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Decline Of West Where Mathewson Rues What Rbs Wrought

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Decline of West Where Mathewson Rues What RBS Wrought

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- In a white shooting lodge above a Highland stream where salmon return after navigating ocean currents, George Mathewson, the 69-year-old architect of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s global expansion, rues the day his handpicked successor, Fred Goodwin, brought down the company, shaking the foundations of capitalism and undermining Scottish independence.

“Any money I’ve earned has all been in RBS stock, enough to make a serious loss,†said Mathewson, who sat arms crossed in his attic office next to a portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson, the Edinburgh-born author of “Treasure Island.†“You are going from a situation where people were really proud to work for RBS -- it was a distinction -- to a situation where RBS is vilified every time you see it.â€

Like Citigroup Inc. in the U.S. and UBS AG in Switzerland, RBS expanded on three continents going into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. The Edinburgh-based bank became Europe’s biggest by assets under Goodwin, securitizing subprime U.S. mortgages in Connecticut, arranging high-risk loans for leveraged takeovers from London to Milan, and collecting customer deposits as far away as Hong Kong.

Then it collapsed, losing 47 billion pounds ($77 billion) of market value from its peak in December 2007 and dashing Mathewson’s hope that a booming Scottish banking industry would help re-establish sovereignty after 302 years.

U.K. Bailout

Scotland’s blue-and-white flag fluttered in the misty breeze at the foot of the beech-lined drive to Mathewson’s house -- a sign of the former RBS chairman and chief executive officer’s lifelong support for an independent Scotland. A Scottish deerhound greeted visitors at the door.

Mathewson, displaying the reserve associated with Scottish rectitude, refused to put all the blame for the bank’s failures on Goodwin, 50. He was conflicted about his protégé, a former accountant, whom he credited for his role in the 2000 takeover of London-based National Westminster Bank Plc.

RBS said yesterday it had cleared Goodwin of any misconduct in relation to expenses or the use of company assets that would justify reducing his pension from the bank. At the same time, Goodwin agreed to take a lower payout for his retirement.

Still, RBS’s record 24.1 billion-pound loss in 2008, its 20 billion-pound U.K. bailout last October and the 11,700 job cuts announced this year weigh on Mathewson, even in the quiet Perthshire countryside.

Darien Disaster

While Mathewson, who retired in 2006, was eager to talk about his triumphs at RBS, his mood darkened when asked to explain what went wrong under Goodwin.

“It’s difficult because I was always his boss, but Fred has one quality which is innate in him, and it’s something he probably doesn’t recognize in himself: It would appear that he frightens people,†Mathewson said in an April 30 interview. “People have not been telling him bad news.

‘‘Fred finds difficulty in admitting he might have got something wrong,’’ he said.

In the Georgian squares beneath Edinburgh Castle, Scots compare RBS’s tribulations to the failure of a trading colony at Darien in Panama in 1700, which bankrupted the nation and triggered its loss of independence. England financed a bailout in exchange for a united Parliament in London. In 1727, some of the funds were used to found the Royal Bank of Scotland.

‘‘This is the biggest Scottish financial disaster since Darien, without doubt,’’ said Douglas Watt, an historian whose book, ‘‘The Price of Scotland,’’ tells of how more than 1,500 colonists perished in combat and from tropical diseases as they struggled to gain a foothold in the region then dominated by Spain and England. ‘‘Scottish independent banking has imploded.’’

Downgraded Reputations

The demise of RBS is the culmination of events dating back to the 1990s, when Mathewson and Peter Burt, a former CEO of rival Bank of Scotland, expanded to avoid being acquired in a globalizing finance industry. They jousted for supremacy in a takeover battle for NatWest, then the U.K.’s third-biggest lender.

Mathewson is part of a generation of ambitious chief executive officers who bought stakes in markets thousands of miles from home. In the U.S., the group included Sanford ‘‘Sandy’’ Weill at Citigroup and Hugh McColl at Bank of America Corp. Hailed as visionaries when they retired, their reputations have since been downgraded. Some of their successors couldn’t manage the far-flung operations they assembled. Others just kept swelling their banks’ assets and exposure to disaster.

