Banking and Finance

HSBC profits and bonuses soar while it vandalises society. Expropriate the banks!

UK-based international banking and finance giant HSBC has increased the “bonus pool” for its bankers by 50%, to £650m, after its profits grew more than fourfold in the second quarter of 2021. It says it may increase it further before pay-outs early next year. Last year HSBC paid 324 of its bankers more than £850,000 in salaries and bonuses, while eight received more than £4m and one more than £8m. This comes hot on the heels of HSBC being embroiled in a major international money-laundering scandal; the revelation that it was the second biggest financial backer of companies in the coal industry...

"Public ownership is just as necessary for banking as health and education"

Marxist economist Michael Roberts (thenextrecession.wordpress.com) has long argued and campaigned to take the banking and financial system into public ownership. He spoke to us about why. Why is public ownership of banking and finance an important demand for the working class and labour movement? What are the key arguments? Banking is an important service for ordinary workers, households and businesses, particularly small businesses. When we get our wage packets, they’re normally paid into bank accounts, and when we conduct most of our transactions they’re conducted with bank cards or credit...

Momentum votes to campaign for public ownership of the banks

Momentum members have voted to prioritise eight motions for the 2021 Labour Party conference (September 25-9, Brighton). The motions prioritised are: “£15 minimum wage”; “Time for proportional representation”; “Green jobs revolution”; “Global climate justice”; “Build council housing and end homelessness”; “Reject integrated care systems, renationalise England’s NHS and social care”; “A four day week for a society in which we work to live, not live to work”; and “Build back fairer: attack poverty and inequality”. Momentum's office says that the Momentum National Coordinating Group will add...

Mick Brooks and expropriating the banks

Longstanding socialist and Labour Party activist Mick Brooks (1948-2021), who died in January as a result of complications from Covid-19, was co-author with Michael Roberts of the Fire Brigades Union’s 2013 pamphlet on public ownership of the banks and high finance, It's time to take over the banks. (The two also ran regular Karl Marx walking tours in London.) In the face of multiple convulsive social crises, the demand for public and democratic control of finance is more relevant and urgent than ever. Mick continued to vocally and actively make the case for it. For those who did not know him...

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...

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