Category: Financial Crime

Why we need nationalised Banks

by George Irvin 

As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.” (Lord Skidelsky, House of Lords, Hansard Citation, 31 March 2011, c1359)

Everybody agrees that the next financial crisis is about to hit us …. bringing another economic crisis in its wake. The general view is that if we were able to prevent meltdown in 2008 by throwing money at the banks, this time the money will be more difficult to find. Unlike the last time, the OECD economies are stagnating, unemployment is high and there’s already much public anger about cuts, joblessness and bankers’ bonuses. [1]

Perhaps we should remember that in 2009, neo-liberalism was pronounced dead and buried. It was thought that a new, more thoughtful era was being born. It most certainly didn’t happen. Instead, European countries became more narrowly nationalistic and xenophobic, while the US gave the world the Tea Party. So there is good reason to believe that, as in the 1930s, economic crisis may strengthen the right more than the left. That’s one reason that progressives need to sloganise less (eg, it’s all due to greedy bankers) and think more about underlying causes.

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What 21st Century Democracy Looks Like

by Alan Jenkins

Those who say they don’t know what the Occupy Wall Street protestors want fail to understand the nature of this quintessential 21st century movement. It is true that they have no manifesto or declaration. They have not released a singular list of demands, although they have a process in place to do so. But when you listen to the participants tell their stories, when you read their signs and hear their songs, their shared desires for our nation clearly emerge.

Their most fervent demand, not surprisingly, is for honest work that pays a decent, living wage, not only for themselves, but for their 14 million fellow unemployed Americans. But taken together, there is much more.

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Let’s end corruption – starting with Wall Street

by Mark Engler

As the #OccupyWallStreet protests continue to grow,  bankers must be held to account for their ill-gotten gains.
It’s a favourite conservative ploy in the development debate: blame poverty on corruption.

When explaining why countries in the Global South face stark levels of inequality and deprivation, you just say it’s due to a common penchant for bribery and fraud. You treat it as a cultural deficiency.

Following this approach, institutions such as the World Bank trumpet their work in ‘good governance’ and anti-corruption. No need to examine the disastrous results of neoliberal policies such as privatization, deregulation and austerity. Nor do élites in wealthy countries have to acknowledge how foreign corporations have propagated kickbacks and cronyism. Instead, they can simply regard these as endemic to the darker continents.

Since 2008, not a single senior executive in the US banking industry has faced jail time for fuelling one of the largest financial crises in history.

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Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now

by Naomi Klein 

I was honored to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I say will have to be repeated by hundreds of people so others can hear (a k a “the human microphone”), what I actually say at Liberty Plaza will have to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.

I love you.

And I didn’t just say that so that hundreds of you would shout “I love you” back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.

Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.

If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.

And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it’s a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say “No. We will not pay for your crisis.”

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The four habits of highly successful social movements

by Ezra Klein

(On Monday, I asked Rich Yeselson for his thoughts on Occupy Wall Street. Yeselson, a research coordinator at Change to Win, is a skilled organizer and a thoughtful historian of social movements in America and Europe. On Tuesday, he sent over some notes, and I think they’re worth publishing in full. All opinions expressed here are his own. — Ezra)

The Wall Street protests seem to be gathering strength and expanding beyond the geographic limits of downtown Manhattan. The media, too, is finally amplifying the story. Whether they will grow larger and sustain themselves beyond these initial street actions will depend upon four things: the work of skilled organizers; the success of those organizers in getting people, once these events end, to meet over and over and over again; whether or not the movement can promote public policy solutions that are organically linked to the quotidian lives of its supporters; and the ability of liberalism’s infrastructure of intellectuals, writers, artists and professionals to expend an enormous amount of their cultural capital in support of the movement.

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