The many bail out the few

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 pm, August 31st, 2010 - 51 comments
Categories: class war - Tags:

In the comments section today George pointed out the numbers on the bailout:

That’s a $400 loss per taxpayer.

Or an average $48,500 gain (including 8.5% return) for SCF investors. Meanwhile. teachers are being refused flu shots because they cost too much.

I get slightly different numbers: about $380 for every man, woman and child in NZ a little over $55,000 on average for each of South Canterbury Finance’s 30,000 investors.

Even if you buy the government’s line about getting a billion back over four years it’s still a huge transfer of cash from the many to the few. The only thing that will dwarf it this term will be the hike in gst to pay for tax cuts for the rich (unless they start privatising before the election).

That this wealth transfer has been so blatant is probably why Bill English announced it this morning only after it was done. He probably figures it’s a lot harder to make a long-running story out of something that has already happened.

But what is particularly galling is to hear John Key defend this rip-off just a day after he said teachers are disconnected from the real world.

It’s nice to know the government can scare up a spare billion and a half for a handful of rich investors while telling the people who teach our kids to go f**k themselves. It shows exactly who they are ambitious for.

51 comments on “The many bail out the few”

  1. I saw that comment as well. Why exactly am I forking out for this?

    How is it going to help the country? I can’t see the rationale…..

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Ask Labour? They’re the ones who put in the original bank guarantees. Not sure who’s idea it was to extend it to the finance companies but doing so was obviously a rort. Once allowed to do so 7 (iirc) promptly joined up to the scheme and then fell over within weeks.

  2. Jared 2

    Hold up the bus. I cannot find a single reference to teachers being denied the flu vaccine in NZ. Can someone please enlighten me? until then, stop scaremongering.
    The Retail Deposit Scheme (enacted by Labour) had $900 Million or so already provisioned for this type of default, in reality, a receivership and fire sale of SCF assets would have had a disasterous impact on rural NZ where SCF had loaned much of its money to.
    But don’t worry about semantics, keep running the line that its rich pricks getting a pay out and that the firm should have failed. Im sure you would have had plenty to say about National when those employed by the defaulting loan companys hit the dole queue.
    Damned if they do, damned if they didn’t.

    • The Voice of Reason 2.1

      Damned? I suspect history will agree with your assessment. Jared. As for the flu shots, they are a health and safety based claim in bargaining from the teachers, which is being denied by the employer.

      • Rharn 2.1.1

        And take into consideration Key’s idea that ‘one’ day off will require a med. certificate and you can see just how mean spirited this government really is.

    • IrishBill 2.2

      Flu Vaccine? Ah. That’s not the part of the comment I was interested in. I thought they got flu shots paid for anyway.

      The retail deposit scheme enacted by labour was for banks only. It was extended to finance companies under National. This money has not come from that fund but the fund appears to be being used to guarantee it.

      And I never said the firm should fail. I don’t like having words put in my mouth.

      Frankly I could have lived with a partial bail-out of debtors. There would still be moral hazard but it would have been attached to borrowing to grow and make things rather than to speculating on things. As it stands this is nothing but a wealth transfer. The rural sector will still suffer from the receivership. It will just be a less steep curve than it might have been. The only winners are the wealthy investors.

      • Herodotus 2.2.1

        From my experience Primary school boards in the main do pay for flu jabs, I take it the same would apply to high schools, so all the union is doing is formalising this practice, so ther emay in reality be less a story than what is being promoted.
        IB you are soulding a bit Michael Cullen, in reality you will find that there are many elderily with their life savings being hurt by this and other finance coy collapses. Young upstarts in their pin striped suits were and are very gifted in understating the risk and emphasising the rewards to nieve old people. Whilst there will be some rich who benefit the vunerable elderly (We all god willing will be in this caes sometime, IB you and I will become that dottery old fool, that can be conned by a smart talker and sign our wealth away). I still think that govt help should not have been given to any finance coy(like stage 1 economics day 1 teaching of the supply /demand curve there is also risk/return), but also that there should be real firepower provided by govt agencies with real power to oversee this industry and for real failure, punitive ramifications for breaches. Not the 300 type hours of community work for the Petroviches for failure to disclose, as 100’s of millions are lost into thin air.

