Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Think your Australian bank deposits are guaranteed? Think again!

On the global scale, there's quite a consensus that the banks own your money.
But that couldn't be the case in Australia, or could it?

Forwarding …
Citizens Electoral Council of Australia   
Media Release Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary
PO Box 376‚ COBURG‚ VIC 3058
Phone: 1800 636 432
Email: cec@cecaust.com.au
Website: http://www.cecaust.com.au

APRA update:

Think your bank deposits are guaranteed? Think again!

A former principal researcher at bank regulator APRA has revealed in a submission to a Senate inquiry that, contrary to government reassurances, Australian bank deposits are not guaranteed.

This explosive revelation shreds the government’s repeated assurances that its new bill to give crisis resolution powers to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) will not allow the “bail-in” (confiscation) of bank deposits, because they are guaranteed up to $250,000 by the Financial Claims Scheme (FCS).

In the cover letter to his submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Crisis Resolution Powers and Other Measures) Bill 2017, Dr Wilson Sy asks Committee chair Senator Jane Hume: “As a matter of urgency, I need to ask: are you prepared to have your savings in bank deposits confiscated to save insolvent banks? What about the millions of voters you represent? How would they react if you allow this to happen to them?”

Dr Sy charges that the bill “gives the Government and APRA new discretionary powers to confiscate bank deposits”, and that it should be rejected.

(Dr Sy’s submission, “Protect Deposits Not the Fraudulent System”, is the first submission posted on the Senate inquiry’s website, and can be accessed here.)

As a Principal Researcher at APRA in 2004-10, during which time he was briefly acting Head of Research for a time, Dr Sy is one of the most qualified people to comment on APRA and the powers it will be given by this bill. Both the 2008 global financial crisis and introduction of the Financial Claims Scheme occurred while he was at APRA.

FCS guarantee not activated

The essential point that Dr Sy makes is that the FCS is not an absolute guarantee. He quotes the FCS website, which makes clear that the FCS will only take effect if the government activates it when an ADI (Authorised Deposit-taking Institution—a bank, credit union, building society etc.) fails. “That is, when a bank fails, i.e. becomes insolvent, the Australian Government or APRA then has the discretion to decide whether or not to activate the FCS”, he says. “Hence, it should be emphasised that:

Bank deposits are not protected or guaranteed at all.

Under the Banking Act 1959, Dr Sy explains, APRA is responsible for two potentially conflicting objectives: the protection of depositors AND the promotion of financial stability. This depositor protection is “illusory”, he asserts, because the Banking Act doesn’t state which objective has priority.

Under the new bill, however, APRA will have the discretionary power to decide which objective has priority; alarmingly, it will be able to make such a decision “in secrecy”. Dr Sy references Subdivision D, Section 11CH (p.24) of the bill, which states that APRA may decide that its orders must be kept secret if it is “necessary to protect the depositors of any ADI OR to promote financial system stability”. (Emphasis added by Sy.) The replacement of “AND” with “OR” confirms that the objectives are in potential conflict. “Therefore”, Dr Sy continued, “it is important to recognise that the Bill allows APRA discretionary powers to decide secretly whether to protect depositors or to promote financial system stability.”

Quoting a 2012 Reserve Bank of Australia paper, which stated that the priority of regulators, mandated under Commonwealth legislation, is to “pursue financial stability”, Dr Sy concludes:

“Therefore, the evidence collected here strongly suggests that the Bill is designed to confiscate bank deposits to ‘bail in’ insolvent banks to save the financial system.”

Can’t be funded

Dr Sy’s revelation is further, damning evidence that the FCS is not a real guarantee. The Citizens Electoral Council had already exposed in 2014 that, by the regulators’ own admission, the FCS doesn’t have the money to guarantee deposits in any of the Big Four banks, which hold 80 per cent of all deposits! This was first acknowledged in a 19 June 2009 meeting of Australia’s Council of Financial Regulators, comprising APRA, ASIC and the Reserve Bank, which noted in its minutes that a failure of one of the Big Four banks would “exceed the scheme’s resources”. Later, the Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland, which is in charge of imposing a bail-in regime worldwide, noted in its 21 September 2011 “Peer Review of Australia” that the government’s $20 billion provision per bank “would not be sufficient to cover the protected deposits of any of the four major banks”, which each have more than $400 billion in deposits. The CEC presented this evidence in its submission to the Senate committee inquiry.

