Finance and Social Justice

.Published on naked capitalism, by Yves Smith, Sept 9, 2014.

… To put it in crude terms, we see a split between readers who are primarily interested in social justice issues, and ones that are more interested in the more technical aspects of finance and economics. For instance, we’ve had members of Occupy Wall Street complain to us about the amount of non-finance discussion in comments, that from their perspective, it made the comments section (which we’ve regarded as one of the strong features of the site) unusable for hard core finance types … //

… But as the ripples from the crisis widen further and further, two things have happened. The big one is what Lambert calls narrative repression. The Fed’s efforts to fight the crisis along with some but not enough reform, has led many people to take less interest in finance. There was a sense of urgency and outrage after the crisis, but with the prospect of additional reform seemingly nil, it would seem that finance is no longer where the action is.

That attitude, unfortunately, is the foundation of crises. It is precisely at the times when risk is perceived to be low that investors and speculators pile into hazardous positions and eventually blow themselves up. But the conundrum is that “eventually” can be a while in coming. Record 2006 and 2007 Wall Street bonuses show that going along for the ride, even if you know better, is a rewarding strategy, provided you are playing with other people’s money.

And from a pure social justice perspective, many of the woes that are continuing to befall what is left of the middle class are the result of past and continuing financial looting. Consider, for instance, what Richard Smith calls the helotization of New Zealand. Via e-mail:

Chinese oligarchs buying up New Zealand farms (many crippled by GFC era interest rate derivatives deals, natch) via opaque offshore mechanisms. See Russians in London, and Manhattan also, for comparison.

And that is leading to political pressure to further weaken New Zealand’s environmental standards (waterways are already showing discoloration and groundwater is increasingly contaminated) in the name of growth, specifically, converting more land to dairy production. So while this might look like a foreign capital trumping local and national sovereignity, what produced the vulnerability were general and specific effects of the global financial crisis, namely, the lean post crisis years and the damage inflicted on farmers through derivative bets gone bad. Bear in mind this was not normal agricultural hedging gone awry … //

… So our frustration is when we start explaining how the SEC has approved a raft of retail products with derivatives embedded in them, or how private equity firms abuse their limited partners, these are not as remote from you as you may think. There are tons of people who were never within hailing distance of a subprime loan who nevertheless suffered in ways small and large as a result of the global financial meltdown.

It thus remains a subject of considerable frustration that it is hard to marshall reader interest in what are clearly problematic and in many cases fraudulent practices. Mind you, it isn’t just that lack of reader engagement is demotivating to us. It’s that it sends the wrong message to regulators and investigators. If they see few comments on posts describing certain types of bad conduct on a site geared towards smarter, savvier readers, they may well assume that the public doesn’t care about this issue and thus they have little reason to stand up to financial services industry demands.

As Simon Johnson described in a seminal 2009 Atlantic article, The Quiet Coup, the financial crisis was not merely a massive transfer of wealth to financiers but allowed them to capture the US government. The banking industry also emerged more powerful in the Eurozone.

It is not obvious how to break the stranglehold of elite financiers. But remaining ignorant about how they operate guarantees that they will be able to improve upon their already advantaged position. Remember, as much as debating news stories on Ukraine may sharpen your resistance to propaganda, you can’t influence that course of events. By contrast, you can have an impact on the banking front, in ways small and large, from warning friends and colleagues about the dangers of various borrowing and investment products, to writing regulators about why you are opposed to yet more concessions to a bloated financial services industry. This is a front where citizens like you can take ground back, but only if you go to the effort to arm yourself with information.

(full text).

Related Links:

Websites – Blogs:

Other Links:

OSZE-Bericht überführt Obama als Lügner: Keine russischen Soldaten und Panzer in Ukraine, im KOPP online, von Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, 9. Sept 2014: … Lügen wie diese könnten die Menschheit kopflos in einen Dritten Weltkrieg stürzen … (langer Artikel);

Lake Baikal, world’s deepest body of freshwater, turning into swamp – ecologists, on Russia Today RT, Sept 8, 2014;

Scandal in Brazil: The Petrobras affair, on The Economist, by J.P., Sept 8, 2014;

British ISIS women form ’sharia police’ force – report, on Russia Today RT, Sept 8, 2014;

Clashes in France’s Calais as anti-immigration rally runs into anti-fascists, 0.38 min, on Russia Today RT, Sept 7, 2014;

Video: The Powers Behind The Islamic State, 21.18 min, (with journalist Nafeez Ahmed), uploaded by TheRealNews, Aug 23, 2014;

KenFM im Gespräch mit Lars Mährholz, 66.18 min, von wwwKenFMde am 1. Juni 2014 hochgeladen;

One out of Every Four Activists Could Be a Corporate Spy – Nafeez Ahmed, 12.31 min, uploaded by breakingtheset, Dec 18, 2013: Abby Martin features an exclusive interview with Nafeez Ahmed, investigative journalist for the Guardian about a stunning new report from the Center for Corporate Policy, that says 1 out of every 4 activist may be a corporate spy. They go on to discuss the corporate industry’s role in subverting democracy and contributing to climate change …;

Nafeez Ahmed: on his website; on The Guardian; on The Huffington Post;

… and this:

  • Photo of the Day, beatiful photos on Steve Quayle’s Photo Gallery Archives: 2014201320122011;

… et encore ceci:

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