I've Caused a “Run” on Still Another European Bank!
An Italian economics' professor suggested that I should win the Nobel Prize for Economics this year; and, if I did not a serious blunder would have been perpetrated! He said: “It should go without saying that anyone who possesses the savvy to cause two (one Swiss [Please see my How I Topsy-turvied the European Economic System, www.scribd.com/thewordwarrior
]; one Italian) European banks—one of them one of the world's most illustrious banking institutions—to suffer a “transmission hemorrhage” that blatantly compromised the stability of their operations, that individual must be recognized for his super-sophisticated maneuverings and meat-and-potatoes economic insights.”
I was flattered. Knew, though, that it was just a pipe dream of his. Anyway, who wants it! I realize precisely that fame as an economic guru would have many shortcomings. Perhaps I would acquire a stressed, Alka-Seltzer-like complexion as have both Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, and Ben Shalom Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the DisUnited States' Federal Reserve System. Guest appearances on BLOOMBERG and CNBC where beautiful women would attempt to elicit important financial facts from me, mettlesome paps and journalists to haunt my life, and being in the limelight, people, keen to have my opinions, would forever not leave me in peace. (Can you imagine what I would say to Bono if he called me and suggested that he had some advice for me?) Such would be the consequences I would be saddled with simply because I had shaken up and caused explosive tremors in the stodgy, often malfeasant, international banking sector. Thousands of others could do exactly what I did. OK! Hundreds of thousands! The problem is they have not.
What happened this time was an event we may consider purely fluky. But before I find so much joy in revealing this astounding tale, I must pause and give a layperson's overview of the complicated, cryptic Italian banking system—just to put things into perspective for you, my dear reader. This detour will not be laboriously long, I promise, and I am sure you will agree with me that its succinct sum-up is essential if only to clarify and substantiate a series of reverberations, which soon follow, that easily could be represented in an entertaining and profitable film production.
Italian banks should have WARNING: PROCEED WITH THE UTMOST CAUTION signs at their entrances. Just to be polite—for starters. The Italian banking system is still in many ways a traditionally localized feudal network, and an elitist, smug affectation can be found in most of these noses-up institutions. Bank charges are outrageous, a businessperson must have accounts in three or four financial institutions to be able to adjust to the frequently changing economic winds, and Italians blabber disparagingly about their medieval thrifties more than they do about the chassis of their tin-can-like FIATs.
The Italian Banking Association reported that in 2004 there were 792 Italian banks down from 1156 in 1990—a considerable consolidation effort having been made. At first, one might think that the government has been making an attempt—in fact, is under international pressure to do so—to merge the country's baby banks with larger ones. But, be careful! In 1990 there were 17,721 bank branches; in 2004 there were 30,553! There are now about 11 major banks, 11 large ones, 31 medium-sized banks, 609 minor banks and 130 small banks. (“My uncle owns a bank. Do you want me to help you get a loan?”) So, an integration “elbow greasing” has been hurriedly achieved but with the trauma of higher bank charges and personnel dislocations coming as a result of the streamlining and, of course, these managerial landslides have added to the economic woes Italians are now burdened with. What is startling about this glut is that 20% of Italy's population is over 65 years of age, and Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world! Something is rotten in Italy's banking affairs and obviously very stupid.
If I told you I was being ripped off by my Italian bank, I am confident you would not be at all surprised. For sure, you would retort post haste: “So am I!” Wherever you are—at least in the industrial world—there is an enormous cry of foul being heard from tens of millions of people fed up with this or that banking heist. Nonetheless, I wish to point out that Italians do it better! I am certain Italians are more disgusted than most about their bankers' not slight peccadilloes simply because there is more not funny monkey business going on in The Boot. About a month ago, I read a TWEET blazoningly proclaiming that 10% of Italy's GDP is laundered money! I thought that figure was an underestimation. When Italian stocks go up, Europe's stocks go down. When European stocks go up, Italy's go down. Italians are masters of look and cooking—book cooking! Italy's finances have one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel. Exterior dramatic collisions are in store for all Italians, and those of you in far away posts will also be included in this soon-to-be debacle just as you have been hurt by Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain's (PIGS) immoderate, venal living styles. The party is almost over.
Holding in mind this universal repugnance—the same one you hold, reader!—that Italians harbor for their banks, you can see then why it might have been easy for me to find my way to my stunning upending of a second European bank. The Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church introduced to us the philosophical first principle, known to Scholastic philosophers, called Common Consent. I am not going to apply that precept here to prove the existence of God—or a god. No, I will use it to prove just how deceitful Italian banks are, and try to stimulate you to use Common Consent to even haul some of your own bankers off to the hoosegow. In unity there is strength.
