Skip to content or view screen version

Storm the Banks

imc | 06.03.2009 12:55 | G20 London Summit | Climate Chaos | Energy Crisis | Globalisation | Workers' Movements | London | World

Climate Rush activists gathered outside RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland), Thursday 5th March to protest the incredible multi million pound pay out to Fred (the shred) Goodwin, former RBS Chief Executive, and more importantly, the banks continuing role in funding the climate changing industries of coal, gas and oil. Posting the largest losses in British corporate history, RBS lost £24.1 billion in 2008 and has since had billions of pounds of taxpayers' money pumped into it. Already the largest bailout to date, the government has agreed to inject a further £13 billion on top of the £20 billion already given, and to make a further £6 billion available. While the tax payer now owns at least 70% of its shares, the bank continues to operate as a private company,

On the same day as the Climate Rush demo outside RBS, the Bank of England reduced the base interest rate to 0.5% and announced the printing of £100 billion pounds of new cash to inject into the stalled economy. Next month, the G20 leaders (G22 to be more precise) will arrive in London to discuss further ways to get the poor to bail out the rich. Various groups are mobilizing to protest against the summit which the police are co-promoting as part of a 'summer of rage'.

The G20 Meltdown group say they're going to reclaim the City, 'thrusting into the very belly of the beast', with a four pronged assault on the Bank of England at noon on 1st April. That afternoon, as part of a series of actions leading up to the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen, the Camp for Climate Action aim to expose how the discredited market mechanisms are being sold as a solution to climate change and are planning a climate camp in the city close the the Carbon Trading Exchange.

Links : Climate Rush target RBS Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | LCAP occupies RBS | Quantitive Easing | Corporate Undead | Image From The Future | Bristol Dissent g20 Call Out | Climate Camp hits the city | Press Complaint over G20 article | RBS boss pension | Arrogance of Capitalism | Environmental silver lining? | Climate chaos meets economic chaos | Bash a Billionaire | Doubt of global financial crisis? | Origins of the Credit Crunch | Summer of rage? | Demand for energy falling | Climate Crimes Delayed | Dissident Island Economic Special | "Pro-Capitalist" Mobilisation Video

By creating a brain-bending system of carbon pollution licenses, fossil fuel companies and trading firms have found a way to keep on churning out global warming gases and to reap huge windfall profits at the same time. Meanwhile, the UK government is justifying a third runway at Heathrow and a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth by saying that these new “carbon trading” schemes will magically make all their emissions vanish. They are handing control of our climate over to the same people and systems that caused the financial collapse. All the workable and fair alternatives aren't getting a look- in.

The Camp For Climate Action says we need to stop this foolishness. They've camped against the Heathrow runway, camped against the Kingsnorth coal power station. Now they plan to camp against the over- arching problem: absolute faith in unfettered markets and endless economic growth.

On April 1st the G20 leaders arrive in London. At a time of climate crisis their response to the market meltdown is emergency loans to car manufacturers, increased spending to encourage consumption, and bailouts for the very people who got us into this mess - just the things that will make the climate crisis worse.

"Don’t let them get away with it: join our camp in the Square Mile! Meet at 1pm, April 1st, at the European Carbon Exchange, Hasilwood House, 62 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AW. Bring a pop-up tent, sleeping bag, wind turbine, mobile cinema, action plans and ideas...let’s imagine another world. Don't let the financial and fossil fools make the rules!" -

The website of the newly formed G20 Meltdown group says, "Capitalism has been heating up our world for years, melting the icecaps, burning up the rainforests, pushing the planet to tipping point. Now we're going to put the heat on them. At the London Summit , the G20 ministers are trying to get away with the biggest April Fools trick of all time. Their tax-dodging, bonus-guzzling, pension-pinching, unregulated free market world's in meltdown, and those fools think we're going to bail them out. They've gotta be joking!"

G20 Meltdown has called apon the the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to lead their assault on the Bank Of England. Their carnival parades start at 11 a.m. from the rail stations:

  • Moorgate Red horse against War
  • Liverpool St Green horse against Climate chaos
  • London Bridge Silver horse against Financial crimes
  • Cannon Street Black horse against land enclosures and borders in honour of the 360th full circle anniversary of the Diggers

"Lost your home? Lost your job? Lost your pension? This party is for you!" -

Promo material: flyer, poster

On the 2nd of April many groups with be making their way to the Excel centre in Docklands where the summit takes place. Nearby there will be a convergence centre and counter summit taking place.

It's also worth mentioning, the huge 'Put People First' march being organised for the 28th March which Ian Bone predicts will be "bigger that the poll rax riot!"

Put People First is a coalition of development charities, trade unions, faith groups, environmentalists and other organisations, formed in response to call for a fair, sustainable route out of recession. Their platform is united by three linked calls: Decent jobs and public services for all, end poverty and inequality, build a green economy.

