Sunday, November 25, 2007

[england] where the sun never sets


First, the geography. People are forever pointing out how small Britain is but the length of the main island is 836 miles or 1329 kilometres. That's not short.

Given that most city states in the early days were relatively small and that disused Roman roads were pretty well impassable, given that the Elmet held out against the Anglian Northumbria and had little to do with the Saxon south, England as such developed pretty unevenly.

If pressed, I'd say the land from the Humber to the Firth of Forth and across to Cumbria are my extremities, York's pretty well the furthest south I'd call home but Lindisfarne is a little too far north. Beckfoot Bridge in the west riding settles the western limit.

Is this England? Well, it's as “England” as we're going to get. It's just as “England” as the Norfolk Broads [nice ladies all], Liverpool or Small Dole. But it's clearly not enough for a definition.

Wensleydale, Double Gloucester, Blue Vinney, Theakstons, Camerons, Bass, Marston's Pedigree, the pub culture [before it was destroyed by teen-binge-asbo-videoscreen-headnumbing] - do they help create a definition of England?

Drystone walls, railway embankments, signal boxes, dry fly fishing, the salmon, the chippy, mushy peas, Falling Foss, Ugglebarnby, fields and hedgerows, public walkways, shooting sticks, Coronation Street, the Archers, Tony Hancock, Barbours, wellies, anoraks [the people], football, rugby, cricket, Wimbledon [not the Crazy Gang], the Severn Bore - how am I going?

Anything with an “-oze” ending [Rumbelows, Prestos, Tescos], DIY barns outside towns, the Tube, weird names like Lunn Poly and BUPA, Gyrocheques [don't know much about these], Boots, Marks & Sparks, Covent Garden.

These are just fragments in the makeup which is England.

The cynical moving in of the EU, attempting to exploit historical regional differences, shows a complete lack of understanding of our essential cross-county battiness. It's our eccentric tastes and passive resistance which will eventually drive the invader from our shores – if they don't go out of their tree first.

There's the past I miss too - Carnaby Street, Ska music from 1980, Splodginess Abounds, the whole scene of those days. The Stranglers, Gypsy Moth IV before they stole it and burnt the Cutty Sark, Biggles and Algy's strange relationship - we could go on and on.

Some of us are stranded, far-flung from native shores but isn't this also English? From Clive of India to Milligan, we've lived all over the place and for different reasons. Philby and Burgess insisted on their copies of the Times; I personally miss Radio 4's 12 midnight chimes and the shipping forecast. I miss BBC 1's 4.52 p.m. Final Score and Doctor Who [oh how I miss this]. I miss Sunday Lunches with convivial company.

So yes, much of my life has been spent [and still is] outside that green, pleasant, maddening and frustrating land, some count me American, Australian, even Russian, my accent is an RP mess with a hint of drawl and twang but there's an Englishness inside which is forever surfacing and cannot be denied. Surely only someone as batty as an Englishman could derive some form of pleasure from this nightly entertainment:
Dogger Fisher German Bight: Northwest 7 to severe gale 9, occasionally storm 10 in Fisher and German Bight, decreasing 5 or 6 in Dogger. Rough or very rough, occasionally high at first. Wintry showers. Moderate or good.
Sublime. Reassuring. It also happens to be tonight's forecast so you'd best head for home whilst you still can.

6 comments:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Lovely post, James. Oh, how I miss the shipping forecast - and "Sailing By"! Never thought about how very "english" it is to live abroad before.

UBERMOUTH said...

James,
I never love England so much as when I am in my adopted country, Canada. Then when I am living here, ( I bounce between the two countries) I miss Canada. THAT is the problem with having two homes in two different countries, you are always homesick for one.
I consider myself English as I was born here and spent 1/3 my life here . I have never made it out of the South though, so my England is VERY small.
After living here( in the wilds) steady for the past 8 years, I could not go back to a bustling city life now.
I wish I could take our farm back to Canada.
Actually, I am going to do an England post for you with pictures of our property for the homesick 007

Anonymous said...

