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Page last updated
February 15, 2003

ISSN No:1470-5494 All rights reserved. No part or portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the express, prior and written permission of the publisher. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the publisher accepts no responsibility for any person acting as a result of the content herein.



A licence to live

James Bond in Ian Flemings book's had a "licence to kill". Pretty far fetched stuff, are there really special agents who have such a licence? Probably not but on the other hand...

Depending on which country one is domiciled in when you reach the age of 16-17 or 18 years you apply for a licence to drive. Ultimately you take a test and are issued with a driving licence. This licence stays with you throughout your adult life or until your age or senses are judged to be a disability and you are required to retake the test or the licence is revoked permanently.

In the United Kingdom you may ride a horse on the highways, you are not required to take any test nor are you required to hold a license. A horse is deemed to have "its own sense of awareness". Even though you may be banned from driving a motor vehicle you may still ride a horse and although several attempts have been made by those that uphold "law' you cannot be charged with drunken driving on horseback.

No insurance is necessary for a horse or a bicycle on the highway and both have "right of way" over any motor vehicle, which is not right as any accident to a person or property involving a horse or bicycle is claimed upon the motor vehicle involved. Of course you can take the individual "in charge" of the said means of transport to court but this is both time consuming, costly and the end does not justify the means.

Recently in the United Kingdom laws have been introduced for cyclists who are required to have a bell, must not ride on the pavement or sidewalk etc. For the first time in the history of the UK a fixed penalty fine of GBP 20.00 can be issued by a policeman (this is likely to be ignored). In the US there have been both laws and penalties for any road user which reminds me of an anecdote;

One Christmas morning a cop on horseback is sitting at a traffic light, and next to him is a kid on his shiny new bike. The cop says to the kid, "Nice bike you got there. Did Santa bring that to you?" The kid says "Yeah." The cop says, "Well next year, tell Santa to put a tail-light on that bike." The cop then proceeds to issue the kid a $20.00 bicycle safety violation ticket.

The kid takes the ticket and before he rides off says, "By the way that's a nice horse you got there. Did Santa bring that to you?" Humouring the kid the cop says, "Yeah, he sure did." The kid says, "Well next year tell Santa to put the dick underneath the horse, instead of on top."

When travelling on a bus or subway have you noticed that most youngsters have all started to use the rucksack style bags? They seem to forget they are there and turn around almost knocking out seated passengers and seemingly are oblivious to any damage they may be doing. This is pure ignorance and cannot be confused with the working lady who carries her two overloaded shopping bags and purposely uses these as a barricade to obtain a seat or a means of awareness to any young man seated that she requires a seat. The businessman with the overladen briefcase is another contender who uses the bag to make a corridor when in a hurry and sometimes even apologises when challenged. The holidaymaker journeying to and from home by public transport, another offender, blocks aisles on trains when there are adequate luggage racks and seems oblivious to the fact his or her suitcase is taking up a badly needed seat on a crowded bus or train.

Some hardworking office employees like a drink at the end of a busy day and adjourn to their favourite hostelries to unwind before the journey home. They become a regular customer of the pub or bar they use and are known by the owner or landlord by their Christian name. All is well until the end of the first week in December when he or she find that they cannot even enter the bar for hoards of part time drinkers celebrating the festive season and suddenly, even if they make it to the bar, the usual friendly greeting is forgotten along with any pleasantries on the part of the barman/woman. All returns to normal on the first working day in January of the following year.

Mobile telephone users must be the most obnoxious nuisance. Whether it be a grandmother or city gent everyone is forced to hear a banal conversation, or several on the latest, smallest shiny new cellphone, even on the shortest Journey. Also two or three "musical" chantings, whizzings or ringings occur on every journey which are sure to make even the most placid of folk seethe. In addition we now have the hanging microphone attached to the mobile cellphone and although it looks as though the person using it is both deaf and psychotic they are in fact speaking to another idiot somewhere on the planet and at the same time walking straight into lampposts. Although it is illegal how many times do you see the driver of a motor vehicle chattering away on a handset oblivious to both pedestrians and other road users.. The next innovation will perhaps be the mobile cellphone for the organ donor, OOP's! sorry I mean the motorcyclist who will be able to speak whilst doing a wheelie at 70 m.p.h. and zigzagging through the traffic informing his other half he will be late for tea.

I feel it is time for a "licence to live" which could cover all eventualities; carrying a bag, drinking, mobile phone usage etc. Perhaps coupled with endorsements and fines and the revoking of usage it may make people think and act with consideration to the more normal persons around. Perhaps regular drinkers could be issued with a full license whereas the part-timers a provisional licence and would only be able to imbibe whilst under the control of a full licence holder. The bartender would then be forced to examine full licences, taking endorsements into account and acknowledgeing those from whom he derives his income for 11 months of the year.

...What has all this to do with a financial magazine you might ask? Yet again in London another futures trader has left his company after making a loss on unauthorised trading. We are informed that his back office discovered the discrepancy and positions covered before the loss became disproportional to the capital sum of the trade. When do we get a matching or netting system that works on a deal by deal basis on a live market at risk basis. All of the current systems, of which there are many, seemingly offer the impossible but it still takes hours and hours before any discrepancy is discovered and too late to reprimand the trader who has resigned without saying a word.

Any trader has a choice of taking examinations set by the SFA, FII, ACI etc. depending upon the market he works in. Whilst recommended it is not essential for traders to have sat the examinations (especially foreign exchange and futures) and any fool, as long as he has enough money, can trade through a recognised institution and go bankrupt leaving the institution to pick up the tab.

It is possible for a rogue trader (apologies to Mr Leeson) to get away with large indiscretions. Many banks just dismiss the offender without reporting either the loss or irregularity for fear of bad publicity or inspection. How many of those traders actually caught have appeared under another name, or with another reference, or in another centre or a developing market? What is it that makes the trader ignore set rules and regulations?

Greed is one factor, or the megga bonus structures to rephrase greed. By taking a chance the rogue might make enough for the financial institution and thus benefit by bonus to set him up for life. Perhaps the rewards do not justify the means? How many traders have discovered the secret of their employers poor accounting practises and can seemingly make gigantic profits, of course collecting the bonus, from actual losses which appear long after they have left the institution. Is it not time to accept one overall accounting and trading system? (they do exist) which will not allow the trader any room for manoeuvre and reports positions (profit, loss or excess) immediately. In this age of high technology it seems laughable that the old hand-written records were more effective than today's methods, granted for a smaller number of traders.

There are also those deemed to be responsible for traders who have little or no knowledge of the markets they are directly overseeing. There is still too much of the old pals act, brown nosing or grace and favour. One factor every chief seems to ignore is that if he worked with the trader the best regulating factors are his eyes and ears. These do not work from a separate office and "bottom drawing" will continue as long as the chiefs remain in their "ivory towers".

We must have one International Authority responsible for licensing traders world wide, who have real teeth and can permanently excommunicate, defrock and punish any offender no matter how small. We must have one set of examinations covering both general and specific dealings and most importantly for those responsible for overseeing dealing rooms, dealing areas or individual dealers an annual examination with renewable licences. Get rid of the greed factor and limit the bonus!

Roger Black



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