Italian banking is a pisshole filled with writhing worms and their scum which is nurtured by ample indefinite quantities of graft, corruption, wrongful conduct, bribery, chicanery, favoritism, thievery, misrepresentation, deceptiveness—have I left anything out? I do not like it one bit! I feel so fine today that I was capable of causing a “transmission hemorrhage” in one of them, and that it eventually led to a judgment of dismissal for that bank's president!
The first step I took was to collect and analyze the facts surrounding all the particulars that I had accumulated over the years concerning Italian banking. That gathered intelligence was crucial to my strategy. I did my homework very scrupulously. I considered an umpteenth quantity of propositions. I was determined. I was measured, unhurried. I had one shot in my chamber, and I had no intention of missing the bull's-eye. I knew I was in the right as I closed in on the enemy. I smelled his blood.
The information of an acquaintance of mine was my starting point. He had glibly told me that he was forced to chisel on his tax returns simply because the Italian government took such a high percentage of his company's profit—so much so that if he had not cheated, he would not be left with any capital to invest in his establishment. I had knowledge of many other Italian entrepreneurs, many of whom had confided in me, that they themselves hoarded much of their net incomes in foreign, particularly Swiss, Luxembourgian and German, banks. “Everybody is doing it!” That is, everyone who has cash to stash beyond borders.
This simpatico somebody also let on that he was a very close friend of the president of the local bank I was about to bleed, and that that business executive was also thoroughly disgusted with Italy's tax-collecting system. (Birds of a feather flock together.) I loaded my weapon.
My one and only shot was this: On the Ides of March MMXI, I composed a memorandum addressed to my friend the ex-director of the Italian secret services, the useless DisUnited States' ambassador to Italy in Rome, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, DC. Off the memo went. I also sent a copy to the Florence, Italy police chief.
In that communication, I simply listed the names and addresses of my acquaintance and his friend, the president of the bank in question, adding that I had information that would deem it logical for the Banca d'Italia to perform a full-scale investigation of the bank in question. I made no accusations and let the memo speak for itself. I waited about a month for the replies that I knew were not coming, and when they did not, I made copies of the memo and distributed them in bars and beauty shops around the areas where the midget bank and its five or six branches existed. The “run” was underway! Common Consent! Critical Mass!
Just to keep everyone honest, on 15 May MMXI, I sent a letter to the president of Italy and again to the frivolous DisUnited States' ambassador sadly stating that no one had replied to my 15 March MMXI memo. Not even the Florence police chief! That piqued someone's interest—finally! I was summoned to appear at the DIGOS (Italian police investigative division) office in Florence, and they kindly asked me to explain why I was writing these memorandums. I expressed my concern for the Italian banking system. So did they! Then I asked: “What took you so long?”
It is important to realize that Italian police have an impossible task trying to keep straight Europe's most corrupt nation. In Florence, the offices of the DIGOS are understaffed, piles of dossiers are stacked on investigators' desks, and in the bureau where I was interrogated, four agents were cramped in together while the almost summer heat made the air-conditioned-less area stifling. The DIGOS functionaries were efficient, serious police officers. The individual who questioned me, Riccardo Lamperi, is a professional that all Italians should be proud of. But, he was stressed beyond normal and deeply concerned that his force lacked the manpower and means to effectively perform their duties. I compiled another memo and sent it to the president of the DisUnited States, Barack Obama, lauding Riccardo's abilities.
Acknowledging the good sense of the Banca d'Italia auditors is imperative. The president of the bank we bled in Tuscany was relieved of his “command” when his loony, criminal accounting habits were uncovered. His story has not run itself out yet because for all his efforts, he has been assigned a key role in the Silvio Berlusconi administration even though he is under investigation for corruption in Tuscan building dealings which had been contracted under his auspices during his bank president days! Come on down to Italy and steal!
My dear reader, are you proud of me? I am TheBankBuster!
It's easy to cause a run on a bank whether it be a major Swiss concern or a teeny-weeny Italian affair. Believe me. You must always keep one thing in mind: The felons that are holding your money think they are doing you a great favour! They swear that without them things would be terribly worse! Do not believe that! Bug them, torture their minds asking them just how their shenanigans are of benefit to you and your community. No violence. No dirty tricks. No emotional arousal. Be tenacious. Be boisterous. Be icy. Study the words “dignity” and “courage.” Become a BankBuster, too! Gather your forces. Common Consent. You will sleep well at night, feel a tingling, happy sensation all over yourself, and, above all, you will not be an inert accomplice to banking crimes. If you do not, the international financial system will sink on your watch, and you will swim with the Italians in their fiscal cesspool. Until you get moving, have a nice nightmare! Good luck, BankBuster!
Authored by Anthony St. John
1 June MMXI