Cane the Bankers?

Bruce Krasting's picture


It's been a long time since I was last in Singapore. It was a financial powerhouse then - it's a monster today. Hong Kong and Tokyo were the big financial hubs back then, but in my experience, the best traders were always in Singapore. Beyond talent, Singapore had another element that made it a success - money - lots of it. None of that has changed. Singapore was then, and still is, rightfully proud of its reputation as a financial seat of power.


My recollection of Singapore is that it was a very orderly place. The sidewalks were crowded, but the people walked in well-organized lines. (I'm used to the chaos you might get on NYC's streets.) There was no jaywalking in Singapore. To step off the curb was a big fine, and there were police making sure there were no offenders. The streets were immaculate. Littering was not allowed. There are no gum marks on the sidewalks either. Chewing gum has been banned for 20 years. And of course, there is that "canning' thing that Singapore is famous for.


I bring this us as a background to a Reuters story that has my interest. There is a rate fixing scandal in Singapore that has been simmering for a few months, it is now blowing up.




The problems in Singapore are similar to the LIBOR fixing catastrophe in London. A few local bankers were setting the fixing rates for the settlement of FX contracts. There were communication between the banks that set the rates. There is evidence of collusion - the objective of the collusion was to make money at someone else's expense.

The contracts involved were for the currencies of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Therefore, this is a much smaller issue than the problems with LIBOR. In this case, I'm not sure that "size" is the issue. Singapore is very keen to maintain its image of a fair/legitimate capital market. The FX rate fixing is about as far from being "fair" as it could get.


I think the Monetary Authorities in Singapore are going to come down hard on this. Who knows? We might yet get to seen the canning of some bankers, it's a sure bet that some are going to jail on this one.

There are 14 banks who are involved with the rate setting. The list of names includes all of the usual suspects (when thinking of rate fixing). Reuters asked all of the banks for comment, none of them would say a word. But someone is going to look silly on this. Reuters has this very damning quote:


"Traders were talking to traders, saying: 'I need you to help me today, I need to fix low'"


I'm thinking (and laughing) about this. There have been times in the past when Singapore has caned someone for breaking the rules. Often, this resulted in criticism of the City-State in the western media. On balance, the public perception outside of the country condemns Singapore for its brutal treatment of prisoners.


But if Singapore were to arrest a few of those rate fixing bankers; cane them and send them to jail, a billion folks in the west would be quietly applauding. Go figure....


This is the sign for no gum




But what does this one ban? No mangoes?



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chindit13's picture

Ah yes, the Monarchy of Singapore.  Since independence, they were one of the first signatories to the International Law of Cronyism, whereby everyone is equal under the law, except for those who are above it.

Singapore is the land where they hang Filipina maids who mule a couple grams of heroin through the airport, but gladly do the money laundering for the Burmese druglord generals through an office run by the PM’s wife.  Another wife served as the Burmese junta’s chief arms broker.  Then of course the red carpet comes out at Changi whenever the druglords or their associates pull into the Lion City.  I'll bet they're even allowed to chew gum.

I’ll go out on a limb and say even if Singapore finds a major bank CEO ordered said rate manipulation, it’ll be the desk jockey who gets his butt whipped, while the CEO is invited for High Tea at the PM’s residence.  There must be order!

Now will Singapore ban Zerohedge because of this coment?


steve from virginia's picture




Cut the bankers' heads off on TV w/ a samurai sword.


Do it during half-time of late NFL games in the winter, during 7th inning stretch during baseball season. Put on TV: 'Execution of the Week'.


Sooner or later it's coming.

flacorps's picture

I'm thinking a top-fuel dragster engine mated to the giant semi-trailer mounted wood chipper device known as a tree maul.

davhay's picture

Does any one know what happened to Geithner discount rate leak story??????

Joebloinvestor's picture

Current bankers have done more damage then any serial murderer.

At least in the aftermath of the S&L debacle, some went to jail.

Now they act with impunity.

SokPOTUS's picture

Sign = No Cannoli.  Guess you'll have to take the hat.

Albertarocks's picture

moved... apologies.

jomama's picture

they should can them along with the Fukushima Chicken of the Sea Tuna.

ptoemmes's picture

Goona need a bigger cane.  I have some pretty good sized Louisville Sluggers - vintage but used.

anonnn's picture

Caneing? Flogging? Keelhauling? Cat o'nine-tails?

Actual definitions of these might be enlightening. Awful and aweful.


Brit_Abroad's picture

Cane the bankers

Can the bankers

Ban the bankers

Bang the bankers

Fixed it for you Hang the bankers (along with the other assorted elite riff raff)

Billions would applaud

tip e. canoe's picture

i'll take sodomy with both ends at the same time.

Rene-Paul's picture

Durian is known as the King of fruits... In asia. There are many outdoor vendors in the Singapore suburbs. You can select from many varieties and the vendor will open them for you and eat right there.  That said..... force feeding durians to the bankers might.............

The Alarmist's picture

"The sidewalks were crowded, but the people walked in well-organized lines."

Gee, when I lived there one of the biggest frustrators was getting behind groups of people (usually young girls) who walked several people abreast and slowly, especially in the underground passages on Orchard Road and in SunTec City.

What's the hurry, la?

Herkimer Jerkimer's picture





First one to make up a "Do not manipulate LIBOR" red circle/slash sign with a cool graphic wins a ZeroHedge hat!




fonzannoon's picture

Quietly applauding?

MrBoompi's picture

There are a few terms which describe the actions of a cartel.  Racketeering, fraud, and theft are a few that come to mind.  God only knows the amount of money these people have stolen from savers and investors.

Rastadamus's picture

I'd say put a neclace of C-4 explosive around their necks and then they'll bailout all right.

alfred b.'s picture


    Good stuff:  I'm long canes...and btw, long guillotines too!



