Tag Archives: Gold

Trader Jack – Neil Behrmann

This may seem like a strange blog for an Australian Photographer, however in my checkered career I did a stint in the financial world in the City of London, including running hedge funds and as business development director for the European side of a New Zealand investment bank.

City of London financial centre - Image Shane Aurousseau
City of London financial centre – Image Shane Aurousseau

I learnt one thing during my association with the City there is little interest in clients the main myopic focus is on Fees and bonuses. This is why so many scandals are coming into the public domain; it’s all about making money in the short term then getting out. The LIBOR and Forex fixing by the banks using young traders, Nick Leeson (and his famous lucky Chinese 88888 account). This is not to mention some of the big US frauds, Madoff and Petters both multi-Billion Dollar frauds. The list of investors and feeder funds into Madoff is enormous including some of the biggest names in the banking and investment world with massive due diligence departments – just shows how greed can overrule Logic and management focus.

Scandals/ frauds are certainly coming thick and fast. There has been foreign exchange, precious metals, at least two rigging scandals about Libor(previously mentioned) and  now an investigation into whether the banks rigged the liquidity auctions back at the heart of the financial crisis itself.

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the Bank of England’s crisis-era liquidity auctions  believed to relate to a £180bn funding scheme that was ended by the BoE in 2010.

In  September 2011, the Swiss bank UBS announced that it had lost over 2 billion dollars, as a result of unauthorized trading performed by Kweku Adoboli, a director of the bank’s Global Synthetic Equities Trading team in London.

On 24 September 2011, Oswald Grübel, the CEO of UBS, resigned “to assume responsibility for the recent unauthorized trading incident”, according to a memo to UBS staff.[3][4] On 5 October Francois Gouws and Yassine Bouhara, the co-heads of Global Equities at UBS, also resigned.[5] It later emerged that UBS had failed to act on a warning issued by its computer system about Adoboli’s trading.[6][7][8]

London financial centre Canary Wharf - Image Photographer Shane Aurousseau
London financial centre Canary Wharf – Image Photographer Shane Aurousseau

As I mentioned they are coming thick and fast. All this naughtiness brings me to a culture that exists in many of the major financial centres, London, New York and others. The culture that exists in the great financial centres of the world is one of of hiring young people from major universities and elsewhere and allowing these youngsters to trade unsupervised in many cases billions of dollars. Youth will gamble so youth is hired and allowed to gamble the bank’s or fund’s assets. In reality these funds are not the bank’s or fund managers funds but the investors and until recently the account holders. This culture is one where the senior management know exactly what is happening and the bet is taken on youth. It the gamble goes wrong then youth is disowned in favor of management survival. If the the Kobe earthquake had not happened Nick Leeson may have been a hero – The bank knew exactly what was going on- ‘youth gambles’ and wise men(if all goes to plan) pick-up the profits.

Remember the arrogance of the ‘Flaming Ferraris’ five young City slickers, the son of Lord Archer among them, striding from a stretch limousine to whoop it up at their exclusive Christmas bash. These were the so-called ‘Flaming Ferraris’, the world’s most successful share traders – named after their favorite rum-and-Grand Marnier cocktail. The five would, it was said, bet up to £3 billion a time on a deal, and then expected to share a £5 million bonus. Like many of these young trader’s with little real life experience and the arrogance of youth it ended in tears.

Trader Jack - Neil Behrmann - the story of a young City trader
Trader Jack – Neil Behrmann – the story of a young City trader

Neil Behrmann’s Trader Jack addresses the City financial youth culture in a great yarn told with a considerable amount of accuracy. It really is a good read and is based on a very real and dangerous City culture.