Defeat the APRA bill

Most members of parliament are assuring their constituents that the APRA bill—which virtually none would have read—does not mean deposits will be able to be bailed in, because deposits are guaranteed under the FCS. Dr Sy’s revelation explodes that myth. This is not an academic question. With all signs pointing to a near-term collapse of the so-called “everything bubble” comprising property markets in Australia and elsewhere, the US stock market, Bitcoin, and the US$1.2 quadrillion global derivatives trade, a looming global financial crisis threatens Australia’s banking system. It is urgent, therefore, that Australians demand their MPs reject this bill outright, and go with the Glass-Steagall banking regulation instead, which guarantees deposits and financial stability by separating commercial banks with deposits from all forms of financial speculation. As Dr Sy says in his submission: “The global financial system needs fundamental structural reform which many countries believe is the restoration of the Glass-Steagall legislation which had worked well for many decades until it was corruptly or mistakenly repealed at the turn of this century.”

What you can do

Before Christmas, upwards of 800 everyday Australians flooded the Senate committee inquiry with submissions opposing the APRA bill and demanding Glass-Steagall. The Committee is expected to hold hearings in either late January or early February, by which time it is imperative that every MP and Senator is confronted with the truth about this bill.

1. Forward this release, the CEC’s submission (download here) and Dr Sy’s submission (download here) to your local federal MP and Senators before the end of the month. If possible, print copies and deliver them in person.

2. Sign and share the CEC’s latest petition: “Global crash coming—Australia needs Glass-Steagall and a National Bank”.

Click here for a free copy of the latest issue of the CEC’s weekly magazine the Australian Alert Service, which reports on the fight against bail-in and for Glass-Steagall.

Click here to join the CEC as a member.

Click here to refer others to receive regular email updates from the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia.

Follow the CEC on Facebook Follow @cecaustralia on Twitter Follow the CEC on Google+

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Australia really needs Glass-Steagall banking separation to protect us from any financial meltdown

Below is the latest news release from the Australian political party, the CEC (Citizens Electoral Council). which points out in no uncertain terms why a form of Glass-Steagall banking legislation is badly needed here Down Under.


Citizens Electoral Council of Australia
Media Release Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary
PO Box 376‚ COBURG‚ VIC 3058
Email: cec@cecaust.com.au
Website: http://www.cecaust.com.au

Glass-Steagall unites unions, community groups against financial looting

Trade unions and social advocacy groups in Australia and the UK should look to their US counterparts, who are uniting behind the campaign to restore the Glass-Steagall separation of banking from financial speculation. Australia, the UK and USA and other neoliberal economies are on the verge of another banking crash, with any number of likely triggers, including the inevitable collapse of Australia’s housing bubble, or a chain-reaction meltdown of the so-called “everything bubble”—corporate debt, consumer debt, derivatives, etc. Under their present policies, governments will resort to massive bailouts (and bail-ins) of the banks that will be the driver for more brutal budget austerity imposed on the poor, sick, elderly and workers. From the experience of the 2008 crash and its ongoing aftermath, there is growing recognition that Glass-Steagall, the US law that from 1933 until its repeal in 1999 kept speculators out of everyday banking that served the community, is the first step necessary to rein in the predatory financial system and make the economy work for everybody. US trade unions and community groups are mobilising a coalition of forces to pressure the US Congress to enact a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.

On 27 September the USA’s peak union body, the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), hosted at its Washington DC headquarters an on-line “Webinar and Panel Discussion on Glass-Steagall Mobilisation”.

Click here to watch the 50-minute webinar.