‘They Blew It’

RBS is now 70 percent-owned by the government. Bank of Scotland, which changed its name to HBOS Plc after merging with England’s Halifax Group Plc in 2001, is part of London-based Lloyds Banking Group Plc. Citigroup was forced to give an equity stake to the government after record losses. In Zurich, UBS received 6 billion Swiss francs ($5.5 billion) of federal aid.

‘‘They got greedy, and they blew it,†Burt, 65, said in an interview of those who came after him at Bank of Scotland. “We’ve lost a lot of money, and they’ve damaged the country.â€

The failure of Edinburgh’s two oldest banks has left Scots reeling. The two banks lost a combined 31.6 billion pounds last year on bad loans ranging from U.S. subprime mortgages to European leveraged buyouts.

How RBS and HBOS managed to lose so much dominates conversations from Edinburgh’s Cramond Brig pub to the Thatcher Room in London’s Portcullis House, where Parliament’s Treasury Committee conducted hearings. To George Edwards, 70, who worked for Goodwin as head of corporate affairs at Clydesdale Bank Plc in Glasgow in the 1990s, the key is fear. He said he was still uneasy talking about Goodwin after 14 years.

‘Fred the Shred’

At Clydesdale, a unit of National Australia Bank Ltd., Goodwin earned the nickname “Fred the Shred.†He joined the bank in 1995 after 16 years as an accountant at Touche Ross & Co., now part of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Goodwin didn’t get the name because of the jobs and costs he cut, as is usually reported, Edwards said in an interview at Cramond Brig.

“It was because he was inclined to tear people and ideas to shreds,†said Edwards, recalling how Goodwin’s eyes blazed and his face reddened. “People did not like having to present to him because he could be so unpleasant. I can’t think of him ever encouraging debate.â€

Mathewson said the notion that Goodwin’s nickname reflected his reputation for firing people never rang true.

“He tends to strangle them and they go,†Mathewson said. “You do that by moving their responsibilities or by cutting them out of things -- things I would never do.â€

Morning Meetings

Jeremy Peat, RBS’s chief economist from 1993 to 2005, said Goodwin often intimidated managers at morning meetings.

“By the time it got around to me, he had usually been extremely critical of one person around the table and torn them off a strip,†said Peat, 64, now director of Edinburgh’s David Hume Institute, an economic research organization. “He would not necessarily shout, but it would be clear from his body language and his words that he was very cross with what he perceived they had done. And that was in front of their peers.

‘‘It’s the way he ran things,’’ Peat said. ‘‘He was impatient with anyone who didn’t see things his way.’’

Goodwin’s public relations advisers Phil Hall and David Burnside said the former RBS chief wouldn’t comment.

Under Goodwin, named businessman of the year in 2002 by Forbes magazine’s international edition, RBS’s balance sheet swelled to 2.4 trillion pounds -- bigger than the entire U.K. economy. The bank became one of the three largest underwriters of subprime mortgage-backed securities in the U.S. In Europe, it was the leading arranger of high-risk leveraged loans, funding buyouts by private-equity firms such as New York-based KKR & Co.

ABN Amro Takeover

Goodwin also pushed through the world’s biggest bank takeover, the 72 billion-euro ($100 billion) purchase of Amsterdam-based ABN Amro Holding NV with partners Banco Santander SA of Spain and Belgium’s Fortis after global money markets froze in 2007. The acquisition saddled RBS with bad debt and depleted its cash reserves.

‘‘It can now be seen as the wrong price, the wrong way to pay, at the wrong time and the wrong deal,†Philip Hampton, who became RBS’s chairman in February, said at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre on April 3. “That is the painful reality that we can now do nothing to change.â€

Shareholders at the meeting were greeted by a prankster in a Fred Goodwin mask. One member of the audience, who wouldn’t give his name, criticized the “regime of fear†under the man who was RBS’s CEO from 2000 until last November.

“Fred Goodwin was a hard-driving and decisive character,†Hampton told shareholders. “There’s no room in RBS now for victimization or bullying. No organization can run successfully in that sort of way.â€

‘Willy-Nilly’

Fear was also at work at HBOS, according to Paul Moore, a former head of risk at the bank. Moore said he was fired in 2004 by then CEO James Crosby after complaining that the bank’s sales culture was out of control.