Meanwhile, before the G20 meet, the London Coalition Against Poverty, Disabled People’s Direct Action Network and Feminist Fightback are calling on all groups concerned with the eroding of our welfare rights to take part in a week of action against the Welfare Reform Bill, renamed by us as the Welfare Abolition Bill.

As the government has bailed out the banks and rewarded the bosses with big bonuses they have been stealthily pushing through a bill that will virtually abolish welfare for single parents and disabled people. Poor people are being made to pay for the financial crisis caused by the rich.

The bill proposes a number of Draconian changes including:

  • Introducing a compulsory work for benefits system in a US-style workfare scheme
  • Privatising more of the JobCentre Plus to companies which will be paid more the less benefits they award.
  • Increased punishments for claimants
  • Cuts on carers’ allowance
  • Forced 2-parent registration on birth certificates, including for survivors on violence

The third reading is expected near the end of March. We need to stand with those targeted to oppose the passing of this bill by taking dissent to the streets, to the government offices, to the bankers and the bosses.

A toolkit is available with more information on the bill and suggestions for action



Hide the following 12 comments


06.03.2009 13:49

One view of expected future crude oil production, after a world financial crash
One view of expected future crude oil production, after a world financial crash

Sorry about the source of these figures, but a quick search couldn't find a better article that has some concrete number, this is from February 20th, 2009:

"Britain’s public debt is about 142% of GDP, or about 2 trillion pounds. In one week, Britain’s debt has increased by 1.4 trillion pounds... It’s likely the fastest, largest increase in net national indebtedness in the history of the world.

What happened? On Thursday, Britain’s Office of National Statistics ruled that the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds (which had already taken over HBOS) are, thanks to the recapitalization agreements reached on October 13, now in the public sector. That is, they have been nationalized. Therefore, their liabilities belong on the national accounts.


RBS reported liabilities of 1.8 trillion pounds in June 2008.


of the about 3 trillion in reported liabilities the two banks reported in June 2008, between one-third and one-half will fall to the taxpayer.


Total bank liabilities reported in January 2009 were 7 trillion.


Of that 7 trillion pounds, about 4 trillion was denominated in foreign currencies. In the worst case scenario, Britain can pay off sterling debts by running the printing presses. But that does not work for debts in other currencies. This problem of foreign currency obligations was exactly what destroyed Iceland’s banks and brought the country to bankruptcy."’s-public-debt-up-by-14-trillion-pounds-this-week/

To get this in perspective, from The Times, January 12, 2008:

"The total value of homes in Britain reached a record £4 trillion last year."

It appears to me that there is a very real possibility of the UK doing an Iceland as part of a global Economic Collapse -- the beginning of the end of Industrial Civilization...

Some extracts from an article by Gail the Actuary from The Oil Drum:

"Hubbert's curve gives us an idea of what maximum oil production might be, given geologic constraints. My forecast is more at the opposite end of the range--what the worst case might look like, if the current debt unwind results in a major world-wide financial collapse.


When the economy hits limits, such as an oil supply that cannot grow fast enough to support the growth needed to keep the treadmill going, repaying the debt with interest becomes a huge burden. We have been reaching that point in the last few years, as oil production remained approximately flat and oil prices rose. Food prices rose as well, but real wages did not rise fast enough to keep the treadmill going. Soon defaults on debts started.

Once defaults started on debts, we suddenly shifted into a new cycle:

Peak oil -> higher oil prices, but little additional production-> stagnant wages -> defaults on debt -> banks not in a position to lend as much because of losses on loans -> debt harder to obtain -> lower demand -> lower prices on oil -> layoffs and less investment.

If it were only the oil industry with problems, one would think the problem would be self correcting, since less investment should lead to less production, and eventually prices would go back up, and at least part of the cycle would be fixed.

The problems caused by peak oil and resource limits are much more widespread than just with respect to oil. Besides the above cycle, we also have a more general cycle:

Peak oil -> higher oil prices, but little additional production-> stagnant wages -> little discretionary income -> cutbacks in buying many discretionary items -> layoffs (restaurants, newspapers, many businesses)-> more loan defaults -> banks not in a position to lend as much because of losses on loans -> debt harder to obtain -> lower demand -> lower prices on other commodities, like food -> more defaults and layoffs -> banks in even worse shape -> etc.

These cycles are leading to a huge unwind of debt that has barely begun. There are also a large number of derivative contracts outstanding, and some of these may generate huge payments (as has already happened at AIG). These also have barely begun to unwind.

It is not too hard to envision a situation where the worldwide banking system collapses, and it is necessary to start over, perhaps almost from scratch, with new currencies and new international treaties. As the result of such changes, there is at least the possibility that the world's financial system may function at only a minimal level, and world oil production will take place at only a very low level.


