Banking and Finance

Labour movement activists on why we must take over the banks

The 2019 TUC Congress passed a proposal from the Fire Brigades Union for “public ownership of the big banks, which could play a central role in building a sustainable economy, investing in a publicly owned energy sector and creating decent, unionised jobs in the interests of working people”. No one opposed the motion – but very few are actually advocating or campaigning for this. Here we quote a range of labour movement activists and representatives on why it is so essential. In the current situation, as we face an implosion of credit and a snowballing slump, against the background of the...

High finance: take back control

The banks and high finance should be converted into a public banking, mortgage, and pension service, under public ownership and democratic and workers’ control. Public ownership and democratic control will also provide the means to stop a reforming government being sabotaged by a “strike” or “flight” of capital, as France’s reforming government was in the early 1980s. Britain’s big four banks made about £22 billion profits in 2018-9. That is more than the total of £19 billion per year required, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies in October 2018, to end the cuts in welfare, schools...

Capital and the Amazon

A report by Amazon Watch released on 25 April 2019 indicts the role of global commodity traders and financiers in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon – the world’s largest rainforest – provides 20% of our oxygen, houses 10% of the planet’s biodiversity and 20% of its flowing freshwater. It stabilises global climate through driving weather patterns, and is home to many indigenous peoples. Preventing its deforestation is crucial in curtailing global warming and other world-wide climate catastrophes. A huge amount of carbon is stored in soil, and is released in the process of...

A left case for Brexit

The left was right to campaign against leaving the EU in 2016. Based on the tenor of the campaign, it was clear the Leave campaign would embolden the xenophobes and nationalists that exist across the class spectrum in the UK. This prediction was proven chillingly correct with both the spike in hate crime that followed the referendum and the movement that has emerged around Tommy Robinson over the last few weeks. The left should deplore and, if necessary, physically resist such acts of violent racism. But fighting fascism does not mean accepting globalisation. The fact is, working class people...

Nationalising money?

At the session on nationalising the banks at the AWL’s Ideas for Freedom event (21-24 June), we had, alongside Patrick Murphy speaking for that policy, a speaker from the campaign group Positive Money. The Positive Money speaker told us that their policy is for “nationalising money” rather than nationalising banks. He presented it as a left-wing policy, similar in drift to but different in detail from public ownership and control of banks. In fact the proposal for “nationalising money” has a right-wing pedigree and logic. It originates in the Chicago Plan of 1933, written by economists who...

Comeback for super bankers

The thermometer-busting moment of the 2008 economic crash was the collapse on 15 September 2008 of Lehman Brothers, then the USA’s fourth-largest investment bank. It was the biggest bankruptcy in US history. After it, it seemed doubtful for a while whether the other big investment banks could survive without drastic reshaping. By 2017, so the Financial Times reports (12 June 2018), “group-wide profits last year of $78.4 billion across the top nine investment banks — excluding the much-changed Bank of America — were higher than the $75.4 billion recorded in 2007”. Investment banks are...

For a workers' audit!

Two Parliamentary committees, both headed by right-wing Labour MPs (Frank Field and Rachel Reeves) have called the UK’s big four accountancy firms to be referred to competition authorities for potential break-up. Investigating the collapse of Carillion, which made its bosses millions from taking on outsourced contracts, the MPs found that the firms supposed to audit (check) the firm’s figures were a “cosy club incapable of providing the degree of independent challenge needed”. The government, regulators and Carillion board members had often acted “entirely in line with their own personal...

Slump-prone economy

In the last year or so, world capitalism has had its nearest approach to a general economic revival since the crash of 2008. A clutch of figures at the end of April show that the revival is very weak. Britain’s first-quarter GDP growth was reported at just 0.1 per cent. Britain’s GDP growth figure is only 1.2% during the past year, the lowest figure since 2013. The “purchasing manager’s index” for Britain’s industry was at a 17 month low in April. Across the eurozone, assessments of order books and inventories and expectations have also declined for both industry and services. Even in the USA...

The bankers’ let-out

The big banks — UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, HSBC, and others — are nearing a deal with the EU over their rigging of foreign-exchange markets. They have already paid American, British and Swiss authorities more than $10 billion for the rigging, and the EU over $2 billion for rigging interest rates. The 2008 crash has been followed by a cascade of investigations and scandals, triggered by resentment built up against the banks by government authorities and non-bank capitalists. The twist, however, is that even when the high powers of bourgeois society are...

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