I was recently interviewed on the John Griff programme on BBC Radio Northampton. This was my first (and hopefully not my last) radio interview and it was a lot of fun. Amongst other things, we discussed my experiences of personal debt and bankruptcy which lead to me writing my book.

UPDATE: The interview is now available to listen to here.

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I was recently asked by the guys from the Debtology website to write a guest post in response to an earlier article on the subject of bankruptcy (‘Bankruptcy – what IS the big deal?).

In my piece I talk about why we need our easy bankruptcy laws and also about how attitudes toward debt and bankruptcy are changing.  

If you are thinking about going bankrupt but are maybe worried about how you will be perceived, then you should definitely have a read.

The article is available here.

PS. If you are worried about debt and in need of free debt advice, then perhaps the guys from Debtology can help.

Talking about the Bankruptcy Diaries

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed about my book by the lovely people at Hackney Hive. It was great to talk about the work and some of the issues around it. Thanks to all those at HH for showing their support for local artists. 

Below is an excerpt:

Hackney’s rich history has many aspects, but it is particularly feted for two things: being London’s revolutionary corner and its importance as an artistic hub. Often, these two collide and have provided many high points in Hackney’s cultural palette, especially its literary output. The best known of today’s Hackney literati is Ian Sinclair, a beacon for London literature. Lee Rourke is also proud to call Hackney ‘home’. It is time to welcome a new addition to Hackney’s artistic – and artistically revolutionary – spirit: Paul Broderick, author of the recently released The Bankruptcy Diaries. I was fortunate enough to be afforded a short audience with the author to talk about his book, why he wrote it and what he will be working on next.

“The Bankruptcy Diaries is truly a banquet for the soul of our modern moralists,” said Paul. “It’s one man’s journey – mine – from the youthful naivety of university and entering working life and my role in the broader fiscal complexities of the state to an enlightened awareness of the actual depth of today’s corporate exploitation of the individual. I present the work as a choice that many people are now – and many more soon will be – confronted with: levels of debt that can never be repaid. I took my choice on this – it’s all in the book.”

To read the rest of this article click here. 

Hello, I regret to announce that the previous author of this site, Mr. A.N. Other, is being retired, as there’s little point in remaining anonymous when you have book out with your name on it. Speaking of which, The Bankruptcy Diaries is being released next week. Below is the great blurb from the publisher, Revenge Ink:

Anyone can be king for a day... up to the limit on their card.

 It’s the year 2000 and Paul Livingson is in his first office job in Bristol. With student debts hanging over him, Paul still wants to live the high life: holidays in Europe, booze-fuelled nights of excess, designer fashions. But how to do it all? Easy! More credit! Spending gets even easier when Paul meets Kelly, an inspiring, free-spirited singer in a band with whom he falls in love. Written in the form of a diary, this book is about losing control and learning to regain it. It is about putting individuality above consumerism and asking who is responsible for the financial meltdown that more and more people face everyday. Is it all down to personal responsibility? Or does the system encourage massive debt that makes slaves of us all just for a handful of profits? An entertaining, honest and thought-provoking book that makes Lao Tse’s great point: doing nothing, everything is done. 

So, if you think that sounds interesting you can buy the book here.

Also, please visit the Revenge Ink website, as they’re doing some really great things. In the words of co-founder Amita Mukerjee, their books ‘are all about difference. Impossible to categorise, experimental, extreme, each one radically distinct from the other.’

 Please do not be alarmed, I am not about to start a ‘Politician of the Week’ feature – once you’ve been ‘Clegged’ faith can never be fully restored – but I was nonetheless heartened to learn of MP Andrew Percy’s remarkably candid revelations about his own problems with debt during a Commons debate (on the Finance Bill) earlier this week. Percy revealed to the House how he had repeatedly maxed out credit cards and is still saddled with enormous repayments. The MP said:

“I certainly understand having debts to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds.

In my case, it was credit card debt, and I am not alone in that. It started at university and I went down the line of paying off one credit card by transferring it to another on 0% for a year or a number of months before conveniently forgetting that and maxing out the one that I had just cleared. I now pay about £600 a month to clear all my credit cards, which I have had to roll into a loan since my election. I understand what debt is like and I know how once someone is on the conveyer belt, it is difficult to get off, and that is just with credit card debt.”

