18 September 2007

Bursting the carbon bubble

The government hopes it has now stopped the decline in the asset base of Northern Rock by offering guarantees that all savers' deposits will be repaid in full. Let's enquire a little further into this guarantee. Where is the money coming from? The Bank of England, the government's bank, will supply it to the Northern Rock but it will be government money, or rather our money. Cash haemorrhaging across the counters of the bank will be replaced by a steady transfusion of public money, money that might have been spent on better hospitals or schools.

The most obvious problem with this is that it is transferring money from the poor (e.g. those who shovel chips or sweep streets and pay their taxes) to the rich (those with money in hedge funds). It also provides a huge incentive for the gamblers in the global financial casino to continue their high-risk strategies, knowing that when they fail it will be the working people of this country who will bail them out.

Since giving away the power to regulate financial markets with Big Bang in 1986 the government has irresponsibly left the management of the money system we all rely on to city speculators. The ideology behind this was essentially the Adam Smith doctrine of the invisible hand: if lots of players act with individual selfishness the outcome will be to the benefit of all. But it hasn't been. It has been to the benefit of those with more knowledge of, and power in, financial markets.

But even if any politicians who is accorded air time were to argue for the taking back of political control over the fundamentally important monetary system of this country how could that be done without precipitating exactly the sort of collapse that causes such social distress as witnessed in Russia frollowing the break-up of the Soviet Union?

The ideal would be to manage the descent in the consumption imbalance between rich and poor, whether we are thinking of individuals or nations, in conjunction with the managed decline in the production of carbon dioxide. This is entirely consistent with evidence showing that there is a close relationship between wealth and behaviour which causes climate change.

The debt bubble in the international financial system is funding by the purchase of US government debt by the booming Asian economies. The Contraction and Convergence model (http://www.gci.org.uk/contconv/cc.html) offers a mechanism for equalising carbon dioxide emissions on a global per capita basis and thus a means of rebalancing this relationship. Introducing the TEQ or tradable energy quota in the UK might be one tool to reduce consumption: if it could be linked to a managed withdrawal of debt from the national economy we might move towards a future that is financially, as well as ecologically, stable.
You might like to investigate this online petition: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/NoCityBailout/

1 comment:

  1. OT - some people have left interesting remarks on your earlier post about Tesco. You haven't answered any of them. Any reason?