06 October 2008

Another Black Monday

The world's financial markets have been in a deep crisis for weeks, but today they are in panic.

No other word fits the massive turmoil, chaos and running-about like a bunch of headless chicken. There have been heavy falls on stock markets everywhere, with many exchanges hitting record lows and seeing big sell-offs of bank shares.

Analysts are blaming a lack of certainty about US and European rescue initiatives for the financial sector.
That is quite correct, but it only exposes the high rollers in the world's banks and financial institutions as the incompetent and greedy fools they are.
These brainless wreckers of the economies of many countries, who are unqualified for the overpaid jobs they hold, should be rounded up by the police, interned and charged with collective fraud and high treason.
And the governments of their countries should strip them of every personal asset they have accumulated through their criminal machinations which have pushed the world into the biggest crisis for 80 years.

If you think that I am angry about all this, you are quite right. I am very angry.
And if you think that my suggestions would be an over-reaction to what happened - well, this might be. But if we let these white-collar criminals get away with billions of looted money while we all have to suffer as a result of their enormous blunder, the same thing will happen again in some years from now and no-one will have learned any lessons.

Poor people who steal some food from a super-market are sent to prison. Perhaps rightly so.
But the real criminals who wreck whole nations get - so far - away free and can even keep all their ill-gotten gains.
If we let this happen, we deserve every bit of hardship and suffering that is coming to us.

Today will probably enter the history books as another 'Black Monday'. Despite the more than generous (and in my opinion outright foolish) bail-out programmes that many governments - from Ireland over Germany and other EU countries to the USA - have hastily put in place to save the rotten banks, the international money markets seem to know better. Just have a look at today's reports:

DUBLIN:
The ISEQ index closed nearly 10% lower, with shares in the four main financial stocks falling sharply. Irish Life & Permanent and Anglo Irish Bank were more than 20% lower.

NEW YORK:
The Dow Jones index fell below the key psychological level of 10,000 for the first time since October 2004. It lost as much as 800 points, but recovered later, to close down 'only' 3.3% (340.49 points) at 9,984.89.
The high-tech dominated NASDAQ index fell 4.34% (84.43 points) to 1,862.96.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.62% (39.78 points) and closed at 1,059.45.

LONDON:
The FTSE index tumbled nearly 8% to stand at 4589 at the close. Banking stocks were hit particularly hard and a total of over £ 93 billion was wiped off the value of British shares.

FRANKFURT:
The DAX index was down 7% to 5387.

PARIS:
The CAC index sank 9% to stand at 3712, its heaviest one-day loss since its creation in 1988.

MOSCOW:
A 15% dive in share value forced yet another halt to Russian trading today.

And these are only the most important ones. There was a downturn in share value everywhere, with not one single example of an economy moving against the trend.

Iceland, a small country with a population of only 250,000, avoided narrowly a complete collapse. Only through a state of emergency and nationalisation of their banks, augmented with the introduction of draconian government powers, did they avoid the risk of becoming a failed state overnight.

The list could go on and on... and I am sure that we will hear more of the same soon.

But do we get any real solutions from our political leaders? Not a word. All they do is throwing a lot of good money after plenty of bad, blowing up the balloon ever more, until it will eventually burst with a bang so loud and large that no-one - not governments and not the banks - will have a leg left to stand on.

Throughout the years of the 'Celtic Tiger' not one bank in Ireland encouraged people to save money. Interest rates for deposits were so low that they actively prevented any real savings. (The only positive exception was the SSIA scheme introduced by Charlie McCreevy, but as it was running for only a limited time, it had only a limited effect.)

But the banks did not only prevent people from saving money, they aggressively encouraged them to spend and borrow ever more, often way beyond prudence and people's real means. Especially young people were heavily targeted by the financial industry, given two or three credit cards and offered 100% mortgages for over-priced houses as well as loans for cars well above their income level and social status.