The panel of speakers included: Marcus Stanley, Policy Director for Americans for Financial Reform, a leading progressive think tank coalition of more than 200 organisations including consumer, labour, business, and other groups; Nomi Prins, former Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, Managing Director of Bear Stearns, Financial analyst for Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan banks, who is now a well-known author of seven books on the banking crisis, including All the Presidents’ Bankers and It Takes a Pillage; Bart Naylor, Public Policy Advocate for Public Citizen, an organisation in support of Glass-Steagall legislation that has over 400,000 members; Heather Slavkin Corzo, Director of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment and formerly the Chair of the Americans for Financial Reform Task Force on Derivatives, during and after the 2008 crisis; and Mayo Makinde, small business owner, community activist and Democratic candidate for Ohio Senate, who has lobbied Congress for the Glass-Steagall bill now being sponsored by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and US Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The AFL-CIO’s Corzo explained that the US trade union movement is demanding Glass-Steagall because of the ongoing economic destruction caused by the financial crisis. Her stark description of the crisis should ring alarm bells for everyone in Australia, which is poised for the same disaster. For instance, Corzo emphasised that millions of Americans lost their homes when the US housing bubble burst—a bubble proportionally smaller than Australia’s housing bubble today. Another harbinger for Australians is that trillions of dollars of US workers’ retirement savings—the equivalent of superannuation—was also lost in the crash. She debunked the claim that economic conditions have improved and pointed out that banks are not functioning as engines of economic growth by lending to small and medium enterprises that create jobs for regular Americans, but are speculating instead, which is only generating wealth for the top 1 per cent that the rest of the country isn’t sharing. This parallels the way Australia’s banks are starving small businesses and farmers of credit in order to load up on mortgage loans. “The other huge reason the AFL-CIO supports the reinstitution of the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act is that we want to see a return to prudent banking, where banking is a vehicle for investment in the real economy as opposed to investment in speculative bubbles and bursts,” Corzo said.

A number of unions in the UK have expressed strong support for Glass-Steagall, as have many MPs from all parties, and the UK Labour Party’s election manifesto called for a firm separation of commercial banking and investment banking. This support is passive, however, and there is not an equivalent grass-roots mobilisation to ensure it becomes law.

For Australia’s labour movement, the AFL-CIO’s leading role in this Glass-Steagall mobilisation should give them pause. Why is Glass-Steagall a major union issue in the USA (and UK), but not Australia? And why did the Australian Labor Party under former union boss Bill Shorten oppose Glass-Steagall, or even a banking inquiry, until it was fishing for extra votes in the 2016 election? The difference is the US and UK trade unions have experienced a financial crash, and know the survival of workers depends upon ending the unbridled speculation that has looted the real economy, and that begins with Glass-Steagall. Australia’s labour movement is in denial.

For too long Australia’s unions have been complicit in the “financialisation” of the economy—the shift from productive industries to financial services—which has enabled financial speculators to dominate and loot the economy. The unions’ own Labor Party privatised the Commonwealth Bank, deregulated the private banks, and replaced a fair aged pension with the compulsory superannuation system, which has forced all Australian workers to ride the stock market rollercoaster, and enables predatory banks like Macquarie—in cahoots with union-controlled industry superannuation funds—to buy privatised assets and gamble with workers’ retirement savings. Since this process began in 1983 under Labor’s Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, manufacturing and agriculture’s share of GDP has plunged, and financial services has become the biggest sector of the economy. Hawke and Keating took their “reforms” from the same neoliberal Mont Pelerin Society blueprint that Margaret Thatcher used in the UK; in turn, Australian Labor’s “success” was used to justify Tony Blair’s continuation of Thatcherism as UK Labour policy—now ended by Jeremy Corbyn.

Australian workers have never been more exposed to a financial crash than they are today. They are losing their full-time jobs in productive industries like car manufacturing, forced to borrow huge money to buy unaffordable houses which leaves them dreading the slightest rise in interest rates, and their superannuation is locked up in the financial casino, much of it invested in the banks. Household debt is soaring in Australia and the UK.

It is time for unions and community groups in Australia and the UK to join forces with their counterparts in the USA and not just support, but mobilise their memberships to fight for, a Glass-Steagall banking separation that can end this era of financial speculation and looting.

Click here for a free copy of the Citizens Electoral Council’s pamphlet, Glass-Steagall Now!

Click here to join the CEC as a member.

Click here to refer others to receive regular email updates from the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia.

