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March 3rd 2020
By Chris Morrison
Show me a first-class, ocean-going financial or scientific scam and I will give you any number of useful idiot, press release-subbing journalists, dim-witted legislators and bandwagon cheerleaders only too happy to oblige and keep the game going for as long as possible.
As a young inquiring journalist of rough trade, I covered the Lloyd’s insurance market scandals of the 1980s which ended up impoverishing vast swaths of the British upper-middle class. During this period a once reputable institution that had prospered for 300 years by claiming my word is my bond became a den of deceit and fraud. Within 10 years the number of investors or “names” rose from around 2,000 to 20,000 with increasing losses being piled on their hapless shoulders. Meanwhile, the insiders who ran the joint skimmed the profits into offshore “reinsurance” bolt holes. During the decade the market became a Ponzi scheme with many of the insiders running a racket that would have drawn the admiration of Mafia casino gangsters.
Yet the investors got pulled in by the constant suggestion that Lloyd’s was the bluest of blue-chip. The names pledged their assets – all of them – in exchange for social prestige and the hope of large future profits.
Few journalists called it out, although it was obvious as the decade proceeded that something was seriously amiss. The FT had a good chap on the case, the Economist wagged a magisterial finger every now and then and Slicker in Private Eye was hardly a fan. But mostly the press and politicians took Lloyd’s at its word – small problems, move along, nothing to see here.
So much so that in 1986 Parliament nodded through a bill confirming and improving Lloyd’s self-regulating powers. As it was often noted in the pre-big bang City: self-regulation like self-abuse leads to exceedingly short sight.
Come amongst us today is a child prophet from the North who tells us that our house is on fire and we must remove the one efficient reliable fuel we have and harness our power from the wind and the sun. The dark age prophet says she has super-powers and claims to be able to see the invisible demon gas carbon dioxide. National treasure and revered voiceover artist Sir David Attenborough produces tv programmes featuring images of fire, storm and desolation and tells us that too many people live on the planet and we have only a few years to mend our ways.
State broadcaster Mr Jeremy Vine tweets that the recent meeting between the child prophet and the old Malthusian was one of the “most significant” radio events of the last decade.
It is suggested that the demon plant food is causing the world to turn into a fireball. There is no causal evidence for the unproven hypothesis but we have the forecasts of over 100 climate models that over 30 years have always been wrong. Yet so-called science journalists refuse even to discuss the science preferring to sub the work of green agitprop activists.
Last year the BBC’s Matt McGrath trousered 100,000 euros from a green activist group at a time when he reported 11,000 “scientists” were predicting “untold suffering” from the forthcoming climate emergency. Sadly, McGrab’s investigations did not extend to studying the list of largely self-identifying scientists where he would have discovered the presence of noted climate authorities such as Professor Mickey Mouse and Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
I mean come on, pull the other one. Again it takes me back to my financial beat in the 1980s and 90s. Around Lloyd’s in Lime Street, there was any number of small fringe or secondary players picking up scraps in the London insurance market. For instance Dai Ichi Kyoto Re – of Belgium. My own investigations into the non-existent Japanese pension funds said to have backed this company led to a writ from the main libel ambulance chaser of the time Peter Carter-Fuck (I think it is Ruck, but why change the habit of a lifetime?). Most journalists treated Dai Ichi as genuine as did many of the large insurance brokers of the time. When the last crook left the building after about five years, brokers such as Willis Faber, C T Bowring and Sedgwick were left chasing claims running into many millions of pounds.
But if the Cowboys didn’t get you, the Indians would have a go. In the early 90s, the Sovereign Cherokee Nation Tejas started providing worthless assets for obscure offshore reinsurers, many doing business in London. Tejas represented itself as a bona fide Indian tribe with an ancient culture created when an “act of God” separated its 154-acre territory in the Rio Grande. Later when investigating Tejas, a US congressional subcommittee suggested that it had in fact been dreamed up by a gentleman called Herbert “Little Bird On The Shoulder” Williams.
Until the Tejas fraud collapsed in 1992, Mr Dallas Bessant, the supposed tribe treasurer known to other braves as “Wise Otter”, played a key role in providing the worthless assets to reinsurers. One such instrument was treasury bills said to be backed by the “full faith and credit” of the Tejas tribe. Eventually, the congressional subcommittee starting issuing subpoenas leading tribe chief William “Chief Bear Who Walks Softly” Fry to complain to President George Bush.
You would think that you can’t make this stuff up but you can and your correspondent later met a number of the characters behind Tejas mostly in dodgy all-day drinkers around the back of the Minories. And I can report that they were still proud of their brave names along with their impeccable Cockney accents.
I say you can’t make it up but who would ever imagine that a US Senator, Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren, would subsequently claim native American heritage to blag a job at Harvard and then be taken seriously as a future US Presidential candidate?
I digress. So if allegedly smart investors, presumably inquiring journalists and on-the-ball legislators can be taken in by posh public school-educated crooks and Cockney barrow boys, what chance do we have against the giant global climate emergency scam. The new Conservative government has gone green crazy with its leader giving every indication that his views on the matter are formed by the latest person to have sat on him – whether the heavyweight Stanley or the more comely Carrie.
When he resigned from the US Association of Physical Science after 67 years’ membership, Hal Lewis, the emeritus professor of physics at the University of California, noted that the global warming scam was the “greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist”.
Back in the day, the motto of Lloyd’s was “Fidentia”, or Confidence. By all means, tell people the world is going to catch fire and demand with considerable menaces vast quantities of money to save them. And make sure you say it with plenty of Fidentia.
Please follow Chris on twitter @CMorrisonEsq