“These banks were trying to grow assets willy-nilly,†Moore said in an interview. “Why didn’t the internal risk managers speak up? Were they too frightened?â€

Shane O’Riordain, a spokesman for Lloyds who previously worked at HBOS, declined to comment about Moore.

Goodwin, who is married and has two children, hasn’t appeared in public since February. He generated outrage in the U.K. by initially refusing to repay part of his 703,000-pound annual pension after the government rescued RBS. The bank said yesterday that Goodwin had agreed to reduce the amount to 342,500 pounds.

‘Lightning Conductor’

The son of an electrician, Goodwin was born in Paisley near Glasgow. The gray two-bedroom terraced house where he lived as a child is next to what the government calls Scotland’s most deprived housing project. Now Goodwin has become the “lightning conductor†for anger at British bankers, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said in a March 26 interview.

“Goodwin made a grievous error in the takeover of ABN Amro,†said Salmond, whom Mathewson advises on economic policy. “He made a huge misjudgment in taking his pension entitlement.â€

The backlash turned violent in March. In Edinburgh’s leafy Grange suburb, vandals shattered the windows of Goodwin’s house, which he bought for 1 million pounds in 1999, according to the Registers of Scotland. A black Mercedes S600 in the driveway was also damaged. Then on April 1, protesters marking what they called “Financial Fools Day†smashed their way into an RBS branch opposite the Bank of England in London.

Risk Buildup

“It is just too simple if you want to blame it all on me,†Goodwin told the U.K. Parliament’s Treasury Committee in February. “If you want to blame it all on me and close the book, that will get the job done very quickly, but it does not go anywhere close to the cause of all of this.â€

Goodwin gathered power and credibility during 10 years at RBS. He raked in plaudits from Queen Elizabeth II, who knighted him in 2004, and from Prince Charles, who made him chairman of his charitable trust. He advised U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, also a Scot, on credit unions, the customer-owned lenders in poorer parts of the country. The bank’s net income rose 295 percent to 7.3 billion pounds from 2000 to 2007.

Stephen Hester, 48, who replaced Goodwin in November, said those rising profits distracted managers from a buildup of risk on the balance sheet. Total assets grew 475 percent to 1.84 trillion pounds over the same period of time -- a greater rate than the profit growth.

‘Borrowed Too Much’

“We borrowed too much and then lent too much,†Hester said at the bank’s annual meeting.

Linda Harper, a spokeswoman for RBS, says the company has made a clean break with the past.

“Everyone at RBS understands the need for profound change,†Harper said. “We are 100 percent focused on getting our house in order so we can repay the support of the U.K. taxpayer.â€

The loss of independence is particularly painful for Mathewson, who spent his 19-year career at the bank expanding its operations and trying to preserve Edinburgh’s status as one of the world’s oldest financial capitals.

Scots were at the center of a financial revolution that started in the late 1600s and led to the ascent of paper currencies worldwide, said Watt, the historian. To this day, banks in Scotland issue their own notes.

John Law, a Scottish banker, campaigned across Europe for the creation of bank notes backed by land, silver or gold as a means of exchange to boost trade. In France in the early 1700s, his ideas and actions triggered a speculative bubble based on the trading of Mississippi land.

Adam Smith

Philosopher Adam Smith developed modern capitalism’s intellectual foundations later in the 1700s, in a period known as the Scottish Enlightenment, with his theory of free-market economics in “The Wealth of Nations.â€

A Scot even helped create the Bank of England in 1694, when William Paterson devised a plan to raise money to lend 1.2 million pounds to the government. Two years later, Paterson was back in Scotland, where he secured pledges for 400,000 pounds, more than a quarter of the country’s liquid wealth, to start a colonial expedition to Darien.

“Paterson’s key skill was in coffee houses and taverns, where he persuaded potential investors to hand over their money,†Watt said. “You’ve got to convince someone to hand over bullion for a piece of paper. It’s difficult now, but in the 1690s that was revolutionary.â€

New Edinburgh

Paterson’s attempt to found a city called New Edinburgh in Darien to channel trade between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans ended in 1700, when Spanish troops attacked. English settlers in the Americas were ordered not to assist the Scottish enterprise.

