Quack, quack

BBC2’s Newsnight had an interesting item last night about the strange case of ‘Sir’ Allen Stanford, the flamboyant custodian of $8 billion of other people’s money. At one point they had a former SEC lawyer and a financial blogger on the programme. The presenter asked them both essentially the same question — why hadn’t Stanford been rumbled earlier? (That’s getting to be quite a popular question at the moment.)

The answers revealed something interesting about the role of the blogosphere. The SEC is staffed mainly by lawyers who — being lawyers — are looking for (a) infringement of US laws and (b) certainty — or at any rate cases that will stand up in court. The core of Allen’s operation was based in Antigua, which is not US territory, so it seems that the SEC’s lawyers felt obliged to turn a blind eye to the curious goings-on there.

In contrast, financial bloggers like Alex Dalmady are free to look at whatever piques their curiosity. And Mr Dalmady was most intrigued by what was going on in Stanford’s bank. And, unlike lawyers, bloggers don’t need certainty. They can follow their noses — which is exactly what Mr Dalmady did. His “Duck Tales” (in which he aired his suspicions about Stanford and now available as a pdf download) is a little masterpiece. The title comes from the old adage that “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is a duck”.

En passant: it’s always irritating to hear journalists unctuously using the ludicrous handles of ‘Sir’ and ‘Lord’. But it’s even more nauseating when they’re applied to cretins like Stanford and Jeffrey Archer. When I’m supreme ruler this practice will be abolished.