Trader Jack can be purchased via: Amazon  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Neil-Behrmann/e/B005HA9E3M:

Australian Photographer – Shane Aurousseau

A world seeking a direction

I’m not a religious man in the context of following a Church doctrine or deity, the interpretation of this does not mean that I don’t have religious thoughts. The concept of atheism is a difficult one for me to comprehend as this is a statement of absolute and is a bedfellow of fundamentalism. The following of an agnostic path is to me a much more logical direction, ‘the only thing I know is I know nothing’ Socrates. Man’s interpretation of the teachings of some of the towering figures of religious history. Mohammed, Christ, Abraham, the Hindu teacher Shankara  and even the Buddhas I believe would horrify the creators of those great religions. Much criminality and suffering has been perpetuated in the name of religion.  The quest for some form of understanding is far more important than some vague and misguided belief that one has omnipotent knowledge, however sometimes from man’s muddled and myopic thinking comes something beautiful, the music of a Latin Mass,

Alhambra Granada
Alhambra Granada
The great art of Islam Alhambra Granada Spain
The great art of Islam Alhambra Granada Spain

The Sacred Geometry of Islam, The great paintings of the world, The Last Supper – Leonardo da Vinci, The creation of Adam – Michelangelo,  Madonna del Prato or Madonna of the Meadow – Raphael, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist – Caravaggio not to mention the great temple sculptures of the East, the great fiestas of the Catholic world Semana Santa Spain. I have to admit these creations give a fabric and synergy to society that today much of the world lacks with out these creations the world would be a boring and barren place indeed. The disillusionment especially in the ranks of the youth of the world is giving rise to a self driven and violent society with an inability to see any beauty we are building  the blind society.

The creation of Adam Michelangelo
The creation of Adam Michelangelo
The beheading of John de Baptist Caravaggio
The beheading of John de Baptist Caravaggio

It was attending Holy week or Semana Santa  Malaga that confirmed to me the importance of maintaining these great festivals and protecting the great artistic legacy that religious belief of most persuasions has bestowed upon us. The realisation of the contribution that has been bequeathed to us by the great religions of the world is part of growing up and becoming an understanding member of society.

The Throne of the Mourning Virgin Image Shane Aurousseau
The Throne of the Mourning Virgin Image Shane Aurousseau

Semana Santa (Easter Week) Spain’s greatest festival and most important week of the year. A celebration of piety expressed almost exclusively in the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. Associations that have their origins in the Middle Ages, however a number were created during the Baroque Period, inspired by the Counter-Reformation ( Catholic Revival) commencing from the time of the ‘Council of Trent’ 1545 – 1563 finishing at the end of the ‘Thirty Years War’ 1648  and also during the 20th and 21st centuries. Membership of the brotherhoods is usually open to any Catholic person; family tradition is an important element to becoming a member or “brother” (hermano). The family the importance of being a part of something greater than you. The family can be seen in the important participation of Children and how they are welcomed into the festivities. The family group is an institution that we seem to be losing in most western countries to the detriment of our society.

The Nazarenos marking for penance Image Shane Aurousseau
The Nazarenos marking for penance Image Shane Aurousseau

One of the most striking spectacles of the festival are the hundreds of slow-moving Nazarenos (based on the people of Nazareth) in their tall, pointy hats and matching robes with their faces completely covered, apart from their eyes. Reasons for the use of such costumes have long been lost in antiquity however the purpose is simple , the Nazarenos their faces are covered in mourning and also as a sign of shame for the sins they have committed throughout the year. It is not uncommon for prisoners to participate as pallbearers participating in the carrying of the huge Thrones of the crucified Christ and the mourning Virgin Mary in order to repent of their sins.

160 - 280 men and sometimes women carrying the Throne
160 – 280 men and sometimes women carrying the Throne

There are 168 to 280 men and sometimes women who carry the thrones on their shoulders. Each man must be able to carry 40 Kilos on his shoulders for hours they tend to march for a longer period than women. The processions culminates on Easter Sunday in a long procession from the cathedral or church with the meeting of the effigies of the mourning Virgin and the resurrected Christ. Truly an artistic and spectacular fiesta that gives Spain its character and synergy. .