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, a descendent of a Darien colonist according to Watt, fulfilled Paterson’s dream two centuries later with the building of the Panama Canal.

Three centuries after the Darien debacle, Burt and Mathewson were planning how to bolster their banks to avoid being acquired. RBS and Bank of Scotland thwarted takeover attempts by English banks in the 1980s. By the 1990s, it was England’s banks and building societies, its customer-owned lenders, which were prime targets.

“We talked to more building societies than I knew existed -- Bristol & West, Northern Rock, dozens -- about a takeover so we could get our hands on their retail deposits,†Burt said.

At RBS, Mathewson boosted his management team to prepare for growth, hiring Goodwin in July 1998. Goodwin, who attracted Mathewson’s attention while at Clydesdale, asked to be deputy CEO.

“I was happy to accede,†said Mathewson.

Burt said he also would have hired Goodwin.

NatWest Bidding War

Mathewson and Burt locked horns in 1999 in what was to be their defining battle: the 21 billion-pound takeover of NatWest, a company twice the size of each of the Scottish banks. Framed newspaper cartoons of the takeover fight hang in Mathewson’s mountain home.

“There’s Peter Burt opening the door of NatWest for me to walk in and a huge trap here, because everyone thought the winner was going to be a loser,†Mathewson said of one cartoon.

Mathewson was pacing the fairways of the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, watching two Scottish players in the Ryder Cup, when he got the call in September 1999 that informed him of Burt’s offer for NatWest.

“I was hiding behind a bush,†Mathewson said. “You’re not supposed to be on a mobile phone there.â€

The struggle continued until early 2000, when institutional investors decided to support RBS’s bid. Mathewson also gained backing from Santander, run by Emilio Botin, who later joined RBS in the ABN Amro takeover.

Buying Binge

The NatWest deal made RBS the U.K.’s biggest corporate lender and second-largest consumer bank. It also added Coutts & Co., the private bank with wealthy clients such as Queen Elizabeth II; Northern Ireland’s Ulster Bank; and Greenwich Capital Markets, a U.S. bond-trading firm founded in 1981. When the acquisition was completed in early 2000, Goodwin became CEO. Mathewson stayed on as deputy chairman and then chairman.

Goodwin continued on an acquisitive path, spending 1.1 billion pounds to buy the U.K.’s Churchill Insurance Group Plc in 2003 and $10.3 billion for Cleveland-based Charter One Financial Inc. in 2004. RBS already had extensive U.S. operations through Providence, Rhode Island-based Citizens Financial Group Inc., which it bought in 1988.

CDO Writedowns

The Scottish bank also increased its reach in the securitization business. RBS Greenwich Capital, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, underwrote $188 billion of subprime mortgage-backed securities from 2003 to 2007, according to industry publication Inside Mortgage Finance, ranking among the category’s top three underwriters during each of those years.

Rick Caplan was hired from New York-based Citigroup in 2006 to be co-head of the collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, team, which repackaged assets such as mortgage bonds and buyout loans into new debt.

Under Caplan, the number of traders on Greenwich Capital’s CDO desk doubled to 25. RBS issued $16.3 billion of CDOs in 2006, up from $4 billion in 2005, according to the trade publication Asset-Backed Alert. Caplan, who left the firm in 2007, declined to comment.

After credit markets slumped at the end of 2007 and losses had to be recognized on RBS’s balance sheet, CDOs accounted for the largest portion of the 1.5 billion pounds of writedowns announced by the company in December of that year. Twenty CDOs originated by RBS totaling almost $16.5 billion were in events of default as of May 13 of this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

‘Over-Expansion’

Three former executives at Greenwich Capital said the pressure to plunge deeper into growth areas such as CDOs came from Edinburgh and London.

“They believed you had to be one of the top three in all the markets you’re in,†said Glen Capelo, a former Treasuries trader at the firm who’s now a managing director at Broadpoint Capital Inc. in New York. “That leads to over-expansion.â€

Mathewson said Goodwin wasn’t an expert in RBS’s capital markets operations, which were overseen by Johnny Cameron and Brian Crowe.

“The question that might be asked is: If he needs to be in control, how did the markets division get out of control?†Mathewson said.

Cameron, 54, who left RBS’s board in October, couldn’t be reached for comment. Crowe, 51, who stepped down the same month for health reasons, declined to be interviewed.

