The London Paper – 11 Sept 2009
“And now the end is near; and so I face the final curtain.” This is my penultimate column. Thelondonpaper is shutting down next Friday mainly because its advertising revenue has dried up as a direct result of this recession. It seems ironic that after three years spent warning Londoners every week in this paper that City boys are greedy shysters whose short-term, selfish actions will hurt us all that I am now myself a victim of a financial crisis brought about their hideous machinations.
This week is also extremely significant for two other reasons. Firstly, eight years ago today America suffered its worst ever terrorist attack. If Osama Bin Laden’s aim had been to bring about an economic crisis he did reasonably well. World stock markets would keep falling for another 1½ years after 9/11 and numerous jobs would be lost across the globe in the ensuing turmoil.
However, it would be a crisis brought about by a far more deadly foe than terrorists that would bring capitalism to its knees: bankers. A year ago this week Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and suddenly the financial crisis went into overdrive as interconnected banks across the world faced imminent collapse.
The decision by US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to allow Lehmans to go bust doomed us all to a far more serious crisis than we would otherwise have faced. Days later the once-proud Paulson was literally on his hands and knees asking the US cabinet for $700bn of federal aid whilst Bush was heard to exclaim that ‘this sucker (e.g. capitalism) could go down’. Soon governments across the globe were spending vast sums of taxpayers’ money on expensive bank bail-outs designed to prop up capitalism.
And it seems to have worked. World stock markets are up around 50% from their March lows and bankers, politicians and regulators across the globe are patting each other on the back and talking excitedly about future growth.
Unfortunately, I think this complacent attitude is very dangerous. We must not forget that it has taken trillions of dollars to prevent a truly despicable recession from developing. This recent disaster also reminds us that capitalism often requires government help to prop it up and, of course, the elite always deliver because it is they who benefit most from the continuation of the status quo. We must not let them forget they’re using our money to perpetuate a system that they are the principal beneficiaries of.
I feel so strongly about this that I may use my impending unemployment to take a trip to Pittsburgh to demonstrate outside the meeting of the G20 leaders on the 24th September. It may be totally pointless but if they aren’t sufficiently aware of public anger they’re bound to offer us some watered-down horse crap rather than genuine financial reforms … and if that happens you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be another crisis just around the corner and more of your hard-earned dosh spent bailing out bankers.
I don’t know about you but I just couldn’t bear to see that happen again!