Category Archives: Finance

Looking the other way on the lip of the abyss

WE ARE approaching an economic event horizon. “Almost anything could happen in the next few months,” says Paul Tucker, deputy governor of the Bank of England, advising banks to prepare to withstand the worst. The exceptional coordinated action of central banks on Wednesday has been widely seen not just as offering temporary relief to the embattled Eurozone, but as a recognition that the global economy is on the lip of the catastrophe curve. Continue reading

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The zombie menace of anti-capitalist thought

WHEN the Occupy protest movement began, how twenty-first century it seemed: leaderless, emergent and driven by a fury at unprecedented cronyism between high finance and high politics. But how quickly it has decayed, in its London incarnation at least, into reheated anti-capitalist slogans with nothing original to say. Continue reading

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The Vatican’s imperial economic plan is naive

THE Vatican waded into the debate over the financial crisis this week, when the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace released a paper titled Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority. Despite some interesting analysis, as Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute has pointed out, on the problems caused by fiat currencies, the papacy’s note shows a curious enthusiasm for the idea of a global financial body to keep past excesses in check. At times, it is a vision of such naive optimism as to be almost heartbreaking. Who, in the midst of the ineffectual, self-serving, horse-trading muddle of the Eurozone’s political wrangling, can hear without incredulity the announcement that “the Authority shall have the specific purpose of the common good, and will have to work and not be structured as an additional lever of power of the powerful over the weak.” Continue reading

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Decoding the protests occupying Wall Street

AMERICA’S left may finally have found its answer to the Tea Party. Over the last four weeks, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has gone from a local curiosity to a national phenomenon, with copycat protests in several cities across the US, including Washington DC. In a sure sign that it is being taken more seriously, this week OWS has found both Hollywood celebrities and big labour unions trying to shelter under its anti-corporatist banner. Its moment in the spotlight may soon pass, but then, people said the same thing of the Tea Party, mocking and marginalising its members until their persistence and anti-tax integrity made grudging acceptance the only option. Continue reading

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No one benefits from a bonfire of the vanities

WHEN it all ended, they sent children to tug the playing cards from gamblers’ hands and strip closets of their silks. Savonarola’s so-called angels swept away the fine paintings and the antique statues, delivering their loot to the great fire burning in the heart of the city. It was said that Botticelli himself threw pictures onto the fire. Mardi Gras, 1497, and a city made great with the fortunes created by its bankers was ruining itself in a self-righteous fury. As a new exhibition opens in Florence, covering the role of high finance in that city’s Renaissance, the bonfire of the vanities offers a useful reminder of what happened when Florence rejected its financiers. Continue reading

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