Comeback for super bankers

Submitted by SJW on 4 July, 2018 - 11:28 Author: Gerry Bates

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 distinguished from high street banks by the fact that they do not take deposits. They operate solely as high-class gamblers in financial markets, padding the odds with large fee revenues from giving advice to or organising sales of securities for corporations.

Before 2007-8, in the USA particularly, they drew large incomes from processing and packaging mortgage debt into tradable securities.

Their revival is an index of a general recovery of profits and top incomes, which has been going on for some years now.

Overall employment figures have also recovered, though in the USA (exceptionally) they remain below 2007 rates. Wages have recovered more slowly, or scarcely at all in Britain. The proportion of world trade to output, which had risen consistently since the late 1940s, remains markedly lower than in 2007, with little sign of a turnaround.

The juicy figures for the investment banks reflect a rise in financial-asset prices much outstripping goods-and-services prices, a divergence which is often the forerunner of a crash.

The next crash will hit a world capitalist system shakier than in 2007.

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