Because the free market works best when the competition’s been gobbled up

Wait, what? So ING Australia is now part of ANZ?

BankWest was taken over by the Commonwealth Bank.

St George Bank and Bank of Melbourne have been taken over by Westpac.

I’m sure this consolidation and removal of competition won’t hurt Australian consumers in any way, though.

PS Somebody generously gave me a small packet of St George Bank shares once, that are now Westpac shares. Which means they sent me an annual report and voting details for the AGM today. Which I’m filling in by voting against everything the Board supports. Offensively self-interested remuneration? Endorsement of what we’ve done over the last year? Our continued parasitical existence? NO. NO. NO.

I know that individual shareholders have no real power – it’s the institutional investors who control what happens, and they’re run by other self-interested executives who benefit from an inflated executive remuneration market – but I can at least register my disgust. And it was very satisfying.

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8 responses to “Because the free market works best when the competition’s been gobbled up

  1. jordanrastrick

    A minor fact checking quibble: ING Australia isn’t even in the banking sector.

    Still, I suppose you’re to be congratulated. Your disgust sure marks you as a free thinking champion of measured anti-capitalist critique, unlike all those sheeple who love the banks.

    I don’t suppose you have a savings account, by the way? It wouldn’t by any chance be with one of the big four?

    And you definitely wouldn’t have a credit card or any other loan from them, of course.

    Or are you content to take a share in the despicable profits of the rapacious oligopolists through your holding of Westpac stock (sounds a little like Bob Brown owning oil company shares, because you know, he got them as a present), invest your cash in another such institution despite the myriad of alternatives, borrow from them if needs be, but express your anger by a protest AGM vote and demands that politicans step in and for the love of god do something, why won’t somebody think of the children??, etc.

    You will excuse me if my snarkiness is excessive, but increasingly I find any rational objections to the never-ending recent flood of anti-bank populism falls on deaf ears, so making fun of it is the next best thing.

  2. ING Australia isn’t even in the banking sector.

    How is it, then, that I’m currently applying for a mortgage with them?

  3. ING is part of the Inter-alpha Group, who also run the 4 major banks but hide their control through nominee companies

  4. jordanrastrick

    I don’t know, mondo, and if I were you I’d be slightly concerned to be taking a homeloan with a superannuation company. Especially given they don’t even go under the name of ING Australia anymore, having re-branded themselves OnePath.

    Perhaps you’re in fact referring to ING Direct, who are a bank (indeed, I have an account with them), and since the ANZ acquisition of OnePath/ING Australia have absolutely zero relationship to the other company besides their historical common ownership?

    Now that’s an easy mistake to make, and I had to spend 30 seconds investigating the situation on the internet myself to confirm my suspicion that Jeremy had it wrong, so I was hardly going to bash him over the head with what was after all, in my own words, a minor point. But maybe Mondo next time you could take the trouble to use Google yourself to check if you actually know what you’re talking about, rather than blithely re-asserting someone else’s error when it has been picked up on? Just a thought.

    P.S. Jeremy, if you’re interested in the more serious anti-anti-banking argument, see Pascoe’s recent writing on the subject e.g. here, or if he doesn’t have enough left wing cred for you, try Gittins, for example here, or perhaps you would even deign to read my own comments at the Punch, in response to Penbo and, more recently and exasperatedly, Adam Bandt. (I know I’ve already linked to the latter on another post but I’m guessing you probably didn’t bother wading through the comments…)

  5. But maybe Mondo next time you could take the trouble to use Google yourself to check if you actually know what you’re talking about, rather than blithely re-asserting someone else’s error when it has been picked up on?

    After that little childish spray I’m sure you’ll have no trouble pointing out where I “blithely re-asserted” that ING was a bank, Jordan.

    Because it seems to me that all I did was ask you a question.

  6. jordanrastrick

    OK, maybe your question was motivated by an honest desire to be informed with no intention of sarcasm, and for whatever reason you found it easier to ask than to check for yourself. Tone is notoriously hard to assess on the Internet, and I was too quick to assume the worst. I apologize for letting past arguments cloud my judgement about your good faith.

    The ING issue isn’t especially critical to the wider debate, except inasmuch as their existence belies the argument to lack of competition. ING everyday accounts are essentially fee free; apparently, their mortgages are very competitive as well; their savings accounts have had consistently good returns and helped spur better term deposit offers from the majors; and they are most definitely not a big four subsidiary. Why then is their market share so small? I’d agree with Gittins, and others, that it’s because most people enjoy whinging about the banks but are actually too apathetic to investigate or switch to the competitors. In which case, drastic government intervention of the kind the greens advocate is hardly justified.

  7. Apology accepted.

    And for the record I had no idea of the distinction between ING Australia and ING Direct. It is good news indeed that ING’s banking arm remains independent of the big four.

  8. Likewise.

    The other examples are still of significant concern, however.

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