The people who brought us the banking crashes of 2007-2008 that became the credit crunch 2008-2009 and the economic wreckage we’ve lived in since are having another go. The very credit arrangements that brought us so much grief are fashionable again. Continue reading
Copenhagen is a city where people like to party. Coming into December, the city was all dressed up for a climate party with posters of green exhortation everywhere and different official and unofficial events laid on. But in the end as everybody knows, the climate conference was no party. Yet there is this terrible sense of hangover around. Political leaders, delegates, activists and journalists have reeled away from the site and the recriminations have started about who just behaved badly and who actually threw up.
Around the city there were also some particularly crude advertisements using sex to sell booze with the slogan, “Party now, Apologize later.” But that’s another way the conference was not like a party. No-one has apologised. Even though the city encouraged them. One set of posters that went up well before the conference showed world leaders in 2020 apologizing for having failed in Copenhagen in 2009: ageing Obamas, Merkels, Browns et al look down and acknowledge their fault. But there have been no apologies. Instead they have passed the blame.
Let’s try something different. Instead of blame and apology let’s take some time to discuss results, reasons and response. It’s a lengthy discussion that must start now because it’s already time to shake off that hangover. Continue reading
Tobin or not to bin? Gordon Brown’s apparently sudden conversion to supporting a tax on financial transactions – initially proposed by James Tobin – has, if nothing else, put new energy into the related debates about the banking sector, paying off the costs of the economic crunch, and financing basic social needs. But will it fly? And should it? There are several strong reasons why but there is a negative side that we also need to attend to. Continue reading
British politics is in one hell of a hole because of stupid abuse of a stupid set-up for covering the living expenses of Members of Parliament. The system was meant to augment MPs’ income because successive governments since the 1980s have been too gutless to agree to raise MPs’ pay in line with, for example, doctors. So the arrangement was always a piece of classic British hypocrisy and now it’s backfired into the fan. As the scandal and ridicule unfolds, though not all MPs are embroiled in it, the body as a whole is naturally obsessed by it and their real business suffers. Here are ten key problems Parliament should be talking about instead of staring up itself.
On the eve of the UK budget statement, the International Monetary Fund today estimated the cost to the British government and taxpayer of bailing out British banks to be £200 billion. That’s not how much we’re under-writing, guaranteeing or spinning. It’s money that we will have to actually pay out. Except, no it’s not. There’s no point giving you the link to the IMF web-site so you can see the fancy graph because they’ve, er, well, anyway it’s not there anymore. They took it down. It was wrong. Oops. Continue reading
Thursday’s G-20 summit communique was followed by an immediate hailstorm of judgements. The term “new world order” has been used more than once, which in principle is not out of order when the leaders of countries responsible for 90 per cent of world output are gathered together, and you know there is some kind of success when major world leaders queue up to claim the credit. Continue reading
It looks like there will be some serious demonstrations to welcome the G-20 summiteers to London on 2 April. Protests will reflect anger at the human costs of the recession and a conviction (or hope) that the system has not only failed many ordinary people but is failing full stop. And there will be a lot of sympathy for the protests because it is hard to see the G-20 straightforwardly addressing the big problems. There are four in particular that could do with high-level attention. Continue reading
Imagine how the world would look if banking were seen as a service, out of which profit can reasonably be made, as I suggested in my last post, instead of being seen almost exclusively as a profit-making business. Instead of thinking about the impact of two more grisly days for trading in bank shares on both sides of the Atlantic, let’s spend some time on how things might be different. Continue reading
Some people believe that a drowning man comes up three times for air before finally succumbing. Put another way – he goes down three times before he stays there. Is that’s what happening with the banks? Continue reading