Images of the great Spanish fiesta Semana Santa

Women carrying the Mourning Virgin Mary Image Shane Aurousseau
Women carrying the Mourning Virgin Mary Image Shane Aurousseau
The Throne of the Mourning Virgin
The Throne of the Mourning Virgin

Semana Santa a family affair Image Shane Aurousseau
Semana Santa a family affair Image Shane Aurousseau
Following the Mourning Throne of the Virgin Mary image Shane Aurousseau
Following the Mourning Throne of the Virgin Mary image Shane Aurousseau
Waiting for the Bell to move off Image Shane Aurousseau
Waiting for the Bell to move off Image Shane Aurousseau

f.  .

Carrying the Throne Image Shane Aurousseau
Carrying the Throne Image Shane Aurousseau
Incense Image Shane Aurousseau
Incense Image Shane Aurousseau
A Family Affair Image Shane Aurousseau
A Family Affair Image Shane Aurousseau
Relaxing in the break image Shane Aurousseau
Relaxing in the break image Shane Aurousseau
Leading the Throne of the Mourning Virgin Mary Image Shane Aurousseau
Leading the Throne of the Mourning Virgin Mary Image Shane Aurousseau
The Nazarenos Image Shane Aurousseau
The Nazarenos Image Shane Aurousseau
The Nazarenos Image Shane Aurousseau
The Nazarenos Image Shane Aurousseau
The Throne of the Mourning Virgin Mary Malaga Image Shane Aurousseau
The Throne of the Mourning Virgin Mary Malaga Image Shane Aurousseau

Photographer Shane Aurousseau

Australia a Museum of the 1800s

Much of Australia’s development is not dissimilar to that of the United States and its growth from the coastal regions to the west or inland.Not all of Australia’s population hugs the coast rather like hanging onto a tippin mattress. Although the greater proportion of the Australian population is on the coast the Commodity wealth of the country has driven growth inland seeking the rich mining of every mental and mineral from Gold, tin, copper, bauxite, opals, Uranium, silver, iron ore, coal ;

Sheep and cattle farming booms across most states with the country hosting some of the largest sheep stations and cattle ranches in the world. Wine vineyards stretch from Western Australia to Queensland. Grains and cotton at also grown in the commodity rich outback

Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW Image Shane A
Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW Image Shane A

Australia produces 30% of the worlds wool and the merino is the finest micron level available to the market. Australia is the 7th largest beef producer in the world, producing around 4% of the world’s beef.

Opal mining Lightning Ridge NSW Image Shane A
Opal mining Lightning Ridge NSW
Image Shane A

All this rush for wealth really commenced in the 1800s. In 1851 the Australian population was only 437,655 the gold rush of 1851 changed all of this with the population growing rapidly and a decade later it was 1,151,957, today of course it is nearly 24 million people. the mining,  sheep and to an extent the beef industry was away from the coast and caused the development of outback towns and cities such as Condobolin,Dubbo, Broken Hill, Ballarat, Alice Springs and Lightning Ridge all now major centers for the commodity driven industries.

Climbing into an opal mine Lightning Ridge NSW
Climbing into an opal mine Lightning Ridge NSW
Stage Coach Cobb and Co
Stage Coach Cobb and Co

The development of these towns really dates from the 1800s a period when the United States of America was developing in a similar way. North America’s towns of the wild west were very similar to  Australia’s even down to the stagecoach connections of Cobb and Co. What developed in this period of inland growth were what Australians refer to as the ‘Veranda Towns’. Towns with large verandas circumnavigating the period commercial buildings and houses of these regional centres – designed for hot summer evenings.

Molong NSW Image Photographer  Shane Aurousseau
Molong NSW Image Photographer
Shane Aurousseau

This architecture gives Australia its unique character influencing its development from the 1800s on. So much of this development is left in- tact across the continent that the country is a ‘Museum for the 1800s and the growth of a nation..