Follow the CEC on Facebook Follow @cecaustralia on Twitter Follow the CEC on Google+

We hope you found this message useful. As a registered political party‚ the CEC receives email addresses from various sources‚ which it does not pass on to any other organisation.
Authorised: Robert Barwick‚ 595 Sydney Rd‚ Coburg‚ Vic 3058

Monday, September 18, 2017

The wisdom of the old?

Lying around, pondering the problems of the world, I realized that at my age I don't really give a damn anymore.

If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal -- but not now that he uses a bike.

A whale swims all day, only eats fish, and drinks water, but is still fat.

A rabbit runs, and hops, and only lives 15 years, while a tortoise doesn't run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150 years. Yet they tell us to exercise? I don't think so!
from young to old
Now that I'm older here's what I've discovered:

1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.
2. My wild oats are mostly enjoyed with prunes and all-bran.
3. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
4. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
5. If all is not lost, then where the heck is it?
6. It was a whole lot easier to get older, than it was to get wiser.
7. Some days, you're the top dog, some days you're the hydrant.
8. I wish the buck really did stop here; I sure could use a few of them.
9. Kids in the back seat cause accidents.
10. Accidents in the back seat cause kids.
11. It is hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.
12. The world only beats a path to your door when you're in the bathroom.
13. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he'd have put them on my knees.
14. When I'm finally holding all the right cards, everyone wants to play chess.
15. It is not hard to meet expenses . . . They're everywhere.
16. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth..
17. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter . . . I go somewhere to get something, and then wonder what I'm "here after".
18. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
19. It is a lot better to be seen than viewed.
20. Have I sent this message to you before...or did I get it from you ?
Old man sign

Windows system restore point files can consume HUGE amounts of disk space

Beware, this might well happen to you on a Windows system!

Refer to the following Microsoft Community user query:
Windows 7: System Volume Information has many large files ...


Today I just noticed on my Windows 10 Pro system that my 250 GB Samsung SSD was unexpectedly running out of space. I assiduously do a disk cleanup every few months, but today I discovered only about 12 GB was left when I would normally expect around 70 GB of free space.

A little analysis showed a similar situation to the screenshot above, there were more than 80 GB of system restore files.

I suspect that the System Restore settings might have been changed during a recent Windows update. I have no proof of this, but I certainly didn't myself make any change to the settings.

All that I had to do to make lots more space available was:

  1. Open the System Protection tab of Disk Cleanup and click the System Restore button.
  2. Move the Max Usage slider slider across to the left as far as I felt satisfied with. (I chose 30 GB, for no special reason, just an estimate that this would be sufficient to store the latest four or five restore point files.)
  3. Click the Apply button.


Note that I did not have to reboot Windows 10 or do anything else. The space was immediately freed up, and now there’s 90 GB available on the C: drive.

Monday, September 04, 2017

A shocking example (of lightning during a dry thunderstorm)


Dry thunderstorm lightning causes the majority of forest fires.

It seems this video was from a fixed camera, as a human operator may not have survived this strike. Watch (at 7 seconds, of 56) how the lightning first strikes the river bank, then into the river and downstream with much turbulence.

Glad I wasn't swimming or fishing or boating there!

(Sorry, I’m not clear about the attribution of this video.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Optus Fetch TV set top box flagged by Bitdefender as having two HIGH-RISK vulnerabilities

Today I discovered the free Bitdefender Home Scanner security product, installed it and ran a security scan for my home network.

My impression is that everybody should use this very nice free security monitor from Bitdefender. You’d be silly/careless not to!

The scanner reported the device named "HyBroad Vision (Hong Kong) Technology Co Ltd" has two high-risk vulnerabilities:

  • Denial of Service (DoS) .... HIGH
  • Arbitrary code execution .... HIGH

See screenshots (1) and (2) below:




I was puzzled by the device reported as  “HyBroad Vision (Hong Kong) Technology Co Ltd” and wondered what it could be.

A quick Web search informed me that this network device in fact it is the Optus Fetch TV set top box -- which is installed with no special configuration settings -- all the Optus default. (For overseas readers of this blog, Optus is one the main telcos in Australia.)

Does anybody know how these two high-risk vulnerabilities can be eliminated for this device?

