Triple Crunch Log
September 2008 Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy protection, becoming the first major bank to collapse since the start of the credit crisis.
December 2008 Bernard Madoff arrested for operating the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
January 2009 The Bank of England launches £200bn quantitative easing.
March 2010 Former chairman of Anglo Irish bank Sean Fitzpatrick is arrested in Dublin after failing to disclose details of loans worth millions from the bank.
April 2010 Northern Rock former directors, David Baker and Richard Barclay, are fined £504,000 and £140,000 for deliberately misleading analysts prior to nationalisation.
April 2010 The US Securities and Exchange Commission accuses Goldman Sachs of "defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts".277
20.4.10. The Deepwater Horizon rig, working for BP explodes 50 miles off Louisiana, killing 11. The 1,500 metre riser collapses, and the wellhead begins pouring oil into the water.
IMF proposes tough measures to cut banks down to size, taxing both profits and pay in a so-called Financial Activities Tax (FAT), stopping short of a Tobin tax. Gordon Brown claims credit for it.278
IMF says banks are more powerful now than they were before the crisis, and time is running out to deal with them. “The future financial regulatory reform agenda is still a work in progress, but will need to move forward with at least the main ingredients soon”, the IMF’s Global Financial Stability Review notes. “The window of opportunity for dealing with too-important-to-fail institutions may be closing and should not be squandered, all the more so because some of these institutions have become bigger and more dominant than before the crisis erupted.”279
21.4.10. FT.com suspects policymakers, economists and peak-oilists are starting to speak same language. “It’s still the rare politician or industry executive who would use the phrase ‘peak oil’. But in the UK, a country for whom domestic oil production decline is very much a concern, the issue has become almost mainstream.”280
None of the UK political party manifestos mention peak oil going into the election. And when asked about at the Guardian debate on the environment, the three environmental spokespeople - Miliband, Hughes and Clark – show varying degrees of complacency, Miliband worst.281
25.4.10. Chevron CEO sees no future for his company in the shale gas rush. John Watson that the “price tag is too high” to justify the investments required, a big contrast with those who insist that new drilling techniques are a “game changer” and lift projections of reserves of shale gas from 30 years’ worth of supplies to 100 years.282
28.4.10. Deepwater Horizon had no remote shut off of the kind required in Norway and Brazil. U.S. regulators don't mandate use of the so-called acoustic switch, a third line of defence. On all offshore oil rigs, there is one main switch for cutting off the flow of oil by closing a valve located on the ocean floor. Many rigs also have automatic systems, such as a "dead man" switch as a backup that is supposed to close the valve if it senses a catastrophic failure aboard the rig. The Deepwater Horizon had a dead-man switch, and nobody can explain why it didn’t work. With an acoustic switch a crew can trigger an underwater valve that shuts down the well even if the oil rig itself is damaged or evacuated. Regulators in Norway and Brazil require them. Norway has had acoustic triggers on almost every offshore rig since 1993. Shell and Total often install them even where regulators don’t require them. An acoustic switch costs about $500,000. U.S. regulators have considered mandating the use of remote-control acoustic switches or other back-up equipment. But the oil industry argued against the acoustic systems.283
29.4.10. US mobilises military as BP’s oil spill approaches Lousiana coast. BP’s value falls by £13bn as share price falls Some 5,000 barrels a day are still spilling beneath the rig and BP’s efforts to cap the well could take four weeks, by which time 150,000 barrels would have escaped. If that doesn’t work, a relief well would be needed, needing maybe 3 months, and meaning 300,000 barrels – bigger than the Exxon Valdez at 258,000 barrels.
30.4.10. White House bans offshore drilling until further notice as US Navy joins the effort to contain the spill (on the surface, that is).284
Costs of Gulf oilspill likely to exceed Exxon Valdez as backlash builds against BP. Brent Coon & Associates, an American law firm playing a large role in bringing cases against BP for the Texas City refinery fire in 2005, files a lawsuit on behalf of a rig worker injured in last week's blast, and argues that criminal charges should be brought against the company for its repeated failure to act after a series of industrial accidents in the US. “They don't learn their lessons, they are the most arrogant bunch of bastards I've ever dealt with,” says lawyer Brent Coon. “It's like they just don't care. At some point, we are going to have to put some of these executives in jail and withdraw their right to exploit our natural resources.”285
Goldman Sachs faces a criminal investigation. Federal prosecutors have opened a preliminary criminal investigation. The news sent Goldman shares down 9%.286
22 arrested in carbon trading inquiry, all but one in the UK, although Deutsche Bank has been raided in a German arm of the operation, involving 2,450 British and German tax officers. The issue is carousel fraud involving VAT, as result of which criminals have pocketed an estimated €5bn. A total of 58 have now been arrested across Europe. 287
1.5.10.British H&S watchdog has warned BP over safety on North Sea oil rigs. The HSE has issued an “improvement notice on the Schiehallion Field saying that the oil group “failed to ensure the safety of your employees and others not in your employment by not providing and maintaining a system of work for the control of that operation that was, so far as reasonably practicable, safe.” Another notice pertains to Magnus. After the Piper Alpha (167 dead) investigation, pipeline emergency shut down valves were made madatory. One failed on one field and others have been found to be at risk. The HSE has called on all operators to check ESDVs. Saftety stats in the North Sea showed a marked deterioration in 2009 on 2008.288
Warren Buffett defends Goldman Sachs, saying at the Berkshire Hathaway AGM that the losers on their suspect deal “made a dumb credit decision.” Though he adds a successful criminal prosecution would be “something more serious, and we’d look at that at the time.”289
2.5.10. “Virtually impossible” spill larger than previously estimated, experts say: 3,850 sq miles. BP’s safety analysis had suggested the spill was “virtually impossible.” Obama flies to meet Hayward in Louisiana.290
3.5.10. A third of French nuclear plants shut in heatwave, and electricity has to be imported from the UK.