20 September 2007

Dramatic Demise of King

Journalists who are referring to the appearance of Mervyn King before the Treasury Select Committee later today as 'theatre' are for once not over-dramatising. His inevitable humiliation by the bankers can be seen as the culmination of the second act of a tragedy we all share in. The end of the first act was the appearance outside No. 11 of Chancellor Norman Lamont in 1992.

The ashen hero, brought low by his hubris, enacted a classic moment from Greek tragedy. He had overestimated his power and faced humiliation. His efforts to prove that the British government was in control of the British currency in fact proved the reverse: since financial deregulation and the globlisation of currency trading the large players in the markets are more powerful than governments.

So what can we expect to happen to Mervyn King today? He appears to have become a victim of his own economic theories, failing to see that phrases such as 'moral hazard' have always been merely fig-leaves to cover the political manoeuvrings of the dominant forces of capitalism. It is the owners of capital who really control the economy not the espoused objective and neutral forces of the market. When King refused to allow the banks the extra money they demanded surely his fate was sealed.

The agent provacateur of this drama appears to be another former Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, who has been sharing his avuncular opinions across the range of media outlets. Views on why him, and what his game is, would be welcome.

Meanwhile focus on the need to change the 'tripartite' regulatory system is misplaced. Rather we need a system where politicians have the courage to take back political control over the monetary system, and to replace money creation by banks, as debt, with a system where government spends money into circulation for the public benefit. A truly creative solution would link this to carbon rationing and both a business and individual carbon trading system.

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