Aside from being evidence of the extent to which debt culture has permeated all levels of society, Percy’s statement shows that we at least have some Parliamentarians with first-hand experience of the harmful effects of the debt industry; if credit, or debt (as they are one and the same), is to be more tightly controlled in order to prevent people’s lives from being ruined, then this can only be a good thing.

Leading the charge

The specific subject of the debate was a proposed amendment to Clause 11 of the Finance Bill, relating to high-cost lending: that most damaging sector of the credit industry which consists of companies who lend at extortionate rates to those who cannot get credit elsewhere, including payday and doorstep loan companies that also target the most vulnerable groups. Only this afternoon I saw a TV commercial from one of these companies, Wonga, advertising a 4,500% interest rate.


Could a doorstep loan be the answer to your problems?

 

 

Also deserving of special mention was the leading voice on the subject, Stella Creasy MP, who has been ardently campaigning for greater regulation of the high-cost credit industry for some time. Creasy told the House:

“the companies have specifically said that the lack of regulation in the UK compared with other countries makes it a target market for them.”

And,

“…in its ‘Keeping the Plates Spinning’ report, Consumer Focus estimates that payday lenders are expected to quadruple the scale of their operations in the UK in the next few years alone.”

Business as usual

Typically – in accordance with le libéralisme sauvage, which despite the crash and its fallout, shows no signs of being supplanted as the ruling ideology in Britain – those suffering most in these hard times are being pummeled for profit by the money-men and shareholders who operate these parasitic companies. Despite the best efforts of Andrew Percy, Stella Creasy and many others, the light-touch regulation mob prevailed and the motion was defeated by 273 votes to 228.

You can read the full text of the debate here.


Judge Nicholas Chambers QC has become an unlikely Bankruptcy Hero after deciding in a recent court case to write-off a customer’s £20,270 debt to MBNA, ruling that the credit card company and their debt collection minions had ‘tortured’ borrower Keith Harrison with the frequency of their phone calls.

Debtors 1 Credit Cronies 0

 Mr Harrison argued that he wasn’t sent the Terms & Conditions when he took out the credit card, and this was contrary to the Consumer Credit Regulations 1983. As MBNA could not prove that they had sent out the T & C’s, the judge ruled in Mr Harrison’s favour.

 In condemning the insidious practises of the credit industry, the Judge’s comments make for fascinating reading:

 “In my view, the Claimant rightly complains that, mainly by MBNA but also by the Defendant [debt collectors Link Financial], he was hounded by telephone calls seeking payment of what was said to be due. The calls were a form of torture oppressively frequent in amount and often without attribution to an identifiable number.”

 It seems to me that such conduct has no proper function in the recovery of consumer debt.”

 “[There] can be no excuse for conduct of which it must be supposed the sole purpose must have been to make the Claimant’s life so difficult that he would come to heel. I cannot think that in a society that is otherwise so sensitive of a consumer’s position this is conduct that should countenanced.”

By highlighting the fact that the calls were often from an ‘unidentifiable number’, the judge brings attention to the psychological effects of the money-chasers bullying methods. Hopefully this judgement can be the start of a process which sees such practices outlawed for good.

To read the full text of this excellent judgement click here – it’s very short.

The comment section of this Yahoo finance article also makes for interesting reading.

A recent article by Lisa O’Carroll highlighted the interesting phenomenon of bankruptcy tourists from Ireland heading to the UK to discharge their debts. Due to more favourable insolvency laws – a bankrupt in the UK is discharged after just twelve months, whereas in Ireland it’s a draconian twelve years – Irish debtors are doing the sensible thing and crossing the sea for a quick release from debt.

Fish 'n' Chips, Tea, Becoming Debt Free

The most fascinating revelation in the article was that, ‘as few as 29 people were made bankrupt in Ireland last year’, a staggeringly low number considering the severity of the property crash in the Republic, especially when compared to the 79,000 who went bankrupt in the UK during the same period. It’s not difficult to deduce that the UK is effectively operating as Ireland’s bankruptcy court, which is considerably more helpful to Irish citizens than another bailout loan. Although ascertaining exactly how many of the UK’s bankrupts are made up of Irish citizens would be difficult, and clearly some Irish debtors will be eloping overseas without bothering with any formal debt discharge procedures (I would love to hear from you guys).

