"Leeches"

Article by Jorge Cadima, member of the International Department

Last week, the implosion of the US financial system turned into an enormous worldwide stock market meltdown, comparable to 1929. The New York stock market's Dow Jones index ended the week losing 18.2% of its value (and over 40% in relation to the its peak of less than a year ago). The meltdown in the European stock markets exceeded 20%. It is obvious that world capitalism's main leaders are at a loss. The IMF President warns that we are "on the verge of a systemic meltdown" (BBC, 08.10.11). The dispute over who will pay the costs of the gigantic black hole that was created by big finance has begun. The colossal amounts of public money which are being thrown at the crisis, in an attempt to stem the panic, show that big capital will try to solve its crisis at the peoples’ expense. It is already being estimated that the US budget deficit will reach "2 trillion dollars" in 2009 ( Bloomberg, 08.10.10 ). This is more or less the size of the United Kingdom’s GDP. After running the banks into the ground, they will now bury States. Just look at Iceland.

In 5 years (2003-07), the executives of the 5 major Wall Street investment banks (all in trouble or already bankrupt) paid (to themselves) over 3 billion dollars (Bloomberg, 08.09.26). To have an idea of the amount in question, recall that the legislation to try and save the US financial system (transferring the banks' losses to the public Treasury) and which was initially rejected by the US House of Representatives, totalled 700 billion dollars. One doesn't have to understand anything about economics to see that what is taking place (and, if they have it their way, will continue to happen) is a gigantic transfer of wealth, from the pockets of those who work, to the pockets of a small class of parasites. The story is much more elucidating because one of those executives – in fact, the chief executive (CEO) of Goldman and Sachs between 1999 and 2006 – is the current US Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson. According to the bail-out bill which he presented to Congress, he alone will decide how to spend the 700 billion dollars and his decisions cannot be challenged in court or subjected to any kind of administrative procedure. Which is more or less like leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse and going away on holidays. Not to be left behind, the directors of the world's biggest insurance company, AIG, met, one week after receiving 85 billion dollars of public money to save their bankrupt company. The retreat took place at a seaside hotel in California, and the bill totalled almost half a million dollars, including almost 150 thousand dollars in banquets (Fox, 08.10.07. ).

These facts mirror what capitalism's "crazy years" at the turn of the millennium have meant. Whole countries and continents (such as Africa or Latin America) were reduced to poverty in order to feed a class that accumulated obscene wealth, plundering the fruits of Humanity’s labour. Whole communities and industries were destroyed because the "markets" demanded it, and the "taxpayer" wasn’t willing to support "inefficiencies". We had to hear the pundits and promoters of wild capitalism (like José Socrates ) telling us that the problem were the civil servants, workers with contracts, the unions, the Communists, the labour laws, bad neighbourhoods. But who caused the meltdown which is sweeping the planet? It was the "respectable" money lords, the famous "markets", which plundered in great style. And now they want "the taxpayer" to endure the costs of their plunder. With the bank executives, who took home billions, in charge of the whole thing.

The time has come to put an end to this plague.

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