Ahhh!, the green grass of home.

Are you returning for a spell this Christmas, you are not a million miles away, a pint might be nice?

Speaking of forecasts :-

Deutsche Bank got a hard shock a few days ago when a judge in the state of Ohio in the USA made a ruling that the bank had no legal right to foreclose on 14 homes whose owners had failed to keep current in their monthly mortgage payments. Now this might sound like small beer for Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s largest banks with over €1.1 trillion (Billionen) in assets worldwide. As Hilmar Kopper used to say, “peanuts.” It’s not at all peanuts, however, for the Anglo-Saxon banking world and its European allies like Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Barclays Bank, HSBC or others. Why?

A US Federal Judge, C.A. Boyko in Federal District Court in Cleveland, Ohio ruled to dismiss a claim by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. DB’s US subsidiary was seeking to take possession of 14 homes from Cleveland residents living in them, in order to claim the assets.

Here comes the hair in the soup. The Judge asked DB to show documents proving legal title to the 14 homes. DB could not. All DB attorneys could show was a document showing only an “intent to convey the rights in the mortgages.” They could not produce the actual mortgage, the heart of Western property rights since the Magna Carta if not longer.

Again why could Deutsche Bank not show the 14 mortgages on the 14 homes? Because they live in the exotic new world of “global securitisation”, where banks like DB or Citigroup buy tens of thousands of mortgages from small local lending banks, “bundle” them into Jumbo new securities which then are rated by Moody’s or Standard & Poors or Fitch, and sell them as bonds to pension funds or other banks or private investors who naively believed they were buying bonds rated AAA, the highest, and never realised that their “bundle” of say 1,000 different home mortgages, contained maybe 20% or 200 mortgages rated “sub-prime,” i.e. of dubious credit quality. Oops! A tiny legal detail our Wall Street Rocket Scientist derivatives experts ignored when they were bundling and issuing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of CMO’s in the past six or seven years. As of January 2007 some $6.5 trillion of securitised mortgage debt was outstanding in the United States. That’s a lot by any measure!

In the Ohio case Deutsche Bank is acting as “Trustee” for “securitisation pools” or groups of disparate investors who may reside anywhere. But the Trustee never got the legal document known as the mortgage. Judge Boyko ordered DB to prove they were the owners of the mortgages or notes and they could not. DB could only argue that the banks had foreclosed on such cases for years without challenge. The Judge then declared that the banks “seem to adopt the attitude that since they have been doing this for so long, unchallenged, this practice equates with legal compliance. Finally put to the test,” the Judge concluded, “their weak legal arguments compel the court to stop them at the gate.” Deutsche Bank has refused comment.

Hundreds of thousands of struggling homeowners who took the bait in times of historically low interest rates to buy a home with often, no money paid down, and the first 2 years with extremely low interest rate in what are known as “interest only” Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), now face exploding mortgage monthly payments at just the point the US economy is sinking into severe recession. The peak period of the US real estate bubble was 2005-2006. Now a whole new wave of mortgage defaults is about to explode onto the scene beginning January 2008. Between December 2007 and July 1, 2008 more than $690 Billion in mortgages will face an interest rate jump according to the contract terms of the ARMs written two years before.

There are a total of $1.4 trillion in “interest only” ARMs according to the US research firm, First American Loan Performance. A recent study calculates that, as these ARMs face staggering higher interest costs in the next 9 months, more than $325 billion of the loans will default leaving 1 million property owners in technical mortgage default. But if banks are unable to reclaim the homes as assets to offset the non-performing mortgages, the US banking system and a chunk of the global banking system faces a financial gridlock that will make events to date truly “peanuts” by comparison.

And this is only the extent of the “sub-prime” dislocation.