Defying Sir Fred

Goodwin built a 350 million-pound headquarters on the site of a former psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh. He added a Starbucks store, a Tesco supermarket and the RBS Business School for training bank managers.

Cash machines in the building issued only RBS bank notes with Goodwin’s signature on them, not Mathewson’s, Paul Myners, the government’s treasury minister, told the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the U.K. Parliament, on April 28. RBS spokeswoman Harper said Myners’s claim wasn’t true.

On the headquarters’ western edge, Goodwin’s ambitions butted up against Moira Brown and 306 other members of the 12- hole Gogarburn Golf Club. Goodwin wanted to buy the club for his staff and offered 4,000 pounds to each member. The club unanimously rejected the offer in February 2003.

“We said no to Sir Fred Goodwin,†said Brown, 61, Gogarburn’s treasurer, punching the air in her clubhouse.

“The mood was defiant,†she said. “This is ours, and it wasn’t for sale.â€

Barclays Offer

Goodwin boasted of the bank’s contributions to society.

“We continued to be the largest corporate taxpayer in the U.K.,†he wrote in the 2006 corporate responsibility report, “supporting the government in the provision of public services such as schools, hospitals and state pensions.â€

RBS paid 16 billion pounds in corporate taxes during the decade that Goodwin was there, not enough to fund the government bailout of the bank.

Goodwin embarked on his most audacious project in April 2007, making a cash-and-stock offer for ABN Amro to counter a bid by Barclays Plc CEO John Varley and President Robert Diamond.

ABN Amro wrote to Goodwin’s group on May 1, 2007 -- 300 years to the day after Scotland’s Parliament was united with England’s -- to ask how the consortium planned to finance about 50 billion euros in cash.

RBS, Santander and Fortis came up with the cash. Their victory in the battle for the Dutch bank saved Barclays, Mathewson said.

“John Varley and Bob Diamond must wake up every morning thanking God and Fred Goodwin because it would have wiped out Barclays totally,†he said.

Pension Negotiations

Goodwin’s credibility deteriorated along with RBS’s finances in 2008. That February, Goodwin told investors he had no plans to sell new shares to raise cash. Two months later, he announced a 12 billion-pound stock sale. RBS wrote down 5.9 billion pounds in the first half of 2008, with ABN Amro contributing about a third of that.

By Oct. 12, RBS shares had plummeted 81 percent since the start of the year, and the bank faced a collapse that threatened the U.K.’s financial system.

In the early hours of Oct. 13, Goodwin was locked in talks with executives at the bank he helped lead through more than $140 billion of takeovers. At 7:17 a.m., investors would learn from a London Stock Exchange statement that Goodwin was stepping down as CEO and that RBS was getting a bailout. It took another 4 ½ months, when the bank turned over a letter to the Treasury Committee, to learn that the subject of Goodwin’s negotiation between midnight and 3 a.m. was his own pension.

‘Not Subprime’

Goodwin last appeared in public on Feb. 10 at the Parliament hearing. Seated beneath a portrait of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he apologized for the demise of RBS. He then tried to explain how the bank was brought down by a global financial system that pumped subprime American mortgage debt around the globe.

“What we did was as an intermediary,†Goodwin said of RBS’s role in selling U.S. mortgage debt. “We packaged them and distributed them, and that business can be conducted largely without incident and, when the music stopped, it cleared.â€

George Mudie, a Labour Member of Parliament, followed up.

“Were you aware of the subprime content of these securities?†Mudie asked. “Because, if you were, you were part of the problem.â€

“No, it was not subprime in our hands,†Goodwin replied. “We were doing it as agents for other people.â€

Lost Culture

Mathewson and Burt both mourn the loss of independence at the banks they once ran. Burt looks back to one executive in particular both he and Mathewson respect: Bruce Pattullo, 71, who joined Bank of Scotland in the 1960s and led it in the l980s and early 1990s.

“Bruce Pattullo never ever criticized anyone for making a mistake, unless it was a foolish mistake,†Burt said. “Bruce would say, ‘Oh well, at least you thought about what you were doing, and you can’t get it right every time. Now how do we’ -- not how do you, but how do we -- ‘get out of this situation?’â€

Pattullo, who lives on the outskirts of Edinburgh in a house packed with travel guides and nature books, said the culture he tried to foster in Scottish banking has gone.