      • Jared 2.2.2

        Wrong, non bank deposit taking institutions (finance companies) were included from the start. It wasn’t the extension from National that allowed finance companies, they were allowed from day one.

        Also, I think you will find most schools already pay for flu vaccines regardless of its inclusion in the bargaining on the table at the moment, at least the ones I have been involved with pay for them regardless. Its a small price to pay, and I haven’t heard of teachers complaining of it not happening.

        • IrishBill 2.2.2.1

          No, you’re wrong, they were added in November of 2008.

          • Jared 2.2.2.1.1

            http://beehive.govt.nz/release/deposit+guarantee+scheme+introduced
            12th October 2008

            “The scheme will cover all retail deposits of participating New Zealand-registered banks and retail deposits by locals in non-bank deposit-taking entities. This would include building societies, credit unions and deposit-taking finance companies,” he said.

            You said that when Labour introduced the scheme it was for banks only, you were incorrect.

            • IrishBill 2.2.2.1.1.1

              That was the expectation but they were not officially added to the scheme until November. From memory I think it was the 10th. I’m pretty certain that banks qualified straight away.

              • George

                Thanks for hattip!! National renewed SCF in the scheme in April of this year despite knowing the company was shaky. The responsibility for this definitely lies with the current government.

    • Loota 2.3

      Sorry OT. Who even cares about the flu vaccine? Every research study shows that its helpful effect on number of sick days taken is small to zero. It is just not that effective. Especially if they guess the season’s virus mix wrong and then its totally useless.

  3. so you’re saying the retail deposit guarantee scheme, as announced by Helen Clark and Michael Cullen on the day of Labour’s 2008 election campaign launch, was a mistake?

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0810/S00259.htm

    Covering finance companies was among the criteria set by Labour at the time – And I don’t recall any of the authors on this site at the damning it as a mechanism to transfer wealth to the well off.

    • IrishBill 3.1

      Continuing the scheme past the credit crunch was a mistake. Adding finance companies to it was a mistake.

      But fundamentally Helen and Mike’s biggest mistake was allowing the system to get to the point there was so much private debt that needed to be underwritten was their biggest mistake. And that’s about their failure to alter monetarist policy. Despite having nearly a decade to do so.

      I’m also pretty sure I had a few hard words for it at the time.

  4. B 4

    Yes, although it is sickening to see the huge amounts involved (when compared to hugely important services that national has cut eg ACE 50m, TIA 1m etc etc), it would have been worse had they backed out- its a guarantee scheme-it only works if the govt upholds their end.

  5. So your suggestion is that the Government should have reneged on its binding contractual obligations under the retail deposit guarantee scheme?

    Wasn’t that scheme set up under Labour?

    • IrishBill 5.1

      Nope, my argument is they should have invested in the company to avoid the receivership (and thus the triggering of the deposit guarantee scheme), forgiven some of the debt, managed investor expectations down to burn off the speculators and bought some time for the company to be sold on.

      They should then have closed the deposit guarantee scheme down.

      • Scott 5.1.1

        I suspect they looked at those options and decided the net cost to the taxpayer was going to be much the same, if not worse.

        • nzfp 5.1.1.1

          Yeah they looked at the options alright, they looked real close at what Summers, Rubin, Geithner et al are doing in the USA and decided to do the same here…

          1. Bail out the wealthy investors in the failed financial corporation – make sure you pay them out dollar for dollar and make sure you make the tax payer foot the bill.

          2. Spin some B.S. about how you have to sell the newely aquired assets to recoup the costs. Make up some more B.S. about how you have to sell at 70c / 50c / 30c on the dollar because of the state of the economy. Make up some more B.S. about how we have to come together as a nation and shoulder the loss collectively.

          3. Set up the sales in such a way that you sell the assets to the same group of weathy investors you bailed out at dollar for dollar in step one.

          4. Presto Change-O magic Bill English – voila you just gave away a whole swag of New Zealand to a bunch of rich F**Ks at the tax-payer expense. I bet there will be no Kiwi/Iwi or even better “The Haves and the Have Mores…” B.S. all over the corporate media after that.

          • Scott 5.1.1.1.1

            Pardon me, but bollocks to your paranoid conspiracy theories. The retail deposit guarantee scheme was a Labour creation, and the government was merely fulfilling its obligations under that scheme.

