[Plura-list] HSBC: "Who cares if Miami is underwater?"

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Tue May 24 11:38:40 EDT 2022

Read today's issue online at: https://pluralistic.net/2022/05/24/moral-money/


Tomorrow (May 25), I'm giving a virtual keynote at the ABC Copyright Conference (University of Western Ontario/London):



Today's links

* HSBC: "Who cares if Miami is underwater?": Scenes from the "Moral Money Summit."

* Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.

* This day in history: 2002, 2012, 2017

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading


🕵🏿 HSBC: "Who cares if Miami is underwater?"

Before I tell you about how HSBC just announced it wants to literally render the planet Earth unfit for human habitation, I want to talk about HSBC's other crimes. Remember the LIBOR scandal? HSBC was neck-deep in it, costing the world's public coffers *trillions* through fraud?


HSBC used laundered money from the world's most corrupt people to cash out on its LIBOR rigging. Remember SwissLeaks? They paid EUR300m to settle French claims related to the laundering, and somehow escaped real consequences in the many other countries implicated in the leak:


HSBC often gets away with it. They're in the top three corporations to have received "deferred prosecution agreements" from the US DOJ, which are a kind of good-behavior-based stay of criminal charges. When HSBC fails to end its criminal conduct, it doesn't get punished - it gets another DPA.


It's hard to say why HSBC gets such favorable treatment, but perhaps it has something to do with the bank's aggressive recruiting of financial regulators - like in 2016, when US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery quit her job and went to work for HSBC:


Calvery knew what kind of company she was going to work for. HSBC was one of the robo-signing banks that operated foreclosure mills, literally stealing thousands of US homes that they had no right to foreclose on, using forged documents.


"Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen." HSBC doesn't care which kind of thief you are, they want your money. Remember when HSBC installed new, wider cashiers' windows at some of its branches so they could accept duffelbags full of Mexican drug cartel cash?


The company paid a fine equivalent to five weeks' profits for that one, and no one went to jail. Indeed, we generally get our news about HSBC from its three-panel ads showing its commitment to a kind of cuddly, multi-culti globalism.


Hard-hitting reports on HSBC are few and far between. Hard to say why, exactly, but maybe it's because the company uses its advertising budget as leverage to pressure newspapers to spike their reporters' investigative pieces on the bank?


HSBC can't stop criming. From the Panama Papers to 2020's Fincen leaks, HSBC is always center-stage, helping the world's worst people launder their gains:


The rot starts at the top. In 2015, HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver admitted that he was laundering his money through *two* tax havens - Switzerland and Panama - in order to hide his money from the tax-man, but also to prevent his underlings from learning just how much money he was making:


Given that kind of leadership, it would be pretty naive to blame bad apples in the bank for its criminal conduct. But that's just what current HSBC boss Noel Quinn asks us to do in his Linkedin post disclaiming responsibility for an HSBC conference talk called "Why investors need not worry about climate risk."


HSBC is a major fossil-fuel investor, keeping the money-spigots open for coal and gas projects. Two months ago, Stuart Kirk, global head of responsible investing for HSBC asset management, got HSBC's approval to give his climate denial talk at the FT Moral Money Summit (I'm not making this up).

Some of Kirk's remarks:

> Climate change is not a risk we need to worry about - heresy!

> I feel like it's getting a little bit out of hand, the constant reminder that we are doomed. The constant reminder that in decades it's all over. It's become so hyperbolic that no one knows how to get people's attention any more. 

> After 25 years in the finance industry there's always some nutjob telling me about the end of the world.

> But what bothers me about this one, is the amount of work these people make me do, the amount of regulation coming down the pipes, the number of people in my team and at HSBC dealing with financial risks from climate change.


Kirk said that the bank was paying too much attention to a problem that was "20 or 30 years down the line."

> I work at a bank that's being attacked by crypto. We've got regulators in the US trying to stop us. We've got the China problem. 

> We've got a housing crisis looming. We've got interest rates going up. 

> We've got inflation coming down the pipes and I'm being told to spend time… looking at something that's going to happen in 20 or 30 years. Hence, the proportionality is completely out of whack. 