I just hope the message is getting through to the people at the bottom. The Irish banks have had their bailout, in turn subjecting citizens to some of the most brutal cuts in Europe. Now we hear tales of Irish property speculators bailing themselves out, by utilising UK laws. I’ve already called for a ‘People’s Bailout’, and now I extend this call to the people of Ireland – don’t be the chump left with a sackful of debt whilst everyone else extricates themselves from the mess. Get yourselves over to the UK and get rid of that debt!

Update: I have found a great article with information for Irish citizens wishing to go bankrupt in the UK. If you wish to know more then click here.

Thou shalt remain in servitude

The latest insolvency statistics were released yesterday and, as usually follows such announcements, the comment threads of news sites were awash with the protestations of indignant moralisers, complaining about the unjustness of it all – at how people can simply walk away and leave a trail of bad debts. Perhaps these preachers should stop for a moment to consider the absurdity of their outdated position?

Post- economic crisis, the banks have been bailed out leaving the citizens of this country to bear the brunt of savage cuts, which are the result of a huge deficit caused by the bankers’ unchecked greed and recklessness. Yet nothing has changed – the rotten system remains unfixed, and huge bonuses are being paid out once again. Proof of a return to ‘avarice as usual’, on the part of the global elite, was confirmed by Bob Diamond, CEO of Barclays, who last month brazenly told the Treasury Select Committee that, “there was a period of remorse and apology for banks and I think that period needs to be over”.

Ten Hail Marys...

In light of the gross inequalities of a rigged system – where the rich and powerful continue to profit and the masses take the pain – crying foul over those at the bottom freeing themselves from the debt shackles handed to them by the global lever pullers, is to effectively disseminate the banks propaganda for them, helping to keep the system functioning. 

A People’s Bailout

So the bankers have had their bailout and announced that their period of penance is over, but what of the millions of indebted people who don’t have anyone coming to their rescue? The people have an escape route too – in the form of easy insolvency laws. So if you’re over-indebted then don’t think twice about opting to bail out. Certainly don’t listen to the howls of righteous indignation as you announce your decision. Grab the parachute, take the leap, and float down into the land of freedom…

Can't handle life in a cage man

With massive student protests taking place in London today I’ve noticed a lot of web chatter about potentially putting oneself through university, racking up the fees and then declaring yourself bankrupt afterwards. A very shrewd move. However, this loophole was closed years ago after a few canny students began doing this. But the idea is a good one.

Sing for Free Education!

My advice would be to pay off the student loans with personal loans and credit cards before going bankrupt. However, one needs to be very careful here. The authorities are not stupid and could either reject your bankruptcy petition, or slap with you with a restriction order that lasts a decade. For this reason I would allow a good stretch of time to pass after paying off the student loans, keep racking up as much debt as possible – have ball whilst you’re at it – and then press the bankruptcy button a year or two down the line. I’m not sure whether this would work but I’d love to see somebody try. Well, it has been a day of protest and revolt…

Beneath the headlines lies the truth

The latest insolvency figures were published today and the headlines were all about the fact that there had been a sharp drop in personal bankruptcies during the third quarter of 2010 (the lowest level for five years). However, the total number of people declared insolvent during this period only fell 3.7% on the same period a year ago. This is because other forms of insolvency, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and Debt Relief Orders (DROs), have become more popular. It’s not that fewer people are struggling with debt and deciding to walk away from it, it’s just that they are choosing to free themselves in a different way.

My personal view is that this slight dip in insolvencies will be very temporary. Once the impact of the government cuts are felt, and if interest rates rise (they have to someday), those on the precipice will be tipped over the edge. 

80% Choose FreedomBy George! It's so easy to choose life and walk away from dreary debt

Another interesting fact was revealed in a statement from an insolvency practitioner, who said that,

 “More than eight out of 10 bankruptcies were made on petition of the debtor, which shows that many people have had enough and are throwing in the towel. They have been living with the pressure of debt for too long.”

So eighty percent of bankrupt’s chose this option for themselves rather than being forced into it, a heartening statistic that demonstrates that people are waking up to the fact that they can easily free themselves from the scourge of debt and the rule of the banks.

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