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30 October 2015 by Eric Toussaint
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Governments of the most industrialised countries have dramatically increased their public debt to bail out the private banks after the most disastrous economic and financial meltdown in capitalist history since the 1930s. Paying debts and reducing fiscal deficits have become the perfect pretexts to enforce austerity measures everywhere. The Troika
Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.
IMF : https://www.ecb.europa.eu/home/html/index.en.html (European Commission, ECB ECB
European Central Bank The European Central Bank is a European institution based in Frankfurt, founded in 1998, to which the countries of the Eurozone have transferred their monetary powers. Its official role is to ensure price stability by combating inflation within that Zone. Its three decision-making organs (the Executive Board, the Governing Council and the General Council) are composed of governors of the central banks of the member states and/or recognized specialists. According to its statutes, it is politically ‘independent’ but it is directly influenced by the world of finance.
https://www.ecb.europa.eu/ecb/html/index.en.html and IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.
When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.
As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).
The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
http://imf.org ) and all EU governments have launched an unprecedented attack on the social and economic rights of their peoples. This book will enable the reader to understand how the crisis developed: the consequences of deregulating the banking system, the logic underpinning private banks’ responses, and the crimes they perpetrate on a daily basis with the collusion of governments and central banks. It argues for socialisation, rather than ‘nationalisation’, of the banking sector so that it becomes a proper public service under citizen control and monitoring. It argues for the cancellation of illegitimate public debt that largely results from bank bail-outs. It uses simple straightforward language to make it possible for anyone to understand the current crisis and see coherent alternatives to current policies.
This book is dedicated to those who wish to better understand our struggle for empowerment, wherever they are; to the refugees who are shamefully denied access to our Western countries; to all those who have lost their jobs or their homes because of the irresponsible behaviour of banks; to those who fight injustice and all forms of oppression.
The central theme of this highly informative, lucid, and very careful study is the current financial crisis, which elites present “as the motive justifying the biggest offensive since the Second World War against the economic and social rights of the people of Europe,” and of the US as well. It also elaborates the background in the neoliberal policies of the past generation, and the deeper history of banking institutions and their roles in modern state capitalist societies. A no less important contribution is to spell out the basis for democratization of financial institutions under citizen control. Valuable and impressive.
– Noam Chomsky
Banks are at the heart of contemporary capitalism – they are key to financial markets, generate the bulk of financial profits, and have enormous influence on policy making. Eric Toussaint offers us a wide-ranging, informative and sharp outline of their role. And as one would expect from the author, the analysis is politically committed, while also suggesting concrete measures to deal with the power of banks.
– Costas Lapavitsas, former MP for Syriza and Professor of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
Eric Toussaint provides a comprehensive analysis of the deregulation of the banking system and finance before and after the Great Recession, and of the effects of the “Bankocracy” on the lives of people. He skilfully presents the complex mechanisms and instruments the financial sector has developed. He does so in a language which is accessible to anyone interested in understanding the current crisis and the role of the financial industry. The alternatives he presents to the current policies include the socialization of the banking sector and the cancellation of illegitimate public debt.
– Özlem Onaran, Professor of Workforce and Economic Development Policy, University of Greenwich.
Eric Toussaint’s Bankocracy describes how the growth of debt stultifies rather than finances prosperity — and from the outset shows that creditor power has been wiped out by civil authority repeatedly, since the very beginning of our modern epoch when the wealth of the Knights Templars was seized by Philip the Fair and their power dissolved along with their order.
This should be the political lesson of our own time: That there is nothing inherent in nature for families, business and governments to be indebted to a creditor class. What is a natural law throughout history has been the reaction by public authority to wipe the financial slate clean and make a fresh start with a clean slate.
Failure to do this will subject society to chronic austerity. Toussaint’s book shows the need for political parties to make this the centerpiece of their economic program.
– Michael Hudson
is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the author of Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here), etc. See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. Since the 4th April 2015 he is the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt.
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