            • nzfp 5.1.1.1.1.1

              “The retail deposit guarantee scheme was a Labour creation” rolled over by Bill English – making it a National government (ponzi) scheme now. Wow Labour or National take your pick – both look exactly the same to me – maybe Kiwi/Iwi should be Nationalabour. Funny thing is there could have been 1.6 BILLION better ways to handle this.

              I mean seriously “the effects of all of them falling over overnight, as investors frantically tried to pull their money out, would have been potentially catastrophic” demonstrates that you understand that “credit” evaporates in a recession/depression. That should be enough of a clue for you to think of alternatives that don’t involve wealth transfer from labour/middle class to the “Haves and the Have Mores…”.

            • RedLogix 5.1.1.1.1.2

              Lets get one thing absolutely straight.

              The retail deposit guarantee scheme we are talking about was introduced during the global financial crisis at a time when the govt had virtually no option not to.

              Every other major trading partner had introduced something similar and NZ’s failure to do the same would have triggered a massive pull-out of short-term funds from our banking system. Dr Cullen had no realistic alternative at the time.

              In fact I recall Dr Cullen interviewing with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ saying that he was very unhappy about having to make this move, because he could foresee that it would have “perverse effects at the margins” (I think that was his exact phrase.)

              So lets lay off any attempts at re-writing history. The scheme was an unfortunate necessity at the time, and some of the predictable unfortunate consequences have come home to roost today. This omlette was made from eggs broken long before Dr Cullen came to the table.

  6. nzfp 6

    Treaty of Waitangi claims have been capped at one Billion. Waitangi Tribunal claims take years – I know, my family have been involved in a claim against the crown (not private New Zealand citizens) for years, a claim that will likely take years to resolve. The corporate media has a field day drumming up racial hatred whenever the crown settles in a court of law with Iwi.

    Anyone heard the bullshit Iwi/Kiwi meme?

    Bill English just gave away 1.6 Billion dollars in one morning.

    Maybe it should be “The Haves and the Have mores…”

    1.6 Billion to a private corporation in one morning.

    Yeah one law for one side of the fence and a whole other kettle of fish for the rest of us … Maori treaty of waitangi claimants, teachers, two income families, the middle and lower class, the parents of young men who have died fighting George Bush and Barak Obama’s heroin wars in Afghanistan (click HERE if you really want to know why our youth have to die in Afghanistan), the overwhelming majority of us New Zealanders.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 6.1

      1. Its not going to be $1.6 bill. SCF has an awful lot of assets. Selling the land off slowly will avoid a property crash which would have precipated a whole lot more mortgagee sales.

      2.The money wont disappear into thin air it will help keep the South Island econmy going through the recovery.

      3. Allowing half of the population of South Canterbury into bankruptcy would have enormous social and economic costs.

      4. Labour started the govt commitment. To renege would be highly irresponsible and dishonest.

  7. Fisiani 7

    So IB would prefer to wreck the South Island economy and deny the life savings of thousands of small investors to make a political statement. Seriously sick even for the Standard. This is a fantastic decision by the Government. Don’t take my word listen to Brian Gaynor on Checkpoint “what a good job this government has done” then grovel.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint 18.07

  8. TightyRighty 8

    It’s disgusting. truly and absolutely disgusting. already the apologists in the pubs are saying things like “the real liability is only going to be between $250-$600m”.

    it’s not the point, that money could be better spent in so many more ways than bailing out the greedy and stupid. in fact it would be better spent not spending it all. socialism in it’s most pernicious form. I have said this before, but i’ll say it again. National have lost my vote, and with the act party having lost it’s moral authority, i guess you could almost say i’m a swing voter. time to change the moniker again.

    • BLiP 8.1

      Hefty Lefty ?

      • TightyRighty 8.1.1

        whoa slow down there. my vote might be up for grabs but the principals remain.

        SwingKing?

        • Descendant Of Smith 8.1.1.1

          You must be confusing this post with the teachers strike.

          (Homo)PhonyTony

          • TightyRighty 8.1.1.1.1

            nice one douche. no need to bring the conversation down to your miserable level of existence, where everyone you don’t like is a homo. you sound like those bum-slapping jocks who shower together. is your little secret poking it’s nose out of the closet?