With all of the debt defaults, and the inability to settle all of the debts equitably, some sort of debt jubilee may be necessary. This may start with some small countries, like Iceland and perhaps the Ukraine defaulting on their debts. Gradually more and more countries will default, and their currencies will sink lower and lower.

After a certain point, it may become clear that virtually every economy in the world is in this mess together. There will be no way that more debt can be issued as "stimulus" to get the world out of this problem. The only thing that can be done is to start canceling debt, in some sort of debt jubilee, and to start over.

The problem with a debt jubilee is that there would be many too many claimants for many of the world's assets. If a wind turbine owner's debt is cancelled through a debt jubilee, who then "owns" the turbine--the original owner, or the lender whose debt was cancelled? If the debt of a factory making replacement parts for a wind turbine is cancelled, who runs the factory--the original owner of the factory, or the investor whose debt was cancelled?

The debts that are cancelled are likely to cross country borders, making for international disputes. Furthermore, countries may want to retaliate for a loss of one of their overseas investments by grabbing a business located in its own country that has overseas owners. In not very long, relationships among countries are likely to sink to deteriorate, and international trade will be at much lower levels than in the past. War may even break out, or border disputes.

"Demand" will be at new low levels, because there is likely to be very little cross-border trade, except with a few trusted partners. Without this trade, it will not be possible to manufacture goods, other than those using only local products. In this kind of scenario, prices (to the extent the monetary system continues to function) would continue to be very low, because of the low demand. (A factory that is not operating doesn't need raw materials!)

The credit market would be close to non-existent, because creditors will expect that any debt that is issued could easily be cancelled. New investment would be limited to what can be financed by cash flow. With low prices, this cash flow would be very low, further limiting investment.

It is possible that in some parts of the world, the monetary system will cease to function all together, and barter would become necessary. Because barter is so cumbersome, this is likely to have a further limiting impact on trade.

In such a scenario, I would expect that oil production would be significantly lower than the physical resource available. If nothing else, it will be difficult for the whole chain from local production to pipeline to refinery to distribution pipeline to consumer to function properly. Countries that previously exported oil overseas will see that their chances of getting paid are less than 100%, and may reduce their production to match what they can sell through arrangements with trusted parties.

Production of many other goods may decline as well, as the lack of an adequately functioning monetary system limits the ability of long supply lines to function properly. Natural gas and coal production may decline, as well as oil production. Food through mechanized farming may decline, as Liebig's Law of the Minimum makes itself known.


I show only a slight decline in production in 2009, but then large decreases in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to a level not much above 20 million barrels a day. If it reaches such a low level, due to a widespread failure of the financial system, I would expect electricity to be affected in many locations, and because of electricity, water and sewer systems. Some large cities may become uninhabitable.

Under such a scenario, I expect all of this would take a while to get sorted out. If there is a widespread failure of the monetary system, it is possible that many governments would be replaced. Some countries may fall to pieces, in the manner of the Soviet Union after its collapse in 1991. Governments may not have much faith in other governments--except perhaps with a few trusted trade /strategic partners. New monetary systems will likely be put in place, but many will not be any better than the previous ones, so bubbles and further collapses may occur.

In such an environment, international businesses will find it virtually impossible to survive. Businesses are likely become much smaller and more local. As I have shown on Figure 2, it may be many years before oil production begins to rise again. In fact, it may never rise again, if international trade stays at a low level.

I would expect that the renaissance, when it comes, would begin with basic human needs, in local communities and local agriculture. People will grow their own food, and trade with others in their community. There will be small shops that make shoes and clothing and cooking utensils. People may begin to raise animals for transportation.

People will still need energy for heating their homes and for cooking. The initial impulse will be to cut down trees for these purposes, but with the world's large population, this will tend to produce deforestation. Neo-environmentalists may urge people to use other products for this purpose--such as coal or oil, if these can be obtained. There may be some local electricity produced, particularly water generated, if transmission systems can be kept in good enough repair.

If this scenario happens, it is difficult for me to see much of a future for large complex systems that require specialized parts from around the world. Thus, I would expect large wind turbines to fall into disrepair in a few years, and solar PV panels to be very difficult to obtain, after such a crash scenario. Smaller windmills, similar to what a person sees on old farms, may come back into popular use, as may coal operated steam engines (at least in the US, where coal is still plentiful).

If you have been following the interconnected threads of what is occurring in our system, you are aware that the above scenario is at least a possibility. Due to the complexities involved, it is impossible to estimate a percentage likelihood of this particular trajectory, but the odds are increasing of something like it.

If such a scenario should happen, it could result in our world becoming a very different place in a very short time. If the odds of this happening are more than very slight, what should our response be? Should we be devoting all of our efforts towards avoiding this scenario, or allocating some resources towards adapting to it?"


