Enron and Co. - the fiasco of the new USA-style economy

1 March 2004 by Eric Toussaint

Twenty years of deregulation and market liberalization on a planetary scale have eliminated all the safety barriers that might have prevented the cascade effect of crises of the Enron type. All capitalist companies of the Triad and emerging markets have evolved, some with their own variations, on the same lines as in the USA. The planet’s private banking and financial institutions (as well as insurance companies) are in a bad way, having adopted ever riskier practices. The big industrial groups have all undergone a high degree of financialization and they, too, are very vulnerable. The succession of scandals shows just
how vacuous are the declarations of the US leaders and their admirers in the four corners of the globe (see Ahold, Parmalat,...).

A mechanism equivalent to several time-bombs is under way on the scale of all the economies on the planet. To name just a few of those bombs: over indebtedness of companies and households, the derivatives Derivatives A family of financial products that includes mainly options, futures, swaps and their combinations, all related to other assets (shares, bonds, raw materials and commodities, interest rates, indices, etc.) from which they are by nature inseparable—options on shares, futures contracts on an index, etc. Their value depends on and is derived from (thus the name) that of these other assets. There are derivatives involving a firm commitment (currency futures, interest-rate or exchange swaps) and derivatives involving a conditional commitment (options, warrants, etc.). market (which in the words of the billionaire Warren Buffet, are « financial weapons of mass destruction »), the bubble of property speculation (most explosive in the USA and the UK), the crisis of insurance companies and that of pension funds Pension Fund
Pension Funds
Pension funds: investment funds that manage capitalized retirement schemes, they are funded by the employees of one or several companies paying-into the scheme which, often, is also partially funded by the employers. The objective is to pay the pensions of the employees that take part in the scheme. They manage very big amounts of money that are usually invested on the stock markets or financial markets.
. It is time to defuse these bombs and think of another way of doing
things, in the USA and elsewhere. Of course, it is not enough to defuse the bombs and dream of another possible world. We have to grapple with the roots of the problems by
redistributing wealth on the basis of social justice.

Eric Toussaint

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 Greece 2015: there was an alternative. London: Resistance Books / IIRE / CADTM, 2020 , Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), 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, 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. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.

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