            • Descendant Of Smith 8.1.1.1.1.1

              You’re so wrong on so many counts. I weighed up a short response versus a long one and decided on medium. Short’s no good cause if you didn’t get it the first time you won’t the second.

              1. Just because a word starts with homo doesn’t mean it has anything to do with sexuality or sexual preference
              2. Consider the context in the first instance around the comment you made and the response – in particular the reference to principal in your comment and the reference to the teacher’s thread in mine
              3. Consider the overall context of any comments I have ever made – have any ever led to any sort of conclusion that I am some sort of right wing homophobic individual. I think not.

              To deconstruct the subtle humour:

              1. What does the word ‘homophony’ means? ‘Homo’ means the same and ‘phon’ means sound. Homophony then refers to the phenomenon of words with different meanings having the same sound. Those words are called homonyms or homophones.
              2. Principal. Head of a primary or secondary school
              3.principle. A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning. A rule or belief governing one’s personal behavior.

              Having understood since primary school what synonyms, antonyms and homonyms were it never occurred to me at all that what I wrote could be misconstrued in such a way.

              Still I did assume that given your normally lucid posts that the use of the incorrect principal was a simple typo / haste error. It may be of course you didn’t at all recognise the error and therefore jumped to such erroneous conclusions.

              I draw no further conclusions from your response.

              The Tony by the way was simply chosen because it rhymes with phony. The brackets simply join the PhonyTony to parallel TightyRighty.

  9. Herodotus 9

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10670179
    ‘…The Government paid out $30 million to $40 million to cover deposits by foreigners that it legally did not have to, he said…”
    So we with yours and my taxes are underwriting money that we dont have to pay regarding SCF. Who has the authority to spend $30+m of our money and what was the logic, perhaps to keep our internation reputation intact, but I would like to know if anyone out there knows more bout this, as I have not come accross sthis before.

  10. Fredeick 10

    Wealthy investors. How do you know. Some will be (like other those who have lost money in other finance companies) retired folks who have invested some of their life savings in this company. If they had also lost their hard earned savings I imagine you would say “tough luck old timers – get over it”. And I thought you were the caring party

  11. BLiP 11

    What we haven’t heard enough detail on are the foreign investors for whom John Key “bent the rules” to pay off – who are they and how come he’s giving them my money? Also, how do the owners of the leaky-homes feel about this?

    • Jared 11.1

      The reason why they paid out the foreign investor was to avoid problems surrounding asset ownership and receivership rights. By paying the extra $30-$40 Million the Government has avoided a ton of potential problems by securing full security over their assets.

      • BLiP 11.1.1

        That’s certainly the National Ltd™ line on the matter – but given Bill English and his chronic mendacity, show me the paper work.

        • The Voice of Reason 11.1.1.1

          I’d be keen to see the paperwork too. Be interesting to see how many Tory faux blind trusts have just made a tidy profit thanks to the taxpayer.

  12. Descendant Of Smith 12

    As it’s public money being used their should be a comprehensive list of all payments made and to whom and when the assets are sold a comprehensive list of all sales and to whom and for how much.

    While I don’t think any money should have been used – particularly those who invested for high returns after the guarantee was given – there should at least be complete openness and transparency about who gets the money and who buys the assets, including all and any trusts and who is behind them.

    I didn’t think the guarantee extended to the interest either – I had understood from all previous reporting that it only extended to the money actually invested. I would have thought at the very least the investors should carry the interest lost – not the tax payer.

    Obviously there is more to come as it seems there is already a possible buyer according to the rumours – seems to be another railways sale where the taxpayer carries the cost and private enterprise gets the assets. Hope there’s no blind trusts buying the assets……

    • just saying 12.1

      http://www.treasury.govt.nz/economy/guarantee/retail/qanda/claims/index.htm#2.2

      DoS, the above is the link, and below is the part about the interest. I’m disgusted that finance companies were covered by guarantee – beyond disgusted that the then govt saw fit to cover the interest. What the hell were they thinking??

      Quote:
      2.2 What payments are covered if an institution defaults?

      Updated 23 December 2009

      If an institution defaults and the guarantee is called upon up to 12 October 2010, for eligible deposits or investments the principal sum borrowed will be paid back plus any interest required to be paid under the terms of the institution’s indebtedness to the depositor or investor. However for deposits made (including re investment of maturing deposits) from 1 January 2010, the Crown may decline to accept liability for interest if a notice of claim is not submitted within a reasonable period of time.