“I’m obviously a bit sad and also angry,†Pattullo said. “We temporarily had the stewardship of the organization in our hands. Because it had been going for 300 years, we had a chance to add a brick or maybe two to the edifice that other people had already built. Now all those things -- the culture, the conservative outlook -- have gone.â€

Scottish Setback

Mathewson and Burt, competitors for decades, joined forces in November to try to block the government-brokered takeover of HBOS by Lloyds, on the grounds that it was bad for competition in the U.K. Their proposal to keep the bank independent of Lloyds and step in as chairman and CEO was rejected by Prime Minister Brown and Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

“There’s me against my brother, unless there’s me and my brother against the world,†Burt said.

Mathewson’s political and business aspirations for Scotland lie in tatters. Before he joined RBS in 1987, he was CEO of the Scottish Development Agency, where he helped attract investment and employment to Scotland. Now the future of RBS and HBOS is in the hands of politicians and bankers in London, a 650-kilometer (400-mile) drive south of Edinburgh.

“When things are very positive economically, there tends to be a stronger pro-independence feeling in Scotland,†Mathewson said.

‘Fool’s Paradise’

The Scottish Parliament reopened in 1999 after 292 years. Salmond, the first minister, said Edinburgh’s banking industry can also rise again.

“The reputation of Scotland as a financial center is an enduring and substantial one and is bigger and stronger than the setbacks or worse at these two institutions,†he said in an interview. “RBS will survive to prosper another day. Hopefully the lessons that have been hard-learned will not be forgotten.â€

In the vaulted stone rooms of the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh, James Malcolm isn’t so sure. Malcolm, who retired as the U.K.’s ambassador to Panama in 2006, is a Scot who believes the strength of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is more important than Scottish independence.

The former ambassador recalled traveling by dugout canoe to visit the tropical coast where Scots once tried to build New Caledonia. The colony has disappeared into the jungle almost without a trace.

“We were all living in a fool’s paradise,†Malcolm said of the recent financial crash.

Dashed Dreams

Malcolm owns about 1,000 RBS shares, which would have been worth more than 6,000 pounds two years ago, before the U.S. and U.K. housing markets slumped. Their value was 380 pounds at the close of trading in London yesterday.

“It was a whole machine in the country that believed what they wanted to believe, which was that we could go on gobbling up banks around the world and become a huge financial power,†Malcolm said.

If Mathewson’s plan for RBS had been successful, the dream of Darien finally might have been realized. Darien is situated on the strip of land that links North and South America. Mathewson thought RBS might one day span both American continents through a merger with Santander.

“It was almost in the stars that we should merge some day, because we had North America and they had South America,†Mathewson said. “It would have been a global bank with a much better retail base than Citigroup ever had.â€

Now Mathewson’s financial dream has gone the way of Scotland’s ancient colonists.

‘First-Class Men’

Sitting on a sofa in his attic office as the Scottish mist drifted over the glen outside the window, he reflected on his choice of Goodwin to lead the bank.

“I was always looking to have people who are better than me,†Mathewson said, recalling a saying of his father’s: “First-class men hire first-class men; second-class men hire third-class men.â€

He declined to say any more.

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George Mudie, a Labour Member of Parliament, followed up.

“Were you aware of the subprime content of these securities?†Mudie asked. “Because, if you were, you were part of the problem.â€

“No, it was not subprime in our hands,†Goodwin replied. “We were doing it as agents for other people.â€

In the loop as fraud and deception enabler then, very much part of sub-prime. If people who have not once minute of financial tuition can raise questions about securitisation, fake ratings and how the bundling of tonnes of shit does not turn shit into gold then those involved in the chain all the way from the bottom of the top can not be blind to what they are doing.

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Guest LongBlackKilt

Undermining Scottish independence. Did somebody build the foundations for that?

Jolly nasty if they did. Because, you know, that sort of fundamentalism is really frightful.

Anyway, it reminds me of what 'Sir' Oswald Spengler said to me [when we were very, very drunk]:

"We borrowed too much

And by such, by such

Is happiness thrown away"

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