NEW INTERNATIONALIST MAGAZINE, MAY 2015
When we asked Susan George what the banks have learned from the 2008 financial meltdown, her instant reaction was: ‘That they can get away with murder.’ So we asked for a little more – from an author who has been shining a brilliant light on the subject ever since the ‘Third World’ debt crisis began four decades ago.
Hope springing eternal, I didn’t believe that the banks could emerge from the 2007-08 crisis far stronger than before, especially in political terms. Yes, some have paid staggering fines to governments – a total of $178 billion for the US and European banks – but they now consider such outlays as mere ‘costs of doing business’. None of the industry hotshots has spent so much as a night in prison or been fined personally.
Although we have not yet fully escaped from the aftershocks of 2007-08, a scenario for the next crisis is already being written both by politicians and the bankers themselves. Mathematicians have demonstrated the dense, interconnected web of world financial actors in which the failure of one could trigger the collapse of all. They have put us on a knife-edge and we have good reasons to be pessimistic:
•Governments and international institutions have shown no serious intention of regulating the banks, thus placing us in considerable danger of a repeat performance. Banks and bankers are not just too big to fail and too big to jail, but also too big to nail – they have become a law unto themselves.
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