Monday 18 February 2008

Sharia — Chameleons on the carpet?

Yesterday I slunk away from the kiddies’ sleepover for Jon Moulton’s Dispatches programme on Banks and the Credit Crunch. Mr Moulton is a high powered Private Equity specialist, founder of Alchemy Partnership. He knows a lot about dodgy finance, and he thinks the whole silly thing is a self-inflicted wound, born of greed. Banks bought shedloads of dodgy debt on the back of Collateralized Loan Obligations — World of Warcraft style “alchemy” that transforms dross debt into a golden opportunity for six figure bonuses. Turns out it was fool’s gold, but the suits picked up their bonuses anyway. Make no mistake who’s paying for this lot long term — it isn’t the suits. On the day they nationalised Northern Rock, John McFall (Chair of the UK Treasury Select Committee) reminds us
banks are the only institutions that socialise the losses and privatise the profits
“all because those men in expensive suits got too greedy,’’ concludes Mr Moulton. The FSA is enquiring into its own handling of the Northern Rock Fiasco and will surely conclude (Mystic Meg Voice, please) “It was just One of Those Things.” Meanwhile the UK banks are, I think, £31Bn down the Swanee, and new Fantastickal Alchemy models are lining up on the runway to ensure next year’s bonuses.

One interesting study option in a debt driven crisis is Sharia Finance. Like Traditional (=pre-Capitalist) Christianity, this forbids the Scriptural Sin of Usury. It’s particularly interesting at a time the British government has been making the City of London what it calls “the Key Western Centre for Muslim Finance.” But you can only mention this in company if you play the Sharia Card (below).
You play this to people and see if they explosively fill their pants and start screaming at you. If they don’t, you can have a rational discussion. As a lad I wondered whether chameleons really exploded on Tartan Carpets. Now I can find out, by playing the Sharia Card with the editor of the Daily Mail. The worst Bad Thing in the DM world is being Foreign and Muslim. The highest Good is a prosperous housing market. So Sharia finance must be good. No it’s not, it’s bad. No it’s not, it’s good. No, it’s bad. No, Good. Bad. Good. Bad. Good. Bad. Boooooom!

No Daily Mail. Clean Air at last.

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