will include turning out families that are unable to keep up with mortgage payments? Yes I can see the profit in that!

Less than a year after the eruption of a financial crisis that has devastated economies across the globe and wiped out an estimated 40 percent of the world’s wealth, a number of major banks and investment houses are posting record profits and setting aside sharply higher—in some cases, record—sums for salaries and bonuses to their employees.

A recent article in Der Spiegel magazine entitled The Return of Greed—Banks Reopen Global Casino provides some insight. The article cites a former leading financier, who declares, “A few years ago, the investment banks got rich on their customers’ money. When that resource became too small, they fell back on their shareholders’ money. Now they've got hold of the biggest pool the world can offer: taxpayers’ money.”


Chris H said...

Some excellent observations there.

One thing got me thinking though. When we talk about lenders turfing people out of their homes, we see those who lend the money keeping control of their investment when the system they are part of causes hardship for those who live in the house. Those who suffer are the householders, those who pick up the pieces are society in general and social services / councils in particular.

Wouldn't it be nice for some militancy which would physically deny the evictions for as long as the threat remains? I'm talking about a real physical presence that would oppose and hinder the action of any bailiff or suchlike who are there on the behalf of the lender. Sort of like a militant squatting movement that would allow those who face eviction through no fault of their own to retain occupancy. Obviously it would need a mass movement capable of maintaining such a presence.

Maybe one day along the road to taking habitation out of the commodity market and forcing lenders and shareholders to face up to their social responsibility.

Jim said...

Hi Chris,

You’ve sent an interesting post in regard to people being rendered homeless after repossession of their homes. It’s true that those who lend the money control the transaction throughout its duration; including in such times as the present crisis bestowed on hard working families.

I’m not opposed to militancy that defends the interests of workers and the family home from the werewolves of capitalism and its rotten system. Direct action such as a militant squatting movement may find favour with some, but I do think that we need to look at the bigger picture here and that’s housing or the lack of it, is a part of the general and universal trap that we workers find ourselves in, just one part aspect of a much bigger problem – capitalism!

Over the years I’ve been involved in militant activities around housing, some won some lost, I’ve been part of campaigns to improve this and to do that; only to see gains made corroded and eventually eaten away by the system years later. I have no idea how things in this recession are going to pan out for many who have never known such hardship such as losing a home or a job through no fault of their own. But what is becoming apparent is that the system can’t and won’t deliver peoples expectations’, and they will come to see capitalist society for what it is, designed to protect and maintain the institutions of private property, it declares wars, punishes its criminals and protects itself.

We need to abolish capitalism not man the barricades. There is no chance for Socialism in the butchery of the barricades. If we are to abolish capitalism we must aim at political power to neutralise the legal source of the coercion which holds capitalism together. To get this power we must change the popular support upon which the coercion ultimately depends. A socialist party must work to convince the working class of the need for Socialism. It must spread knowledge of society as widely and as deeply as possible so that the workers become convinced, knowledgeable socialists. When they have reached that condition the workers will not take industrial action or go to the barricades to establish Socialism. Nor will they need leaders. They will know where capitalism’s power is controlled. Instead of electing pro-capitalist members to the seats of government they will elect Socialist delegates’ who will be mandated to take the formal, legal steps to abolish private property in the means of wealth production and distribution and to make these things the property of the whole of mankind.

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