Conax's picture

Caning is minor negative feedback applied mostly to juveniles. It is much too good for the bankers.  Tar and feathering is the American Way to deal with political miscreants and swindlers. 

Boiling tar and feathers, bitchezz.

The Alarmist's picture

How about some good, olde English justice?  How about hanging, drawing & quartering a few of them?

gratefultraveller's picture

Lately I have thought frequently of the old southern use to "tar & feather" fraudsters, thinking to myself that it would make for an excellent deterrent, together with stripping of illegitimately acquired wealth and life-long banning to public office.

it doesn't damage the subject too badly (the tar will liquefy at an acceptably low temperature) or kill it, and the "shame effect" would be huge

I am sure it would also satisfy the desire for justice of a lot of people, taking quite a bit of the growing repressed anger out of the equation

HoofHearted's picture

I think we should cane Ben Bernanke. Put it on pay-per-view. Haul in Bareny Frank and Chris Dodd too. Hell, put George the 43rd and BO on the same show. People would pay $100 to see each of them get a swat with the cane. Make it 5 different wshows, one for every night of the week. I'd buy tickets, even give a couple ounces of silver to watch it. A couple ounes of gold if I can be the one with the cane. We could retire the US debt.

ramacers's picture

why just cane? what are firing squads for? the ceausescus found out.

Lordflin's picture

Why waste bullets... An iron rod would do fine.

steelhead23's picture

Bruce, I would dearly hope that Singapore recognizes the opportunity here.  Virtually everyone I know would love to cane a banker - personally.  So, how about a banker caning lottery?  I know I would buy a fistful of tickets - and work on my swing.

williambanzai7's picture

Don't hold your breath waiting. They have made a strategy of enticing fast and loose off-shore finance, hedge funds and sovereign billionares.

mightycluck's picture

Or cane the government, Government mortgage giants just decided to let underwater borrowers write down their principal. Who pays? The taxpayer.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac use Get Out of Jail Free card for underwater borrowers.

MORE US government intrustion.

Cast Iron Skillet's picture

not quietly applauding - loudly cheering!

rlouis's picture

Appaulding the caning of a few select (insignificant) scape goats in Singapore would be wholly superficial and therefore dissatisfying.   Caning a few 'alpha' crooks in Amerika, on the other hand,  I could get behind that.

otto skorzeny's picture

call me when they put up "Juden Verboten" signs

IamtheREALmario's picture

In Singapore, just as in the US, all you would have to do is severely punish a couple of VERY high level bankers. Putting Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein behind bars for the rest of their life would send aserious message. The banks do not have to be killed, only the corporate veil has to be removed and CEOs (and COOs and CFOs) become personally responsible for the the actions of their subordinates.

End of problem. Caning is just for entertainment.

NotApplicable's picture

Well, I won't hold my breath until you manage to do it (as it's never happening otherwise).

You seem to be forgetting that justice is their property, not yours.

digitlman's picture

I seem to recall in watching an episode of Chopped (a Food Network guilty pleasure) they had the durian fruit in their basket, and they remarked on how much it smelled.  Badly.  And how it was outlawed in some places.



SmoothCoolSmoke's picture

Singapore sounds like a nice place to live if you like Police States.

whotookmyalias's picture

People I know from Malaysia refer to Singapore as a "fine" country. Then they laugh. I took pictures of litter my first time there.

williambanzai7's picture

If you are a foreignor with money it is Fantasy Island, albeit a tiresome one.

Lost My Shorts's picture

Singapore is expensive and boring.  It's like Paris, if you removed all the charm, culture, and beauty and just left the high prices.

williambanzai7's picture

On the other hand, it's clean as a whistle, it's 1 hour to Phuket and its loaded with SE Asian hotties in short shorts.

If you are wondering what goes on, check out No Money No Honey.

Tango in the Blight's picture

I bet if you do have $$$ Honey willl take all your Money.

hoos bin pharteen's picture

My favorite Sinapore signs are the friendly reminders they put outside their military facilities.



Milestones's picture

You perfectly summed up Singapore--and Paris.        Milestones

Nage42's picture

Considerably more dog-shit on the streets of Paris.


Complain all you like... ~10-15% effective total income tax rate and zero capital gains goes a LONG way for putting up with shit.


If you are not an expat and you do not understand tax regeim then your world is pretty small indeed.  Not that I'd give Dubai a twirl at 0%/0% income/capital tax, not too comfortable with the whole house of cards there.

The Alarmist's picture

Police state perhaps, but on any given day in NYC ... or even in flyover country ... I saw more police than I would in a month in Singapore.

Walt D.'s picture

You forgot to remove high taxes! :-(

williambanzai7's picture

That's not a mango. It's a durian and if you ever smelled one you would know why. A durian in the luggage hold once forced a Quantas flight into an emergency landing. There is only one outdoor durian restaurant in Singapore that I know of. It's run out of a van in a large parking lot in a wooded area.

The reason the dodgy traders all went to Singpaore is because Singapore created a durian regulatory environment designed to entice them.

This can only mean one thing. The same thing happens everywhere.

Cosimo de Medici's picture

Other countries do the durian silhouette better, so that one confused me at first.  I thought it might have been, "Don't hide your back massager inside a hollowed out jackfruit".  Guess I was wrong.

FrankDrakman's picture

On a trip to Bangkok, my ex-wife (who's Chinese) bought a durian at the market. She ate about half there, and put the rest in a bag.

Then we went to the famous J. Thompson silk shop. As she was looking at various ties and other things, I noticed other people would wander over near her, stand there for a few seconds, look vaguely dismayed, and quickly move away. I was (silently) dying from laughter as this scene repeated over and over; my ex was completely oblivious to it.