      For deposits or investments made from 1 January 2010 up to 12 October 2010, the Crown will not be responsible for any liabilities to eligible retail investors assumed by a participating institution under a moratorium that are assessed by the Crown (acting reasonably) to be additional to the liabilities of that institution, to those investors, if the moratorium had never been made.

      The current scheme expires on 12 October 2010. For any institution participating in the extension scheme for the period from 12 October 2010 to 31 December 2011:

      * depositors have no right to be paid interest after the date of the default event; and
      * the Crown will not be responsible for any liabilities to eligible retail investors assumed by a member institution under a moratorium that has not been first approved by the Crown.

    • Descendant Of Smith 12.2

      A third string to the public information should be who the money was lent to that has turned toxic. Who took out these loans, what were they for and where has the money gone?

      It seems that as investors moved to invest here so did the shonky operators wanting someone to finance their dodgy ventures. Who were these people, what has happened to their businesses that they borrowed for. Follow the money to see where it has gone?

      Are there investors who also borrowed (maybe in another capacity / under a business) and defaulted on their loans thereby benefiting at both ends?

      Openness and clarity is needed.

      \

  13. Rharn 13

    In the Press today Tuesday, (August 31, 2010) Key is waffling on about how good the teachers deal is and is on par with both the nurses and police awards. Don’t know much on what the nurses side of things but it appears the Police sided for a pay increase at the expense of resources. One of the resources that was canned was a reduction in patrol cars. I got this on pretty good authority from a union official who is aware of the background details of the last award talks for the Police

    So if you are a chemist facing a burglar expect to be told that your call has been placed on the lower end of the priority list.

  14. treetop 14

    Brash has stated that he does not think that NZ will catch up with Australia (re difference in wages). When it comes to the government paying out people who infested in South Canterbury Finance (SCF) perhaps this is the only example of catching up with Australia as the interest being paid is about twice that a NZ bank would pay.

    See the brain wave to Australia is now from tradesmen and they can earn 60 % more a week than in NZ. Next will be more teachers e.g. kindergarten level, then more medical staff e.g. radiographers, lab technicians, specialised nurses. Retaining a work force is my priority over attracting overseas infestors as I think this is where the money is being wasted.

  15. Jenny 15

    Why is there no money for healers and teachers but there is hundreds of millions available to gift to unproductive speculators?

    I would rather the government had put that money into health and education. And then have had to go to the shareholders and financiers of South Canterbury Finance, and say, ‘Sorry guys but there isn’t any money left for you, we have decided to spend it on saving lives and educating our children.” Key could soften the blow, by giving the lecture, so far, only reserved for working class New Zealanders, about “tightening your belts,” and “Living within your means.” and “not being too greedy” and “not having un-realistic expectations” and “the Government must be fiscally responsible during this difficult financial time.” etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam.

    It’s time to expose the lies.

    The indecent haste and the eye watering amount, given to (mostly) rich shareholders to cover their losses at South Canterbury Finance, while starving the public sector of funds, is a message from the National party to the rest of us, not to expect any decency or justice from this ‘government of the rich’.

    For productive working people to get anything approaching justice or fairness for our side means that we will have to be even more united and determined than ever before, wherever this struggle between the elites and their government breaks into the open. Whether it is on the picket line or in the streets or on the hustings.

    capcha – ‘cost’

    • just saying 15.1

      Quote: “For productive working people to get anything approaching justice or fairness for our side means that we will have to be even more united and determined than ever before, wherever this struggle between the elites and their government breaks into the open. Whether it is on the picket line or in the streets or on the hustings.”

      Been thinking this more and more over the past week. Fact is, though we on the left disagree about many things, this next election is going to be the fight of our lives. And even if we don’t get on, we need each other. I like to think of us standing shoulder to shoulder in the coming year, maybe sharing cough lollies at a march in the rain….

      So maybe we’d better start with the solidarity stuff sooner rather than later, myself included.

      • pollywog 15.1.1

        All very well but until the standardistas move beyond bitchmoaning on the net and get visible in real life, mobilising the productive working people who don’t have internet, couldn’t give a shit about facebook groups or flashmobbing via twitter…

        …ain’t a damn thing gonna change and that’s what the right are counting on.

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