Factor in the Chinese halt on bank loans until the new year, and the resulting credit crisis in China and South Korea, and the total freeze in the European covered bond trade of last week due to be (hopefully unravelled by Monday (tomorrow), and we have the formula for Global problems.

The following is an E-mail from Paul Kasriel, V.P. and Director of Economic Research at The Northern Trust Company.

This was written in December 2006, well before the current unwinding.

Japan experienced a deflation in recent years because the bursting of its asset-price bubble in the early 1990s created huge losses in its banking system. The Japanese banks had financed the asset-price bubble. When it burst, the debtors could not keep current on their loans to the banks and therefore were forced to turn back the collateral to the banks. The market value of the collateral, of course, was less than the amount of the loans outstanding, thereby inflicting huge losses of capital to the Japanese banks. With the decline in bank capital, the Japanese banks could not extend new credit to the private sector even though the Bank of Japan was offering credit to the banks at very low nominal rates of interest. (My comment :-because of legally mandated reserves/lending ratios)

Banks are an important transmission mechanism between the central bank and the private economy. If the banks are unable or unwilling to extend the cheap credit being offered to them by the central bank, then the economy grows very slowly, if at all. This happened in the U.S. during the early 1930s.

U.S. banks currently hold record amounts of mortgage-related assets on their books. If the housing market were to go into a deep recession resulting in massive mortgage defaults, the U.S. banking system could sustain huge losses similar to what the Japanese banks experienced in the 1990s. If this were to occur, the Fed could cut interest rates to zero but it would have little positive effect on economic activity or inflation. (My comment :- precisely what is now happening)

Short of the Fed depositing newly-created money directly into private sector accounts, I suspect that a deflation would occur under these circumstances. Again, crippled banking systems tend to bring on deflations. And crippled banking systems seem to result from the bursting of asset bubbles because of the sharp decline in the value of the collateral backing bank loans.

Most people are not aware of actions the Fed took during the great depression. Bernanke claims that the Fed did not act strong enough during the great depression. This is simply not true. The Fed slashed interest rates and injected huge sums of base money but it did no good. More recently, Japan did the same thing. It also did no good. If default rates get high enough, banks will simply be unwilling to lend which will severely limit money and credit creation. (My comment :- particularly now. Given the slicing and dicing of financial intruments, banks are unable to quantify their balance sheets, so are unable to lend, - they can't quantify, so they can’t calculate based on the legally mandated reserves/lending ratio)

Inflation is a monetary phenomenon related to increases in money supply and credit as opposed to rising prices, this time around (Emphasis mine, in 2006). Greenspan was so lucky. Inflation was masked by China entering the world trading arena. In that environment the Fed could create large amounts of money and credit without causing inflation other than in asset prices.

Remember this was written in 2006, before China started experiencing and exporting inflation.

Culpability Brown is out of his depth. Bernanke is floundering, so who has the brain and charisma to hold it together?


Batten down the hatches, cold winds are coming.

On the other side of the coin :-

Of course the legally mandated ratios could be eased, but the authorities would be reticent to do that in the face of opaque bank balance sheets.

And the DB ruling may be overturned in the higher courts.

Now read these
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6a8adc9a-99b7-11dc-ad70-0000779fd2ac,dwp_uuid=fe95602e-e821-11db-b2c3-000b5df10621.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/11/21/cngieve121.xml

Some knowledgeable folks are speaking of the total derivatives out there being of the order of $500 Trillion, and years to unravel, and that's IF there is the political will.

Pass the booze, Alice.

Colin Campbell said...

Wow Anonymous. Interesting stuff. Why don't you start a blog rather than hijacking posts on the glory that is England.

Julie said...

James and Welshcakes - you can listen online to the shipping forecast here if it will play in your parts of the world.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/broadband/
bb_rm_console.shtml?show=shipping

Anonymous said...

Hijacking, Colin?
NO.No-one is preventing you making a post relative to the Glory of England.

After 2 days you failed.
Guess it is easier to just snipe.
Typical!