The Lion of Waterloo Pun 1840 low roof and veranda image Shane Aurousseau
The Lion of Waterloo Pun 1840 low roof and veranda image Shane Aurousseau
Silverton NSW Municipal Council
Silverton NSW Municipal Council
Netley Station Homestead
Netley Station Homestead
Braidwood NSW Image Shane Aurousseau
Braidwood NSW Image Shane Aurousseau
Ballarat Victoria NSW
Ballarat Victoria NSW
Silverton Hospital NSW
Silverton Hospital NSW
De Bauns Hotel Silverton NSW
De Bauns Hotel
Silverton NSW
Wellington Pub Wellington NSW image Shane A
Wellington Pub Wellington NSW image Shane A

Australian Outback Towns – the Australian Photographer Shane Aurousseau

Australia Molong 'Time Warp' town
Australia Molong ‘Time Warp’ town
Australia NSW Wellington  Lion of Waterloo Pub 1840
Australia NSW Wellington Lion of Waterloo Pub 1840
Australia Clunes Victoria nr Ballarat
Australia Clunes Victoria near Ballarat
Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway
Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway

Most people know Australia by the traditional icons, Sydney harbour Bridge, Opera House, Uluru/Ayers Rock, long beaches with surfers, the Barrier Reef. There is another Australia that I grew up in travelling west inland from the east coast and northern Victoria. This region is where Australia began as people moved inland from Sydney and Melbourne in order to work and mine the land and  is where much of the current exciting development is today.

When I first left Australia it was a country of 8 to 9 million people, today it is a nation of 23 million. A country rich in commodities, gold, tin, copper, bauxite, sheep, cattle (beef and dairy) and fine wines. I found large numbers of prosperous small towns, looking like something out of the wild west with their typical awning and veranda architecture stuck in a ‘time warp’ from the 1800s to 1950s, towns with young populations. Driving into a town full of period history and finding a delicatessen selling food products from all over the world and a coffee shop promoting panini with Mediterranean vegetables and of course the inevitable Chinese restaurant. Small towns with massive Cole’s or Woolworth’s supermarkets servicing the outlying sheep stations, farms, mines and now vineyards spread out over 1000s of kilometers from South Australia across NSW and into Queensland. Towns full of young people working in the the lucrative world of physical commodities. Australia is a country of growing importance and influence in Asia, a country that has become of great importance to the development of China.

The Chinese the greatest of trading people have seen the importance of this commodity rich country and have in great numbers began to call it home. While sitting in Condobolin a small sheep and mining town inland NSW, I was asked by a cousin what we should do tonight, “do you want a Chinese” he asked. Of course three shops in town, coffee shop, supermarket and Chinese restaurant. i should add there is always a pub selling great old and new beer. Most pubs in this region have a history dating from the 1800s. The Chinese are bringing real wealth to the country and are living alongside the Australians and easily integrating. Australia is a country in transition a country that is creating a new race of people who are developing and promoting its exciting commodity wealth. Sales of Merino wool are on the increase again. Merino wool the world’s finest  wool in the past too expensive for the Chines market, however many sheep stations have lowered the micron quality and can now put this fine wool into a cost bracket that suits the Chinese market, allowing them to still brand products Merino.

Australia NSW Condobolin Merino wool
Australia NSW Condobolin Merino wool
Australia NSW Condobolin Merino Sheep
Australia NSW Condobolin Merino Sheep

There is so much life in the Australian outback its commodity wealth and its vast beauty from red ochre laced dust to the never ending cobalt blue skies. The wealth of this region is now attracting the young.  I have added a quote I found on the the front of a pub in an outback town.

Australia NSW pub poem
Australia NSW pub poem

I currently live in London for business reasons, working as a photographer, am an Australian citizen and proud to call myself an Australian.

Shane Aurousseau : http://www.kiamafoto.com