Above that, the same banks loaned billions to rival property developers, driving them into a hyped-up construction boom that was unsustainable from the very start. The government, and in particular the majority party Fianna Fáil, gave all this its blessing and supported the bubble with very generous tax conditions for the super-rich and the greedy wannabees riding the 'Celtic Tiger'.

Sadly the opposition did not offer any resistance or alternatives either. Even in the 2007 general election campaign Fine Gael pretended that the economy was sound and the country was not facing any financial problems. They could and should have known better, as many analysts warned already of the imminent end of our economic boom.

But Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny (left) and the American consultants who organised his campaign thought that they might lose votes if they mentioned a potential return to harder times. Well, seldom in Irish history was such a crucial strategic mistake made by a party leader.
Had Kenny attacked the government on the grounds of the already shaky economy and the declining financial reserves, he might well be Taoiseach now, with (the then Labour Party leader) Pat Rabbitte as Tánaiste.

And even if they had failed to form a government, they would now at least stand on the moral and political high ground, from which they could attack the incompetent and failing government. However, as things are, the opposition - with the sole exception of Sinn Fein - is caught in the same net of ignorance and complacency that envelopes the government.

One has to wonder if the Green Party is beginning to regret its decision to join the government in 2007. Usually one can see rats leaving a sinking ship, and not jumping onto one. But what is done is done, and so the once proud standard bearers for political and economical alternatives are no more. They have sold their souls and principles for a short-term taste of power, and now they are locked into the rotten system they started out to reform 25 years ago.

Looking around, there is not much hope for changes. Political and economical lifeboats have been burned on the bonfire of our vanities, and now the Irish nation and most of the world - including children, grandchildren and the yet unborn - have to take on a heavy mortgage for the unstable house of capitalism.

There would be ways out of the crisis, and proper solutions, but those who have the power for now are unable and unwilling to even contemplate real alternatives to the capitalist system. Thus we will have no choice but to prepare ourselves for a long and bleak period of collective suffering, while the rich and super-rich who robbed us of a decent future have a good laugh and continue to live in luxury.

The Emerald Islander

2 comments:

Tuna Blogger said...

Buy it. Sell it. Make a profit. It doesn't matter what it is. Doesn't matter if we need it or want it.
It's All Tuna! is where you can find out about how the "market" treats its customers. Our lives are something for them to buy and sell and on which to make a profit. When the profits begin to fail, they make us "lend" them our futures too.

Kevin Phillips wrote in Bad Money that the Canadian financial community a few years ago wanted the government and news media to declare a credit emergency in order to get a bailout. They failed to get what they wanted. Our Congress was not so smart. Naomi Klein wrote us a history of laissez-faire economics in her book Shock Doctrine and demonstrates how far the powerful financial institutions will go to make a profit. Rampant Capitalism is just as bad as zealous Socialism.

It is unfortunate that we Americans can point to Europe, Iceland and Asia to reassure ourselves that our mortgages and foreclosures are not the only cause of this global crisis. Since misery loves company we are all invited to the pub to drown our sorrows.

The Principle of Imminent Collapse has struck again!

Tuna Blogger said...

Buy it. Sell it. Make a profit. It doesn't matter what it is. Doesn't matter if we need it or want it.
It's All Tuna! is where you can find out about how the "market" treats its customers. Our lives are something for them to buy and sell and on which to make a profit. When the profits begin to fail, they make us "lend" them our futures too.

Kevin Phillips wrote in Bad Money that the Canadian financial community a few years ago wanted the government and news media to declare a credit emergency in order to get a bailout. They failed to get what they wanted. Our Congress was not so smart. Naomi Klein wrote us a history of laissez-faire economics in her book Shock Doctrine and demonstrates how far the powerful financial institutions will go to make a profit. Rampant Capitalism is just as bad as zealous Socialism.

It is unfortunate that we Americans can point to Europe, Iceland and Asia to reassure ourselves that our mortgages and foreclosures are not the only cause of this global crisis. Since misery loves company we are all invited to the pub to drown our sorrows.

The Principle of Imminent Collapse has struck again!

Post a Comment