What Fetch TV STB configuration options are there to accomplish this?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Microsoft Expression Web–Version 4.0.1460.0 free (sunset edition)

I rather like the easy-to-use and familiar user interface of Microsoft’s various editing apps. Microsoft Word. for example, the most widely used document editor, the one that all others have to measure up to (and some do that very well).

Microsoft Visual Studio is another favorite of mine, right up to and including the latest VS2017 edition,  most certainly a top-class IDE.

Then creating and submitting blog posts there was until recently the free Microsoft Windows Live Writer (WLW), where you create your posts via an offline editor rather similar to a simplified version of Word. I grew to love WLW as an easy and efficient tool for blogging. It has interfaces with WordPress, Blogger and other blogging services, but was deprecated by Microsoft in 2015 or 2016. Luckily, out of its ashes appeared an open-source version called  as Open Live Writer, also free and with all the functionality of WLW.

But what about an offline editor for creating and maintaining web pages. There are quite a few free and commercial products available, and I have a number of them installed. They each have their pros and cons, and I pick the one that’s best for a particular job.

The web page editor that I use most is Microsoft Expression Web, a commercial (paid-for) product. I started in the late 1990s with Expression Web 2, upgraded to version 3, and then to the final version Expression Web 4.

I find Expression Web that it’s very easy to use, again with a familiar interface to that of Word, with a particularly good WYSIWYG capability that suits my need for creating and maintaining my website.


Admittedly my site is fairly vanilla, without many of the advanced “bells and whistles” that are all the vogue on many websites. (If I want any advanced or more recent features I use one of my other web editors to code these, then usually switch back to Expression Web to continue with simpler HTML and CSS coding.)

Microsoft deprecated Expression Web (and its companion Expression Design) in December 2012 and made them available as free products. Of course they will no longer be updated, but they are still quite decent, powerful web creation tools.

Give it a fling, you’ve nothing to lose!

You can download Expression Web 4 (free version) from the following Microsoft location:
       Expression Web version 4.0.1460.0

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Interactive health visualizations

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has some fascinating interactive data visualizations on its website.

You can select a chart type (such as USA health map, tobacco visualization, Life Expectancy & Probability of Death) and adjust a wide range of parameters -- such as country, age or gender – and see a visualization for that group of selection criteria.

For example, below is a life expectancy chart for both sexes combined, where those countries shown in lighter colors (red, orange, yellow) have the lowest life expectancies:



Here’s another one, showing life expectancies in the USA since 1981:

I commend that you check out the visualizations.

Friday, April 21, 2017

TIP - How to navigate quickly through Scientific American archives

For subscribers to Scientific American, see How to navigate quickly through Scientific American archives or read below.Scientific American transition in 1921 from weekly to monthly issues.

Subscribers to Scientific American are given access to every issue, in PDF format, right back to the magazine's launch in 1845. Wow!

It can be quite a laborious, hit and miss process to navigate back through all those issues, particularly for the earlier years (prior to November 1921) where there are about fifty issues per year.

Originally there was an issue per week, then in November 1921 came a transition to an issue per month.

The website provides only a very primitive way to navigate through those hundreds and hundreds of archived issues.

Simplistic navigation provided for Scientici American archives.As shown on the left, you can select the nearest fifty years by clicking on a radio button drop-down list, and that's the closest you can get to a desired issue.

As a consequence of this simplistic navigation design, I found myself doing lots and lots of laboriously  slow paging in order to arrive at any given issue.

After a while I cottoned on to a much quicker way to go directly.to any particular year's list of issues.

At the end of each page's URL is the four-digit value of the archived year currently being viewed, such as:

UPDATE (10 September 2017)
They seem to have changed things. Now the URL is simpler, so to jump to 1881 you use:

So there you are. Merely by altering this value to some other year you can go directly to that year's archives (the December issues are displayed first):

Scientific American archives URL wit year highlighted

Quick Navigation within a Particular Year

When you open an archive page for a particular year will find that the Scientific American issues for that year are displayed in descending chronological sequence. There are five pages per year, with twelve issues per page (except for January).

The first page displayed shows the issues for December and November, beginning with the final issue for the year (the closing week of December). There are up to four issues per row, fewer when the browser window is made narrower.


You can save time and effort and jump to a given month by replacing the page= paramter in the URL (green balloon) as indicated in the above screenshot.