> Human beings have been fantastic at adapting to change, adapting to climate emergencies, and we will continue to do so.

> Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that's a really nice place.

> I don't doubt the science but we do need to adapt.

Kirk said that climate risk was overblown. Speaking of former Bank of England governor and environmental campaigner Mark Carney, he said:

> I completely get that at the end of your central bank career there are still many, many years to fill in. You have to say something, you have to fly around the world to conferences, you have to out-hyperbole the next guy, but I feel like it is getting a little bit out of hand. 

One of his slides read: "Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong." He compared the climate emergency to Y2K panic.


HSBC co-sponsored the Moral Money Summit, and Kirk's talk title was live on its website. HSBC is under investigation in the UK for running misleading ads about its green investing.


Kirk, who once ran the FT's Lex column, has also served as HSBC's global head of "research and insights," and he has an econ degree from Cambridge. His thesis turned on the fact that the finance industry had ignored the climate, and since markets are infallible, the climate emergency must be a hoax.

Kirk's bosses, HSBC CEO Noel Quinn and head of HSBC’s wealth and personal banking Nuno Matos, have disowned Kirk's remarks and suspended him. They ask us to believe that HSBC - a criminal institution of notorious depravity and dishonestly, under investigation for greenwashing - really cares about the climate.

"The transition to net zero is of upmost (sic) importance to us and we will strive for ways to help our clients on this journey."

The finance sector can't save us from the climate emergency, because the finance sector *created* the climate emergency, bankrolling the fossil fuel companies, laundering their money, and corrupting their regulators. They are too big to fail and too big to jail, but despite their fantasies of cowering in luxury bunkers in New Zealand when the shit hits the fan, they will learn that they can't breathe underwater or survive zoonotic plagues, and they're not fireproof.

I guess the joke's on them.


🕵🏿 Hey look at this

* The Children's Guide To Séances & Cuddly Demons (Scarfolk Books, 1973) https://scarfolk.blogspot.com/2022/05/the-childrens-guide-to-seances-cuddly.html


🕵🏿 This day in history

#20yrsago How a flood of worms will inevitably destroy the internet http://www.icir.org/vern/papers/cdc-usenix-sec02/index.html

#10yrsago Makies: custom-made, 3D printed action dolls https://memex.craphound.com/2012/05/24/makies-custom-made-3d-printed-action-dolls/

#5yrsago Theresa May will send up to 5,000 soldiers to police UK public spaces https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/23/operation-temperer-theresa-may-becomes-first-pm-deploy-5000/

#5yrsago Fox retracts hoax story about Seth Rich murder https://www.foxnews.com/politics/statement-on-coverage-of-seth-rich-murder-investigation

#1yrago Podcasting "The Memex Method" https://pluralistic.net/2021/05/24/how-about-nah/#memex-method


🕵🏿 Colophon

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing:

* Some Men Rob You With a Fountain Pen, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. Friday's progress: 554 words (6742 words total)

* The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, a nonfiction book about interoperability for Verso. Friday's progress: 509 words (3235 words total)

* Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. Yesterday's progress: 508 words (92849 words total) - ON PAUSE

* A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING

* Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EXPERT REVIEW

* Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FINAL DRAFT COMPLETE

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: About Those Killswitched Ukrainian Tractors: https://craphound.com/news/2022/05/19/about-those-killswitched-ukrainian-tractors/

Upcoming appearances:

* ABC Copyright Conference keynote (University of Western Ontario/London), May 25

* OpenJSWorld (Austin), Jun 8

* UK Competition and Markets Authority Data Technology and Analytics conference (London), Jun 15-16

* A New HOPE (NYC), Jul 24

Recent appearances:

* The Sci-Fi Feedback Loop: Mapping Fiction’s Influence on Real-World Tech

* Privacy is the New Celebrity

* Revolutionizing Activism — The Power of Utopia (Center for Artistic Activism)

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1562/_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer.html.

Upcoming books:

* Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics, Beacon Press, September 2022

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