Leave old Freddie alone.

06.03.2009 14:43

Harriet Harman said of Sir Fred Goodwin's pension deal:

" It may be enforceable in a court of law but it isn't enforceable in the court of public opinion. And that's where the government comes in."

By that it seems she is saying that the government are prepared to BREAK THE LAW. Not that the government is new to breaking the laws which they made, but they did agree to a legally binding pension deal, fair and squire. Now they must honor their agreement. If public opinion is that the deal should not have been made, the tax payer should make their opinion felt by not paying for it. The tax payer didn't agree to the deal, the government did. Let it come out of their wages.

Congratulations to Sir fred on his early retirement and pulling off such a great deal. We'd all do it it we could.


fat freddy

07.03.2009 12:03

"By that it seems she is saying that the government are prepared to BREAK THE LAW."

She really doesn't, she's simply asserting that the government's constitutional role is to make laws where existing one's do not serve the public interest. It'd be nice if she meant it.

"but they did agree to a legally binding pension deal, fair and squire."

No they didn't, the RBS board did.

"Congratulations to Sir fred on his early retirement and pulling off such a great deal. We'd all do it it we could."

Speak for yourself, some of use aren't sociopaths.

eddy fresh

Noone is innocent

07.03.2009 13:53

The total haul of the Great Train Robbery was less than four years of Freds pension; yet Ronnie Biggs is still in prison and Fred is still a 'Sir'.


RBS Climate Rush Video

07.03.2009 18:59

Just incase anyone is interested there is a short video clip:

Climate Rusher
- Homepage:

Climate change aside, the system HAS to be changed

09.03.2009 12:07

Banks, and not only the Central Banks like the Bank of England, but also high street banks, create "money" out of thin air.

Every time someone takes out a loan, their promise to pay it back with interest creates more money. The bank can lend out 10 times more money than they have on deposit from savers. The interest has to come from somewhere: more loans, more debt = more money. This is why countries national debt is in the trillions and nobody can say who it is owed to.

This video explains how this came about:

A good first step might be for governments to nationalise the Central Banks i.e. Bank of England, Federal Reserve, etc. Governments have the power to create money themselves, but they were conned into giving that power away to the private central banks. If they take back that power, they would no longer have to borrow from the central bank to run the country and spend our taxes on servicing those loans. That way our tax money would go much further.

Instead they are nationalising high street banks, leaving us to pay for it.

I wonder how many attending these marches / demos will hand out flyers or hold banners reading "GOOGLE FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING"




Bank of England, Federal Reserve etc

09.03.2009 17:16

Andy, the central banks are not private. They are independent of direct government control but they still belong to the state.


Are they private or public?

10.03.2009 10:58

Well, on paper perhaps. The Bank of England was nationalised after WW2. But the same people remained in charge and the government is still required to borrow money to run the country, which is impossible to pay back because the only way money is created is from more loans, which in turn demand more interest, etc.

The Federal Reserve may be a quasi-public institution, but nobody really knows who owns the controlling share. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and the required Internal Revenues Act were written by bankers on Jekyl Island, not the legislative branch of the government (Congress / Senate). The Internal Revenues Act was necessary to create the IRS to collect income tax to allow the government to raise the money to pay the interest on their loan from the Fed.

The financiers had their patsy in the white house (Woodrow Wilson) who could sign off on the acts. IIRC they passed the Acts on Christmas Eve or something so that very few congressmen were there to vote. Later Wilson opined that he had "unwittingly ruined his country" by giving away the right to control the issuance of currency to a private bank.

Discussion of whether central banks are private or not is a diversion from the real problem of how the banking system creates poverty by design.


text alerts?

25.03.2009 18:31

while signing up for text alerts sounds useful, i'm concerned that - despite the organizers' best intentions - handing over your mobile number could mean handing it over the cops who may gain access to the list. i'd be happy to hear otherwise!


Umm... what about us humble IT workers?

30.03.2009 23:30

This scares me.

I'm diagnosed Asperger Syndrome, and I work in the IT industry... I don't think I could cope without a high-tech economy...

What about us?

Alex Cockell

The poor enrich the rich

01.04.2009 21:08

Danny, there's a couple of several ways to get money. One is doing it legally, on paper, the other is doing like Ronnie Biggs and co did.

And, moreover, the poor will always be bailing out the rich. The poor work for the rich. Ooops, I meant slave hard for the rich. And that will forever be the case! Simples! Seriously, there's going to be no space in the world soon to encapsulate all this moaning and groaning from poor and rich alike. But, not to worry, mates, because our old mate Gordon and co are going to sort this bloody gigantic financial mess out before you can utter the words fairy dust! Mind boggling, eh?

Francis H. Giles