Category Archives: finance

Open democracy on the financial crisis – the end of American capitalism?

openDemocracy on the global financial crisis of 2007-08:

Saskia Sassen, Globalisation, the state and the democratic deficit” (18 July 2007)

Tony Curzon Price, “The end of gentlemanly capitalism” (13 August 2007)

Robert Wade, “The financial crisis: burst bubble, frayed model” (1 October 2007)

Avinash D Persaud, “The dollar standard: (only the) beginning of the end” (5 December 2007)

Fred Halliday, “Sovereign Wealth Funds: power vs principle” (5 March 2008)

Willem Buiter, “The end of American capitalism (as we knew it)” (17 September 2008)

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Filed under Capital markets, capitalism, finance, Multilateral Institutions

on the demise of neo-liberalism

Stumbled on this excellent blog – The blogger Haroon Akram-Lodhi writes:

… global financial crisis of the past 3 weeks has, in my view, fundamentally changed the landscape of global capitalism. A world that was effectively born on 4 November 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan as U.S. President (I was in San Francisco at the time) has ended, and a period of untrammelled global neoliberalism will have to change if global finance capital is to survive.

How much has the world changed? Consider this. In the United Kingdom, where, of course, London is the second most important financial center in the world, the Royal Bank of Scotland, one of Britain’s most important financial institutions, will soon be 57 per cent owned by the British state. It is also expected that the British state will own up to 40 per cent of the newly merged (and so far unnamed) Lloyds-TSB-Halifx Bank of Scotland combination, which is also one of the largest and most important British financial institutions. Continue reading

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Filed under finance, neo-liberal

US congressman: “If we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to have martial law in the United States”

By Tom Eley writing at WSS

(3 October 2008)

In the wake of Monday’s vote in the US House of Representatives rejecting the $700 billion bailout package for the American financial industry, prominent voices in the US and international media have responded by denouncing the lower house of Congress and complaining that the American political system is too susceptible to popular opinion and insufficiently obedient to the will of the corporate and political elite.

The yearning for more authoritarian forms of rule was expressed by, among others, Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush. In a column in the Washington Post, he complained, “[I]t is now clear that American political elites have lost the ability to quickly respond to a national challenge by imposing their collective will.” The Times of London, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, was even more blunt, headlining a column, “Congress is the Best Advert for Dictatorship.” Continue reading

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Filed under Capital markets, capitalism, finance, United States

Farewell to the neo-classical revolution

by Robert Skidelsky

A few geniuses aside, economists frame their assumptions to suit existing states of affairs, and then invest them with an aura of permanent truth. They are intellectual butlers, serving the interests of those in power, not vigilant observers of shifting reality

The looming bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the forced sale of Merrill Lynch, two of the greatest names in finance, mark the end of an era. But what will come next?

Cycles of economic fashion are as old as business cycles, and are usually caused by deep business disturbances. “Liberal” cycles are followed by “conservative” cycles, which give way to new “liberal” cycles, and so on. Continue reading

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Filed under capitalism, finance, United States

An alternative response to current oil and food crises

Here is an alternative and deeply ideological response to the current crisis of global economic system reflected by oil and food speculation and profit-greed at a scale unprecedented in the recent times.

At the heart of the crisis is the breakdown of the global economic system. For decades, politicians, corporate leaders and the media have subjected the world’s people to the self-serving claim that the capitalist market is the most rational means of allocating society’s resources. What is now being revealed is the basic conflict between the needs of a modern mass society and anarchy of the profit system.

It is impossible to ascertain any truthful estimates of remaining global supplies, because the oil producing countries and energy conglomerates have vested interests in concealing their “business secrets” from the people. Entrenched corporate and political opposition has also largely squelched large-scale development of environmentally safe and sustainable alternatives, although the technology has existed, in some cases, for decades.

Supposed solutions produced within the framework of the capitalist system have only worsened the crisis. The development of bio-fuels is a case in point. Even if one were to accept the widely disputed claims that bio-fuels are a means of reducing carbon emissions, their production has only led to a massive increase in the price of corn and other crops, wreaking havoc throughout the world. The entire project has been tied to the interests of agri-business monopolies, such as ADM and Cargill, which have an overriding concern, not in ending global warming, but boosting their bottom lines.

The rational use of remaining petroleum resources and the development of genuine alternatives require an unprecedented level of international cooperation and the marshalling of the world’s technological, material and human resources. This is not possible as long as capitalism divides the globe into competing nation states, each vying for advantage over the other.

The mad scramble to control the world’s remaining oil supplies has led to a violent struggle, in which the bloody US invasion and occupation of Iraq is but one episode. All of the major powers—from the US, to China, Europe, and Japan—are vying for control of the Middle East, the Caspian region, the Artic and Antarctica and even the sea-beds of the world’s oceans. The struggle for resources is once again threatening the world with the eruption of a new round of imperialist wars, which could threaten the very survival of humanity.

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Filed under finance, Food Security, Globalization, Oil

Global survey reveals growing anger over social inequality

By Bill Van Auken
20 May 2008

The unprecedented accumulation of wealth by a narrow financial elite under conditions of declining real incomes for the vast majority of the world’s population is creating mounting discontent and anger.

This is the significance of a poll conducted across Europe, Asia and the United States by the Financial Times of London and the Harris polling firm.

“Income inequality has emerged as a highly contentious political issue in many countries as the latest wave of globalization has created a ‘superclass’ of rich people,” the Financial Times commented in relation to the poll results, which were published Monday.

The FT/Harris poll found overwhelming majorities throughout Europe expressing the view that the social chasm between the financial elite and the rest of the population has grown too large. In Spain, for example, 76 percent said that social inequality had grown too great, while in Germany the figure was 87 percent.

In China, which has become the low-wage manufacturing center of the world, subjecting millions of workers to exploitation while producing a new class of billionaires and multi-millionaires, 80 percent said that inequality in income was too great. Continue reading

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Filed under capitalism, Development, finance, Globalization, Income distribution, Inequality, Poverty, Surveys, World

‘Financial globalisation can reinforce Islamic finance’

KARACHI: Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), has said the Islamic financial services industry needs to consolidate itself to be able to better compete with global players through achieving scale efficiency and cost effectiveness in addition to rapidly building its capacities to standardise regulation, supervision and accounting practices, while strengthening the governance of the industry.

Delivering her keynote address as the Chairperson of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) on “Financial Globalization and Islamic Financial Services Industry” at the 5th Annual Summit of the IFSB held in Amman, Jordan, Dr Akhtar said the Islamic financial services industry has been transformed from being a peripheral activity to a sizeable industry which is attracting global interest.

She said financial globalization would foster this industry and given the inherent features and richness of Islamic principles, modalities and products’ growth, it would be beneficial for supporting the process of regional and global financial deepening. Although currently the size of the industry is small relative to the global financial system, it has promising growth prospects, she added. Continue reading

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Filed under Capital markets, capitalism, finance, Globalization, Pakistan